IB Subjects at Halcyon London International School


Subject Overview
Languages and Literature
Individuals and Societies
Physical and Health Education

Subject Overview

Please see below for a Grade 6-12 subject overview.

Middle Years Programme
Grade 6-10

Group 1 – Language and Literature

English (G6-10)
OR Mother Tongue Language (G10)

Group 2 – Language Acquisition

ONE Subject from:
Spanish (G6-10)
Mandarin (G6-10)

English Plus (G6-9)

Group 3 – Individuals and Societies

Integrated Humanities (G6-9)
History (G10 Option)
Geography (G10 Option)
Economics (G10 Option)

Group 4 – Sciences

Integrated Sciences (G6-9)
Biology (G10 Option)
Physics (G10 Option)
Environmental Science (G10 Option)
Chemistry (G10 Option)

Group 5 – Mathematics

Mathematics (G6-8)
Standard Mathematics (G9-10)
Extended Mathematics (G9-10)

Group 6 – Arts

Integrated Arts (G6-9)
Music (G10 Option)
Visual Arts (G10 Option)
Drama (G10 Option)

Group 7 – Design

Design (G6-10)

Group 8 – Physical and Health Education (G6-10)

The Core: mandatory components

Personal Learning (G6-9)
Personal Project (G10)
Service Learning (G6-10)
Explorations (G6-10)

Diploma Programme
Grade 11-12

HL = Higher Level
SL = Standard Level

Students choose ONE subject from each group, 1 – 6.

Group 1: Language and Literature

English A Language & Literature HL/SL
English A Literature HL/SL
Spanish A Language & Literature HL/SL
Spanish A Literature HL/SL
Mother Tongue Language A HL/SL

Group 2: Language Acquistion

Spanish B SL/HL
Spanish ab initio SL
Mandarian ab initio SL
Mandarin B HL/SL*

Group 3: Individuals and Societies

Geography HL/SL
History HL/SL
Economics HL/SL
Environmental Systems & Societies/ESS SL
Business Management HL/SL (online)**
Psychology HL/SL (online)
Information Technology SL (online)

Group 4: Sciences

Biology HL/SL
Chemistry HL/SL
Physics HL/SL
Environmental Systems and Societies/ESS HL/SL

Group 5: Mathematics

Analysis and Approaches HL/SL
Applications and Interpretations HL/SL

Group 6: Arts

Theatre HL/SL
Music HL/SL
Visual Arts HL/SL
OR: a second subject from Groups 1-4

The Core: mandatory components

Theory of Knowledge
Extended Essay
Creativity, Activity, Service

*Our provision of this course is flexible, dependent on students demands.

**We offer our students a more extensive range of courses based on individual request through Pamoja’s online services, which carry an additional fee.

Languages and Literature

“Observations within classrooms consistently noted engaging and insightful discourse where different perspectives were explored or where learners were being asked to view problems through a certain lens which encouraged developing skills of empathy and understanding.”

– NEASC, 2018


Language and Literature

Language and Literature provides International Baccalaureate students an opportunity to “develop critical, creative and personal approaches to studying and analysing literary and non-literary texts”*. Through their studies, students will hone their listening, speaking, reading, writing, viewing and presenting skills with the aim of investigating and understanding how texts are used in their world.

Middle Years Programme

In the Middle Years Programme, learners will analyse and produce a range of texts to understand language “as a vehicle for thought, creativity, reflection, learning, self-expression, analysis and social interaction.”

Diploma Programme

Diploma Programme students may choose to study Literature or Language and Literature, and through the study of texts will gain, “an appreciation of the different perspectives of people from other cultures, and how these perspectives construct meaning.”

The International Baccalaureate obliges teachers to integrate diversity into the curriculum, and Halcyon ensures that a variety of translated texts are included in English subject units. Our teachers are also committed to ensuring that Middle Years Programme students engage equally with studies in both language and literature, as required by the International Baccalaureate.

