IB DP Visual Arts

Nature of Subject:

The Visual Arts course is student-centered and places student exploration at the heart of a holistic learning experience. Students have a free choice to identify, select and explore artists, artworks, cultural contexts, and media and forms for study which interest and excite them. They also have freedom to present their studies in a variety of creative ways, including presentations, demonstrations and exhibitions.

The course is designed to enable students to experience visual arts on a personal level and achievement in this subject is reflected in how students demonstrate the knowledge they have gained as well as the skills and attitudes they have developed that are necessary for studying visual arts.

Through making, investigating and critically analyzing and appreciating differing art forms, students deepen their understanding of the visual arts, as well as their knowledge, understanding and experience of the visual arts within the global community.


To enable students to:

1. enjoy lifelong engagement with the arts

2. become informed, reflective and critical practitioners in the arts

3. understand the dynamic and changing nature of the arts

4. explore and value the diversity of the arts across time, place and cultures

5. express ideas with confidence and competence

6. develop perceptual and analytical skills.

7. make artwork that is influenced by personal and cultural contexts

8. become informed and critical observers and makers of visual culture and media

9. develop skills, techniques and processes in order to communicate concepts and ideas.


The student will be able to:

  • demonstrate knowledge and understanding of specified content
  • demonstrate application and analysis of knowledge and understanding
  • demonstrate synthesis and evaluation
  • select, use and apply a variety of appropriate skills and techniques

ATL Objectives

Learning about visual arts relies on action and the course must be experienced practically. Communication is essential to the visual arts and students should experience and reflect on the processes of communicating their work, and the benefits and challenges of doing so. Organization, self-management and independent study skills are important, as well as higher-order thinking skills, such as analysis and synthesis. Students should also learn to make decisions about what is relevant and useful for their own investigations and how to put their knowledge and understanding into practice, transforming ideas into action.

Through this course students should learn not only about visual arts from a variety of cultural contexts, but also about the importance of making their own practical work with integrity, informed by theory and research, with an awareness of the impact their work and ideas may have on the world.

The visual arts course encourages students to research using not only traditional academic methods but also by experimenting and coming to understandings through their own embodied experiences. The visual arts journal, for example, which is regarded as a central element of the visual arts course brings together a number of ATL skills through the process of reflection, which features as a taught activity throughout the course.

Syllabus Outline

Visual arts in context - students are encouraged to explore perspectives, theories and cultures that inform and influence visual arts practice. Students should be able to research, understand and appreciate a variety of contexts and traditions and be able to identify links between them.

Visual arts methods - addresses ways of making artwork through the exploration and acquisition of skills, techniques and processes, and through engagement with a variety of media and methods

Communicating visual arts - students investigating, understanding and applying the processes involved in selecting work for exhibition and public display. It engages students in making decisions about the selection of their own work.

The Core Areas:

  • Theoretical practices - critical analysis, identifying and critiquing the formal qualities of a range of artworks, objects and artifacts from a range of origins.
  • Art-making practice - seek to find out how particular elements of artworks have been created or how specific effects have been achieved, or more in-depth studies through which you follow a process through to creating a larger body of work inspired by the artist, artwork or artifact.
  • Curatorial practice - formulate your own intentions for making original artworks and identify inspirations from a variety of different sources. You should be encouraged to consider the nature of “exhibition” and consider the role and functions of galleries and museums.


Year 1

Year 2

Trimester 1

  • ATL skills: research, documentation, use of the Creative Cycle
  • Visual arts vocabulary/terminology
  • Media skills and techniques
  • Developing theme (independent)
  • 2-3 finals and 10+ workbook pages
  • Overview of the year calendar and dates
  • Approaches to assessment
  • Improvements on screens (20+)
  • Refined finals (6+)
  • Draft 3 of Comparative Study

Trimester 2

  • In-depth independent research
  • Exhibition visits
  • Critical analysis and reflection techniques
  • 3-5 finals and 15+ workbook pages
  • Drafting Comparative Study project
  • Finalizing screen pages for universities and IB
  • Completing finals and photographed
  • Final edit of Comparative Study
  • Exhibition preparation

Trimester 3

  • Sustained media experimentation and manipulation
  • Sustained and informed critical investigation studies
  • Comparative Study draft 2 (15 screens) prepared before Summer break
  • Mock Exam (20 screens) and Curatorial Practice draft (6+ finals) along with Candidate Statement (curating in an exhibition space)
  • Exhibition (April)
  • Submitting finals, Comparative Study and Process Portfolio to the IBO (April)


Visual Arts SL

Part 1: Comparative study



10-15 screens of 3 pieces/ 2artists

Part 2: Process Portfolio



9-18 screens of 2 art-making forms from 3 tables            

Part 3: Exhibition



400 word curatorial rationale/ 4-7 artworks/ exhibition text

Visual Arts HL   

Part 1: Comparative study



10-15 screens of 3 pieces/ 2 artists + 3–5 screens which analyze the extent to which their work and practices have been influenced by the art and artists examined.

Part 2: Process Portfolio



13-25 screens of 3 art-making forms from 2 tables            

Part 3: Exhibition



700 word curatorial rationale/ 8-11 artworks/ exhibition text

Academic Honesty

Referring sources: If you use content from any source, including the internet, these sources must be acknowledged consistently in accordance with the school’s academic honesty policy. These should be recorded in a style that clearly identifies exactly what in your work has been taken from another source and its origin.

Formal requirements: The assessment tasks in the arts are completed as coursework, and as such have strict conditions under which student work must be completed, presented and, in the case of internally assessed work, assessed.

Submitting exhibition work: Any work selected for final assessment in the visual arts course must have been made or constructed by the student. You are required to include exhibition text for each selected piece (the title, medium, size and intention of each piece).