An Overview of the Academic Model

The IB Diploma Model illustrates the well-rounded educational experience all IBDP students at Pearson participate in during their 2 years at the College. The DP Model is simply an overview and covers only the structured learning components – learning at Pearson can take many other forms. Incoming students may use this as a guide to understand what they can expect from the academic program and also use this as a reference to choose courses for the IB Diploma Program.

At the Heart: The International Baccalaureate

Pearson College UWC has partnered with the International Baccalaureate (IB) to offer the IB Diploma Program that allows students an opportunity to earn a diploma accepted by universities in many countries. The IB Diploma is a deliberate compromise between the specialization required in some national systems and the breadth provided in others. All students study from five to six different academic areas. All courses, with the exception of school-supported self-taught languages, are studied for two years.

Group 1 Languages

Group 1 courses in language and literature focus on the idea of text and language within a cultural context, on critical literacy and on the constructed meaning of language. The courses explore literature, language and mass communication. This will usually be your first-language, your native language, or the language you are extremely fluent in.

Group 2 Languages

There are 2 levels you can choose from:

The Language B courses investigate literature, media and culture through a variety of different methods to develop linguistic fluency. This will usually be your second-language or a language other than your first-language you have had previous instruction in.

At Pearson you can also choose to learn a new language – no prior experience required. All students complete language assessments upon arrival in order to determine the most appropriate language course placements.

Group 3: Individuals and Societies

Subject matter in Group 3 courses is contestable; study of these courses requires students to tolerate some uncertainty. Studying multiple perspectives fosters an appreciation of change, continuity, similarity and difference, and the diverse backgrounds of Pearson students contributes greatly to discussions and explorations.

The disciplines’ major theories, concepts, methods and arguments are investigated in order to develop strong analytical and critical-thinking skills, providing a solid foundation for university. No previous knowledge of the subjects is required.

Group 4: Experimental Sciences

The science programs at Pearson College UWC are all based on an experimental approach to learning in our well-equipped laboratories. The courses also take full advantage of our natural environment, using the forest, the ocean and the sky as nature’s classrooms. Through a study of topical issues, students are taught to think critically and to develop a deeper understanding of some of the most pressing issues of global concern. An interdisciplinary group project completed during the first year also gives students an opportunity to experience the collaborative nature of scientific work.

Group 5: Mathematics

All students are required to complete a mathematics course, and three options are available to cater to different abilities and levels of student interest. Each course aims to deepen your understanding of mathematics as a discipline and to promote confidence and facility in the use of mathematical language. You will be given a preliminary assessment during orientation week to help the department and you assess the best course choice for you.

Group 6: The Arts

Group 6 subjects offer you an opportunity for exploration and creativity along with a deepened ability to critique and understand the historical, theoretical and social influences on art from a variety of eras and cultures.

The IB Core Program

All students at Pearson participate in all three components of the IBDP Core Program – it is one of the most essential parts of the Pearson experience. The Core components are your opportunity to test your intellectual and physical limits, and truly discover yourself. You may say it is the component that distinguishes the IB Diploma Program – and the Pearson academic model as a whole – from any other education model.

Course Preferences

How to register for courses

Before you arrive on campus, you will receive an email with instructions on how to use the online course registration system to provide your preferences. After you arrive at Pearson, course changes may be requested during the first six weeks of classes but requested changes are not always possible. Think carefully about the courses you select on the online registration system. You should discuss your course choices with your family and teachers at home. You should also research university course requirements prior to arriving at the College.

How many courses, and what kind of courses to register for

Choose 6 courses in total (does not include IB Core courses)

You will study one subject from each of the first five major IB areas listed in the diagram above – browse the slides to familarize yourself with the IB Academic Groupings. In addition, you will study an Arts course OR an additional course in the sciences, languages, or Individuals and Society. The only exception to this is when you can provide documentary evidence upon arrival at the College from your university of choice.

Your academic program will also include a course in the Theory of Knowledge, an Extended Essay, and participation in the Creativity, Action, Service (CAS) program.