Language Acquisition

Language Acquisition is a compulsory part of both the IB Middle Years Programme and Diploma Programme, providing students with the opportunity to “gain proficiency in an additional language while supporting the maintenance of their mother tongue and cultural heritage.” At Halcyon, we offer a choice of Spanish or Mandarin as Language Acquisition subjects to our students at different ‘Phase’ levels to accommodate all abilities, with additional acquisition languages available at Diploma level.

Middle Years Programme

In the Middle Years Programme, students develop their knowledge and understanding of either Spanish or Mandarin, enabling them to “recognize and use language as a vehicle of thought, reflection, self-expression and learning in other subjects.”

Diploma Programme

In the Diploma Programme, students further develop this “awareness of the importance of language in relation to other areas of knowledge”; providing them with “a basis for further study, work and leisure through the use of an additional language.”

Our teachers build our students’ achievement through activities that require learners to comprehend, create and respond to a variety of spoken, written and visual texts.

*Quotations are taken from the International Baccalaureate Subject Guides. Read more:
MYP Curriculum
DP Curriculum

Super-curricular support

Through our Extra-Curricular Activities, trips and optional enrichment programmes, our students thrive as communicators and inquirers in the classroom, embracing opportunities to sharpen their linguistic and literary skills. We also welcome students to establish their own clubs and societies.

Many students who participate in our Mother Tongue programme select their Mother Tongue language as an option in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. Our English Plus programme ensures that every student is able to take English Language, English Literature, or English Language and Literature as one of their six options.

-Annual Argentinian exchange
-Cuenca Trip
-China/Taiwan Trip
-Mother Tongue Programme

-English Plus Programme
-Halcyonite Magazine
-Featured Student Blogs on the Halcyon App
Work Experience, University and Careers Counselling

Grade 11 Virtual Poetry Seminar

During our remote learning period, Grade 11 led an in-depth discussion on Margaret Atwood’s poetry by sharing their screens on Google Meet and highlighting quotations as they worked through the text together – a student-run online seminar.

Our students’ personal and creative approaches to analysing their chosen poems showcased exemplary communication and leadership. We were pleased to see that our students have utilised their collaboration skills in their studies of language and literature throughout online learning.

Journalism in Spanish

In MYP Spanish, our Grade 8, 9 and 10 students expanded their understanding of how language is used by planning and producing online newspapers with their classmates. Each student took charge of a different section, and had two further ‘journalists’ on their team to whom they delegated duties, working together to write articles on subjects ranging from politics to astrology.

This was an extensive and complex task for our students – but we can confidently say that they produced a great end product! Using Google Sites to create their newspapers allowed students to create an entertaining, interactive experience for their readers – and Grade 10 even added a jingle to their front page.

Individuals and Societies

“Pupils are educated to be responsible citizens who are very well prepared for life in a multicultural and diverse society. Teachers encourage pupils to become inquisitive and give them opportunities to engage in debate or intervene with pertinent questions during teaching.”

– Ofsted 2017


Individuals and Societies (Group 3)

Individuals and Societies is a compulsory part of the International Baccalaureate that “encourages learners to respect and understand the world around them”*. Encompassing multiple disciplines, Individuals and Societies requires students to investigate “historical, contemporary, geographical, political, social, economic, religious, technological and cultural factors that have an impact on individuals, societies and environments” in both local and global contexts.

Middle Years Programme

In the Middle Years Programme, Individuals and Societies consists of varied historical, geographical and sociological studies through which students will “learn to appreciate human and environmental commonalities and diversity” while developing “inquiry skills that lead towards conceptual understandings of the relationships between individuals, societies and the environments in which they live.”

Diploma Programme

Diploma students at Halcyon can choose History, Geography or Economics for their Group 3 studies of Individuals and Societies. Additional online courses are available on request. The Group 3 Diploma Programme curriculum enables each student to “to collect, describe and analyse data used in studies of society, to test hypotheses, and to interpret complex data” as they develop their awareness and appreciation of the diversity of human attitudes and beliefs. In the Diploma Programme, students are challenged to recognize that “the content and methodologies of their subject are contestable”: that they should take a critical, nuanced and balanced approach to the insights that they gain. Diploma Programme students may choose to study more than one Group 3 subject.

