International Baccalaureate

The Middle Years Programme - MYP



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Introduction to MYP humanities
The aim of humanities in the MYP is to encourage students to gain and develop knowledge, conceptual understanding, research skills, analytical and interpretive skills, and communication skills, contributing to the development of the student as a whole. Humanities aims to encourage students to respect and understand the world around them, and to provide a skills base to facilitate further study. This is achieved through the study of individuals, societies and environments in a wide context: historical, contemporary, geographical, political, social, economic, religious, technological and cultural.

Fundamental concepts
The learning associated with humanities should also lead to a close understanding of the fundamental concepts of the MYP:

  • holistic learning

  • intercultural awareness

  • communication.

Holistic learning

MYP humanities encourages students to establish links between subjects, cultures and other areas of experience. The course enables students to develop a wide range of skills that are transferable across other subject groups in the MYP curriculum framework, allowing them to see other subjects from a humanities perspective and vice versa.

Holistic learning breaks down the artificial barriers of the different subjects commonly found on a school timetable, and this is an essential part of the MYP. It requires coordination and integration within humanities and across the curriculum.

Intercultural awareness
The opportunity to develop intercultural awareness through a course in humanities is clear.

The concept of “global awareness” is included in the objectives for humanities and students are exposed to a broader, global context in their studies. Humanities in the MYP encourages in students an understanding of and respect for their own countries and cultures, and those of others.

MYP humanities provides students with opportunities to develop their abilities in different forms of communication. To address the skills-based objectives students will develop skills in questioning, formulating opinions and arguments, making judgments, applying concepts to a real-world context, and carrying out investigations.

To communicate these skills effectively, students develop oral and written communication techniques simultaneously. These techniques include information gathering; speech writing and presentation; document production (including essays and reports); representation using maps, models, diagrams, graphs and tables; and techniques required to work effectively in a group situation.


Aims and objectives
The aims of any MYP subject and of the personal project state in a general way what the teacher may expect to teach or do, and what the student may expect to experience or learn. In addition they suggest how the student may be changed by the learning experience.

The aims of the teaching and study of humanities are to encourage and enable the student to develop:

  • an inquiring mind

  • the skills necessary for the effective study of humanities

  • a sense of time and place

  • a respect for and understanding of others’ perspectives, values and attitudes

  • awareness and understanding of people, cultures and events in a variety of places at different times

  • an understanding of the interactions and interdependence of individuals, societies, and their environments

  • an understanding of the causes and consequences of change through physical and human actions and processes

  • an understanding of contemporary humanities issues

  • a sense of internationalism and a desire to be proactive as a responsible global citizen

  • an awareness of the connections with other subjects

  • a lifelong interest in and enjoyment of humanities.

The objectives of any MYP subject and of the personal project state the specific targets set for learning in the subject. They define what the learner will be able to do, or do better, as a result of studying the subject.

The objectives of humanities listed below relate directly to the assessment criteria, A–D (see “Humanities assessment criteria”).

A - Knowledge
Knowledge is fundamental to studying humanities, and forms the base from which to explore concepts and develop skills.

At the end of the course, the student should be able to:

  • know and use humanities terminology in context

  • demonstrate subject content knowledge and understanding through the use of descriptions and explanations, supported by relevant facts and examples, and may show other ways of knowing.

B - Concepts
Concepts are powerful ideas that have relevance within and across the disciplines. Students should be able to develop an understanding of the following key humanities concepts over the course at increasing levels of sophistication.

Students should understand the concept of “time” not simply as the measurement of years or time periods, but as a continuum of significant events of the past. Students can achieve this through the study of people, issues, events, systems, cultures, societies and environments through time.

At the end of the course, the student should be able to:

  • establish a personal sense of identity in a context of time and place

  • understand different perceptions of time

  • show an understanding of people in past societies

  • demonstrate an awareness of chronology that links people, places and events through time

  • recognize and explain the similarities and differences that exist between people, places and events through time.

Place and space
The concept of “place and space” refers to a student’s awareness of how place/space is categorized, and the significance of place/space in humanities disciplines.

At the end of the course, the student should be able to:

  • recognize, describe and explain patterns and relationships in space, including natural and human environments

  • recognize and explain similarities and differences between places

  • understand constraints and opportunities afforded by location

  • understand issues related to place/space on a local, national and global scale.

Change necessitates an examination of the forces that shape the world. It may be viewed as positive or negative based on people’s perceptions. The concept of “change” addresses both the processes and results of change—natural and artificial, intentional and unintentional.

At the end of the course, the student should be able to:

  • understand and explain short-term and long-term causes of change

  • establish and explain links between causes, processes and consequences

  • recognize and explain continuity and change

  • recognize that change is inevitable and that the rate of change is relevant to the context

  • understand that as people interact with their environment, both change

  • understand and explain how environmental, political, economic and social interactions can change levels of sustainability.

The concept of “systems” refers to the awareness that everything is connected to a system or systems. Systems provide structure and order to both natural and artificial domains.

At the end of the course, the student should be able to understand, identify and compare:

  • how systems, models and institutions operate

  • social structures and controls

  • the complex and dynamic nature of systems

  • different types of equilibrium within systems

  • systems in local, national and global societies

  • rights and responsibilities within systems

  • cooperation within and between systems.

Global awareness
The concept of “global awareness” engages students in a broader global context and encourages understanding of, and respect for, other societies and cultures. It also emphasizes the need to understand one’s own culture in order to understand others’ cultures.

At the end of the course, the student should be able to:

  • explain different perceptions of places, societies and environments

  • show an understanding of how culture and perception can affect a sense of internationalism

  • show an understanding of the interdependence of societies

  • demonstrate international and intercultural awareness and understanding

  • explore issues facing the international community

  • recognize issues of equality, justice and responsibility

  • know when and how to take responsible action where relevant.

C - Skills
The development of skills in humanities is critical in enabling the student to undertake research and demonstrate their understanding of knowledge and concepts. Students should be able to demonstrate the following skills during the humanities course to an increasing level of sophistication.

Technical skills
At the end of the course, the student should be able to:

  • observe, select and record relevant information from a wide range of sources

  • use a variety of media and technologies to research, select, interpret and communicate data

  • use sources such as maps, graphs, tables, atlases, photographs and statistics, in a critical manner

  • represent information using maps, models and diagrams, including use of scale, graphs and tables.

Analytical skills
At the end of the course, the student should be able to:

  • analyse and interpret information from a wide range of sources

  • identify key questions, problems and issues

  • critically evaluate the values and limitations of sources

  • compare and contrast events, issues, ideas, models and arguments in a range of contexts.

Decision-making skills
At the end of the course, the student should be able to:

  • develop appropriate strategies to address issues

  • formulate clear, valid and sound arguments, make balanced judgments on events, and draw conclusions, including implications

  • make well-substantiated decisions and relate them to real-world contexts.

Investigative skills
At the end of the course, the student should be able to:

  • test hypotheses and/or ideas and modify them where necessary

  • plan, carry out and present individual and group investigations

  • engage in fieldwork in order to complement an investigation.

D - Organization and presentation
Students should be comfortable using a variety of formats to organize and present their work (including oral presentations, essays, reports, expositions) and using a variety of media and technologies. They should understand that their presentation is creating a new perspective on humanities.

At the end of the course, the student should be able to:

  • communicate information that is relevant to the topic

  • organize information in a logically sequenced manner, appropriate to the format used

  • present and express information and ideas in a clear and concise manner, using appropriate language, style and visual representation

  • use referencing and a bibliography to clearly document sources of information, using appropriate conventions.