Standard Level courses (SL) and Higher Level courses (HL)

With the exception of school-supported self-taught languages, you will take the same courses in your second year as in your first year. Some courses you will study at Higher Level and others at the Standard Level. If you study self-taught languages, you will complete this course in your first year and have time in your second year to dedicate to other courses and activities.

In your second year, you will study three courses at the Higher Level and three at the Standard Level. If you are a student with a particularly strong academic standing, you may be permitted to study four courses at the Higher Level and two at the Standard Level.

Things to keep in mind when selecting courses

University Recognition

Study at university outside your home country can be very expensive and is not always possible. You will need to obtain information about:

  • IB recognition: does the university you want to study at recognize the IB Diploma Program?
  • University required courses/credits: Depending on the specific program you intend to study (e.g. engineering, humanities, law, medicine, sciences, social sciences), the university might require you to have taken certain courses in the IB. Even if courses aren’t a requirement, several universities award credits for courses from the IB Diploma Program.

Higher Level or Standard Level

Think about whether you would like to take your selected course as a Higher Level subject or Standard Level subject in second year – note that some courses are only offered at the Standard Level.

Available Courses in 2022

Select an IB Academic Group below to see your options for courses in that group

Select one of:
English, French, Chinese, Spanish, or Literature & Performance

Group 1 language is also known as “Language A”.  At Pearson, we offer Language A, Language and Literature instruction in English, French, Chinese, and Spanish. The courses are meant for students who are native or very advanced speakers of those four languages. In addition to these four courses, the College offers Literature A School-supported Self-taught for everyone whose strongest language is not English, French, Chinese, or Spanish. You will attend this class in your first year to help you to develop analytical skills and guide you through the study of works of literature in English and your first language.

Students who receive a mark of 3 or higher in a Language A other than (or in addition to) English will be awarded a bilingual diploma by the IB.

Literature & Performance is an interdisciplinary course combining literature and theatre. It brings together literary analysis, based on close reading, critical writing, and discussion, with practical and aesthetic elements of theatre. In this course students engage with a range of literary works, perform dramatic texts, and transform non-dramatic texts into performances. Major assessments include a take-home essay reflecting on the performance of a dramatic text, an individual oral reflecting on the transformation of a literary work into a performance, and an essay exam comparing two literary works studied in the course. Literature & Performance may count as a student’s Group 1 or Group 6 course, but may only be taken at SL.


Select one Language B or one Language AB INITIO


If you have had instruction in English, French or Spanish as a second language previously, you can continue to study these languages at Pearson. The Language B courses investigate literature, media and culture through a variety of different methods to develop linguistic fluency.


For everyone who has had little exposure to or wants to learn a new language, we offer Spanish, French, and Mandarin at a beginner level. All students complete language assessments upon arrival in order to determine the most appropriate language course placements.


If you have proficiency in an Indigenous language of Canada, you have the option of studying this language through school supported self-taught, if offered by the IB. In recognizing that English and French are the two official languages of Canada, we expect Canadian students to be fluent in both languages or to be working towards greater proficiency in these languages. If you are a Canadian who wishes to be exempt from studying French or English, you must demonstrate fluency on a placement test or be Indigenous.

Select one of:
Economics, Global Politics, History or Philosophy



Economics at Pearson tries to address the question: “How do we achieve wellbeing with limited resources and challenged ecosystems in a constantly changing world?” The IB course is framed within the mainstream approach focusing on a globalized market-based system with government interventions. Using economic models, some quantitative methods and analytical tools, you will analyze economic phenomena and critically evaluate economic policies. You are asked to approach economic issues by applying theory from diverse viewpoints. Classes are based on empirical evidence and facts of world current and past events.


The course explores fundamental political concepts, such as power, equality, sustainability and peace, in a range of contexts and through a variety of approaches. It allows students to develop an understanding of the local, national, and global dimensions of political activity, as well as the opportunity to explore political issues affecting their own lives. Global Politics is offered at the Standard and Higher Level.


This is the study of the past and people in it — not just what happened, but how people lived and, most importantly, why people did what they did. Ultimately, through critical reflection of the past, we hope to better understand the present and future. Our course focuses on 20th-century challenges to democracy (Mandela in South Africa, US Civil Rights Movement, Post-independence India) and single-party states. In the second year, you will study Communism in Crisis and Higher Level students will focus on East Asia.


Philosophy is the study, evaluation and construction of abstract concepts with real-world impact, such as humanity, freedom, consciousness, gender, democracy, nature and peace. Classes focus on building a collaborative atmosphere in which students can develop individual perspectives, compare cultural approaches, and evaluate philosophical arguments. Connecting philosophy with the UWC mission is emphasized. No previous study of philosophy is expected, only a tolerance for questioning, a willingness to experiment and a passion for truth.

Select one of:
Biology, Physics, Chemistry and Marine Science



The emphasis in the biology course is on developing a broad understanding of the following concepts as they apply to living organisms: structure and function, universality versus diversity, equilibrium within systems, and evolution. The topics covered include: ecology, molecular biology and genetics, biochemical processes, plant science and human physiology. There is no prerequisite for this course, although it is useful if you have some knowledge of chemistry. Biology is only offered at the Higher Level.


This is described as the central science, as chemical principles underpin both the physical environment and biological systems. The course includes a study of atomic theory, chemical bonding, energetics, kinetics, equilibria and organic chemistry. Through selected “option” topics, applications of chemistry in industry, medicine and the environment are discussed. The course at Higher Level covers the topics in more depth than at Standard Level, and requires a greater level of mathematical analysis. You do not need prior knowledge in chemistry at the Standard Level, however, some background is beneficial at the Higher Level.


This course offers an opportunity for you to explore many facets of physics through experimental enquiry and class discussion. Topics covered include classical mechanics, thermal physics, waves, electromagnetism, atomic and nuclear physics, energy, power and climate change, relativity and astrophysics. You will have an opportunity to use a variety of laboratory equipment including an astrophysical observatory. You do not need prior knowledge in physics at the Standard Level, however some background is beneficial at the Higher Level.


The location of the College on the ocean makes it ideally suited to the scientific study of the marine environment. You will study the origin and structure of oceans, patterns of water movement, properties of ocean water and the variety of marine ecosystems in existence. Be prepared to spend many classes outside in various marine ecosystems. This is a school-based course that is offered only at the Standard Level.

Select one of:
Mathematical Analysis and Approaches or Mathematical Applications and Interpretation

ANALYSIS AND APPROACHES (available at Standard Level and Higher Level)

This course is intended for students who wish to pursue studies in mathematics at university or subjects that have a large mathematical content; it is for students who enjoy developing mathematical arguments, problem solving and exploring real and abstract applications, with and without technology. The Higher Level course is primarily intended for those with a strong background and a passion for mathematics. The Standard Level course is best suited for you if you need mathematics as a tool to pursue a subject of major interest, but do not want the rigours of the Higher Level course or do not have sufficient background to access the Higher Level course. The topics covered are similar to those of Higher Level.

APPLICATIONS AND INTERPRETATION (available at Standard Level only)

This course is designed for students who enjoy describing the real world and solving practical problems using mathematics, those who are interested in harnessing the power of technology alongside exploring mathematical models and enjoy the more practical side of mathematics.

Select one of: Theatre and Visual Art
Or choose an additional Science, Individual and Societies or Language course instead of an Arts course



This is a largely project-based subject. Through participation in our own productions and being an audience member, in workshops and class presentations, you will experience and analyze a diversity of theatre processes, productions and practices from different eras and cultures. The aim of the course is to extend your appreciation of and skill in a broad selection of the many functions and forms of theatre, so you may acquire an understanding of the historical, aesthetic and cultural significance of the art form. You do not need prior knowledge or experience in theatre to register in this course.


Artistic expression is common to all cultures and this subject will help you become comfortable approaching it, regardless of previous art training. Emphasis is placed on personal development, discovery, and opportunity for visual self-expression. The course involves regular studio work and investigation; this is the practical hands-on use of various techniques and materials. You will also learn curatorial and analytical skills — the historical, cultural and social aspects of visual art.

All students participate both IB Core Subjects


Theory of Knowledge (TOK+)

TOK+UWC Skills combines theory and practice relevant to the IB Theory of Knowledge course with the UWC mission. By reframing perspectives and revealing assumptions, individuals and groups are enabled to contribute mindfully to an original and beneficial impact on society. First year includes the majority of the IB TOK curriculum and introduces relevant skills. The second year includes formal IB-TOK assessments. Throughout the two years, students deepen their understanding of indigenous perspectives.

The Extended Essay

You will write a 4,000-word essay as a part of your diploma. The essay encourages you to deepen your program of study through a research question of your choosing and you will become acquainted with the kind of independent research and writing skills expected by universities.

Academic Assessment

At the end of your second year at Pearson College UWC, you will take your final IB examinations. Subject grades are awarded on a 1 to 7 scale, with 7 being the highest grade. An IB diploma is awarded to students who attain a combined total of at least 24 points, subject to some supplementary conditions including a commitment to our CAS program. The maximum award is a diploma of 45 points. More information about this diploma, and its international recognition by colleges and universities, can be found at the International Baccalaureate website:

Visit the IB Website

During the two years of study, teachers regularly assess students to monitor their progress. Feedback is criterion-referenced and intended to reflect levels of mastery. Formal reports are given at the end of each term including achieved grades that follow the IB grading scale. In the second year of study, predicted grades are sent to universities as part of the official transcript. These grades predict your achievement on the IB examinations and are based on past performance and rate of growth.

Post-Pearson Planning

Students are introduced to post-Pearson planning in February of their first year, and to the university process in May; individual applications begin during orientation week of the second year. Students are limited to eight applications worldwide and are expected to be independent, responsible and resourceful in their individual application process.

Academic Supplies

We will loan you required textbooks and can supply (used) binders and some paper if you require these. You should plan to bring other basic stationery items or to purchase these locally. All students will require an IB-approved graphic display calculator (GDC) for mathematics. The Pearson College mathematics courses are developed for the TI-84+ CE and will support the use of this GDC. Hence, it is strongly recommended that students use the TI-84+ CE calculator.

CAS: Creativity, Action, Service

At Pearson College UWC, our students learn by doing. The CAS program, mandatory for the completion of the IB diploma, is critical to this concept of learning. So important, that Pearson considers student participation, engagement and initiative in such activities as equally valuable as the time and energy put into academics.

In addition to weekly activities and Extended Home Service, the CAS program consists of at least three Project Weeks over two years. More details on this can be found in the Student Handbook.


We ask that students pursue at least one activity from each of the CAS categories over two years, committing to every activity for at least one year. Students work with their advisor to create a balanced and challenging program, reflect on their progress at set times throughout the year, then discuss their experiences with their advisor.

Participation in a variety of activities enables students to

  • Develop organizational and leadership skills
  • Meet physical and emotional challenges
  • Develop creative expression
  • Learn a respect for the environment
  • Practice teamwork and cooperation
  • Develop an enduring commitment to the principles of service.

While we offer a wide range of activities, we also encourage students to find, pursue and share what they are passionate about.

Currently, CAS activities may include

  • Astronomy
  • Classical Photography Techniques
  • Choir and Singers
  • Creative Words
  • Guitar, Voice & Musicianship
  • Orchestra
  • Pottery
  • Ukrainian Dance
  • First Aid
  • Growing opportunities (greenhouse)
  • Model United Nations
  • Kayaking
  • Sailing
  • SCUBA diving
  • Intro to Wilderness
  • Campus Care and Restoration
  • Paddle Sports
  • Environmental stewardship
  • Refugee Support
  • Metchosin Community House (Elderly Support Activities)
  • Pearson College Emergency Response Team (PCERT)
  • Peer Supporters

At the end of their second year, students write exams marked by external IB examiners. Pearson students have excelled in these exams, with more than 60% of students since 1974 receiving over 35 points (out of a possible 45) – only 20% to 30% of students worldwide achieve this ranking! Successful students receive an IB Diploma shortly after they complete their Pearson residency.