Our Individuals and Societies teachers collaboratively develop units that boost students’ subject knowledge and contextual understanding, as well as skills of data interpretation, analysis, argument and synthesis.

*Quotations are taken from the International Baccalaureate Subject Guides. Read more:
MYP Curriculum
DP Curriculum

Super-curricular support

At Halcyon, our students actively embrace the opportunity to lead systematic and critical studies on complex global issues. Our Eco Committee plays an active role in driving sustainability at Halcyon, and our Model United Nations club is a popular choice for our budding historians, geographers and economists. Supported annually in attending the MUNISH Conference in the Hague, MUN Club provides students with a passion for humanities and more ways to connect with like-minded individuals across the world.


– MUN Club
– Eco Committee
– Law Society
– Global Issues Conference


– Archaeology Exploration
– Eco-Summit Exploration
– Future Entrepreneurs Exploration
– London Walks Exploration

Work Experience, University and Careers Counselling

Grade 10 Global Issues Conference

Our Grade 10 Geography, History and Economics students delivered presentations on the relationship between economic development and conflict in five different regions from historic, geographic and economic perspectives – quite a feat, given that Economics is a new addition to Grade 10’s options.

Our students took the confidence gained from these presentations forward to engage in an online web discussion with students from Rwanda on the effects of economic development.

Halcyon MUN Conference

Every year, our MUN Board of Directors host a two-day Model United Nations Conference at Halcyon, inviting local schools (state and independent) to participate. At our last conference, students made contributions to resolutions on issues ranging from violence against women to the reunification of the Korean peninsula.

Having achieved so well in official Model United Nations conferences, our students are passionate about extending the benefits of reflective, analytical debate to their local peers.


In Science, students “quickly acquire analytical and investigative skills and teachers’ questioning rapidly deepens their understanding of scientific concepts.”

– NEASC, 2018

“Teachers are adept at reflecting pupils’ interests in their lessons. They use real-life contexts, so pupils understand the purpose of what they are learning.”

– Ofsted, 2020


Science (Group 4)

Science (Group 4) is a compulsory part of the IB Middle Years and the IB Diploma Programmes, and a key avenue through which students develop the global skills of the IB Learner Profile. Through an inquiry-based lab learning environment, our students develop “analytical, inquiring and flexible minds that pose questions, solve problems, construct explanations and judge arguments.”

Middle Years Programme

In the Middle Years Programme, students investigate issues through “research, observation and experimentation”, developing “sensitivity” to both living and non-living environments in their world.

Diploma Programme

In the Diploma Programme, students continue to develop their critical awareness of the ethical implications of science and technology on a global scale, while expanding their knowledge and repertoire of methods and techniques in Biology, Chemistry, Physics or Environmental Systems and Societies. Diploma Programme students may choose to study more than one Group 4 subject.

With an emphasis on collaboration and communication, our labs are exciting environments where our students have the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding, apply a variety of methodologies and formulate their own hypotheses and scientific explanations. Students from Chemistry, Biology and Physics collaborate together in the Group 4 Project, and all students conduct individual project coursework as part of Halcyon’s thriving Sciences programme.

*Quotations are taken from the International Baccalaureate Subject Guides. Read more:
MYP Curriculum
DP Curriculum

Super-curricular support

Halcyon’s extra-curricular activities provide students with access to a range of helpful resources and guidance for entering a career in the Sciences. Featuring interview practice, guest speakers, workshops, conferences and taster days.

Medics Club is aimed at delivering comprehensive support for Halcyon’s future doctors.

STEM Club encourages our students to expand their limits beyond the curriculum to engage in an independent investigation – a skill that brightens any university application.

