IB@Nesbru vgs

Satelite site for the IB Diploma programme at Nesbru videregående skole

Visual arts

The process involved in the study and production of visual arts is central to developing capable, inquiring and knowledgeable young people, and encourages students to locate their ideas within international contexts. The course encourages an active exploration of visual arts within the students’ own and other cultural contexts. The study of visual arts and the journey within it encourages respect for cultural and aesthetic differences and promotes creative thinking and problem solving.

Visual arts continually create new possibilities and can challenge traditional boundaries. This is evident both in the way we make art and in the way we understand what artists from around the world do. Theory and practice in visual arts are dynamic, ever changing and connect many areas of study and human experience through individual and collaborative production and interpretation.

New ways of expressing ideas help to make visual arts one of the most interesting and challenging areas of learning and experience. The processes of designing and making art require a high level of cognitive activity that is both intellectual and affective. Engagement in the arts promotes a sense of identity and makes a unique contribution to the lifelong learning of each student. Study of visual arts provides students with the opportunity to develop a critical and intensely personal view of themselves in relation to the world.

The Diploma Programme visual arts course enables students to engage in both practical exploration and artistic production, and in independent contextual, visual and critical investigation. The course is designed to enable students to study visual arts in higher education and also welcomes those students who seek life enrichment through visual arts.

Prior learning

The Diploma Programme visual arts course is designed to offer students the opportunity to build on prior experience while encouraging them to develop and use new skills, techniques and ideas. While it is possible to take the Diploma Programme visual arts course without previous experience, this is helpful, particularly at HL.

Difference between HL and SL

Because of the nature of the subject, quality work in visual arts can be produced by students at both HL and SL. The aims and assessment objectives are the same for visual arts students at both HL and SL. