Skip to content ↓
St Andrew's College Dublin St Andrew's College Dublin

Theory of Knowledge (ToK)

Theory of knowledge is a co-curricular subject at the core of the IB programme. It draws together what is learned in other subjects, and questions the validity of what we claim to know.

Theory of knowledge seeks to:

  • examine how knowledge is built up, examined and evaluated by individuals and societies
  • reflect on how we learn, inside and outside of the classroom, by making links between personal knowledge and shared knowledge
  • reinforce the variety of sources of knowledge and differing perspectives that have contributed to our worldview
  • acknowledge how cultural assumptions and individual perspectives may be obstacles to knowledge
  • explore the concept of knowledge as power and the responsibilities that pertain to it

This is achieved by exploring questions in six areas of knowledge, namely:

  • The arts
  • Ethics
  • History
  • Human sciences
  • Natural sciences
  • Mathematics 

We also look at the contribution of four ways of knowing to the accumulation of knowledge. These are:

  • Emotion
  • Language
  • Reason
  • Sense perception

Assessment for Theory of Knowledge consists of a presentation on a knowledge question of the student’s choice and an essay from a list of prescribed titles. Examples of knowledge questions include:

  • How does prior learning or experience influence our interpretation or art?
  • Does possession of knowledge carry an ethical responsibility?
  • Is historical objectivity possible?
  • Is it true to say that the human sciences are less certain than the natural sciences?
  • If all scientific experiments have ‘uncertainty’ how can we know ‘truth’ in science?
  • To what extent does mathematics describe the real world?