Our Forensics, Outdoor Science, Robotics, App Maker and Makerspace Explorations provide students with an opportunity to gain experience and knowledge in the areas of STEM that energise their curious minds.

Clubs and Support

– Medics Club
– STEM Club
Work Experience, University and Careers Counselling


– Outdoor Science Exploration
– Robotics Exploration
– App Maker Exploration
– Makerspace Exploration
– Forensics Exploration

Diploma Programme project coursework (Internal Assessments)

Our students’ Internal Assessments often tackle fascinating issues from challenging angles. Examples of student work include research on which oils produce the best green biofuel yield and a study of pH regulation tools for at-risk living organisms.

In Internal Assessments, our students confidently apply their investigative, research and data gathering skills to real-world problems: crucial skills that universities seek.

Forensics Investigations

Students enrolled in our Forensics Exploration split into teams to design their own crime scenes, and challenged each other with finding the murder suspect and victim in each scenario.

This student-led task was a wonderful example of how each learners’ communication skills, combined with specific subject knowledge on blood analysis and footprint identification, enabled students to independently and successfully carry out the process of investigation in a different way.


“The curriculum is well designed, and learning is meticulously planned. Teachers ensure that pupils have the right knowledge before moving on to the next topic. They regularly review the curriculum to improve pupils’ learning.”

– Ofsted, 2020


Mathematics (Group 5)

Mathematics (Group 5) is a compulsory part of the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme and Diploma Programme, through which students develop “confidence, perseverance, and independence in mathematical thinking and problem-solving”*, with an appreciation of how these skills can be transferred to a range of real-life situations.

Middle Years Programme

In the Middle Years Programme, Mathematics is explored in depth through experimentation, questioning and discovery. The programme is driven by a curriculum that gives students the opportunity to develop “powers of generalization and abstraction” and appreciate how developments in technology and mathematics have influenced each other.

Diploma Programme

In the Diploma Programme, students continue to focus on their problem-solving skills, working through different units of mathematics, persistent, logical, creative and critical thinking. Depending on their interests and intentions for further study, students may select either ‘Mathematics: Analysis and Approaches’ or ‘Mathematics: Applications and Interpretation’ as their Mathematics Diploma subject. Both options challenge students to gain a comprehensive and synthesised understanding of the processes of mathematical inquiry, mathematical modelling, and technological applications of mathematics. Students’ development of strong technology skills throughout their Diploma Programme studies of Mathematics prepares students to intellectually perceive the links between theoretical and practical mathematics.

At Halcyon, our students enthusiastically pursue opportunities to showcase their problem-solving, inquiry, reasoning and communication skills, as well as their broader knowledge of Mathematics. Many fascinating and challenging questions have been explored by our students in their Diploma Programme Extended Essays – see their examples of work below.

*Quotations are taken from the International Baccalaureate Subject Guides. Read more:
MYP Curriculum
DP Curriculum

Super-curricular support

We offer students further opportunities to explore their curiosity in Mathematics. Maths Enrichment challenges students to learn about new areas of Mathematics that they have not yet explored in class.

Our Robotics Exploration requires students to use their technological and mathematical knowledge to build and modify their own robots!

– Maths Enrichment
– Robotics

Diploma Programme Extended Essays

One Higher Level Mathematics Extended Essay scaled up Dijkstra’s algorithm – a method to find shorter paths – to plan multiple global transport routes. This was an investigation with implications for climate change, international relations and economics.

The pursuit of this task provides some insight into our student’s capacity for in-depth STEM research.

UKMT Mathematics Challenge

Every year at Halcyon, a high proportion of our students place in the UK Mathematics Trust Mathematics Challenge, achieving gold, silver and bronze certificates.

We are pleased to see that our students regularly seek to go above and beyond in their academic pursuits outside of school hours – in Economics, for example, our students compete in a mock-investment challenge with other schools.

Read more about our students’ passionate approach towards problem-solving in our blog about IB DP HL Mathematics at Halcyon!


“Annual school performances tap into, and extend, their artistic skills. All these experiences have a profound impact on pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development, which the school promotes very effectively.”

– Ofsted, 2017

“The Halcyon learning community has made significant efforts to provide for a core curriculum, enhanced by creative programmes that cater to the whole child by encouraging student choice, autonomy, creativity and an excitement to learn.”

– NEASC, 2018


Arts (Group 6)

The Arts (Group 6) – consisting of Theatre Arts, Visual Arts and Music – is a way for students to “develop curiosity about themselves, others and the world around them”*; a creative aspect of their development into thoughtful and inquiring problem-solvers.

Middle Years Programme

In the Middle Years Programme, students will develop their skills and understanding through creative processes in Visual Arts, Drama and Music, making “purposeful connections between investigation”, understanding the contexts that surround the creation of art and developing their perspectives on the world.

Diploma Programme

In the Diploma Programme, students who opt to take a Music, Visual Arts or Theatre Arts “explore and value the diversity of the arts across time, place and cultures”, developing their skills of analysis and closely investigating the changing nature of the arts.

Every year, our students embrace a number of opportunities to showcase their creative research and development of artistic skills and techniques. Theatre showcases, our annual music celebration and the Grade 12 IBDP Art Exhibition all offer insight into the Arts at Halcyon.

*Quotations are taken from the International Baccalaureate Subject Guides. Read more:
MYP Curriculum
DP Curriculum

Super-curricular support

With a range of industry-level facilities, Extra-Curriculars, one-to-one music tutoring, trips and visitors to enrich our learning programmes, Halcyon empowers young artists to be the best they can be.

Paul Brantford explored high-level sketching techniques with our Grade 10 and 11 students, and music industry professionals John Themis and Costas Rialas shared exclusive career advice with our young musicians.

Clubs and Support

– Music Tutoring
– Industry Visitors
Work Experience, University and Careers Counselling

– Music Performance Exploration
– Music Ensemble Exploration
– Vocal Group Exploration
– School Show Exploration
– Photography Exploration
– Film Exploration

Annual art exhibition

Halcyon hosts an annual Art Exhibition which attracts members of our local Marble Arch community as well as our school community.

The high-quality art produced by our Grade 12 students is sometimes sold to select visitors or auctioned in our annual fundraiser; forming part of our fundraising efforts for our Bursary Programme.

Drama showcases

Our IBDP Theatre Arts students annually perform their individual assessed pieces in front of members of our community – students, staff and parents.

Confidently presenting themes of tragedy, horror and cultural critique, our students have delivered several impactful and well-researched performances – including a twisting story of a Black Mirror-esque game show for prisoners.


“The infusion of technology in the school has encouraged research and innovation throughout the community.”

– NEASC, 2018


Design (Group 7)

Design (Group 7) is a part of the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme at Halcyon, compulsory from Grade 6-9, and a popular optional subject in Grade 10.

Design challenges students’ creativity by requiring them to combine their skills from different disciplines to create solutions to problems using the design cycle: identifying issues, researching materials and developing final products. This provides students with an opportunity to prepare for the thorough process of research and development involved in the Personal Project (Grade 10) and Extended Essay (Diploma Programme).

Through this process, and an exploration of how past, present and emerging design has developed “within cultural, political, social, historical and environmental contexts”*, our students develop an appreciation of design and respect for alternative viewpoints and solutions.

In Halcyon’s purpose-built design lab, students enjoy time dedicated to analyzing their brief, developing ideas, creating solutions and evaluating their projects. We enjoy showcasing their work, and invite you to learn about some of their projects below.

*Quotations are taken from the International Baccalaureate Subject Guides. Read more:
MYP Curriculum

Super-curricular support

To support our students’ interests in the fascinating world of design, we offer a variety of Explorations and Extra-Curriculars that demand our students think creatively.

Through these options, our students master the design cycle and expand their knowledge on technology, research and even business.


– Makerspace Exploration
– Future Entrepreneurs Exploration
– Trashion Exploration

Work Experience, University and Careers Counselling

– Games! And More Games! Exploration
– Build Your Own Memory Exploration
– Building Wearable Technology Exploration
– Research Exploration

Digital game interdisciplinary unit

In Grade 8’s English/Design Interdisciplinary Unit, students used their coding skills to build an interactive game version of book chapters that they wrote in their English class.

Each student wrote chapters as their own creative additions to ‘The House on Mango Street’ by Sandra Cisneros, and used their critical thinking skills to adapt these narratives to a coded format that could be enjoyed by their peers.

‘Halcyon Who?’ project

Incorporating the real-life contexts our students encounter on a daily basis is key to sparking an environment of inquiry, investigation and analysis.

Grade 7 Design students were tasked with independently researching a staff member’s needs, investigating possible solutions and designing a product – problem-solving skills that lay the path for success. Read our blog below.

Physical and Health Education

“As part of Grade 8’s Nutrition, Principles and Dynamic Movements unit in Physical and Health Education, Halcyon has offered each student the opportunity to wear a Fitbit Inspire HR to personally record data on the interconnected nature of nutrition and physical activity.”

– Ben Hartwright, PHE teacher


Physical and Health Education

Physical and Health Education (PHE) is the Group 8 subject in the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme. Incorporating both physical activity and theoretical study, this subject offers students the opportunity to engage in a wide variety of sports as they learn the importance of achieving and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The activities that students participate in build positive relationships, boosting their abilities in collaboration, communication as well as their understanding of social responsibility – competencies that bolster their attainment in the surrounding curriculum.

Students are challenged to develop their understanding through units that require performance planning, the application of theoretical and practical knowledge and post-performance reflection and evaluation. We have provided some examples of student work below so that you may gain an insight into our students’ dynamic approach to exploring sport, physical health and performance.

Super-curricular support

Building the foundation for a culture of student advocacy must happen in all areas of student life – and that includes sport. We have often sought the consultation of our parents and students on what sporting options and teams they would like to see included in our Extra-Curricular Activities and Explorations.

We are also open to collaborating with external providers to make this happen – including Fit for Sport, who offer a range of daily sporting activities to our students at lunchtime in Stern Hall or Hyde Park.

Sporting Explorations

– Flamenco
– Table Tennis
– Tennis
– Aerobics
– Ice Skating
– Swimming
– Bikeability
– Spin
– Rock Climbing
– Cross Country

Sporting Extra-Curriculars

– Football
– Gymnastics
– Table Tennis
– Running/Cross Country
– Basketball
– Dance

Grade 8 Fitbit data

As part of their Science/Physical and Health Education Interdisciplinary Unit, we provided Fitbit HRs to Grade 8 students and provided them with the responsibility of recording fitness data and using this to inform their health choices.

Students saw firsthand how nutrition and activity affect physiology, and enjoyed communicating what they had learned in their reflections in class and in their discussions outside of class.

Grade 6 and 7 Aesthetic Movement performances

Using their practical and theoretical knowledge, our Grade 6 and 7 students combined their dance skills with fitness techniques in PHE to deliver captivating ‘Aesthetic Movement’ performances in Stern Hall. Students selected their own music and choreographed their own routines – a challenging feat!

With our different groups dancing to atmospheric music, Russian hard bass, pop songs and retro hits, our students confidently used this performance as a chance to showcase their unique personalities and creativity.

Open Mornings

Experience Halcyon at one of our Open Houses on campus, or one of our Virtual Open Houses.

At our Open Houses on campus, you will meet our Director, Barry Mansfield, who will deliver a presentation on Halcyon’s mission, curriculum, subjects, facilities and more. Our Student Ambassadors will take you on a tour of Halcyon’s building, and you will have the opportunity to ask our teachers questions as they deliver their scheduled lessons to their students. A Q&A session with our Director and Admissions Director will follow.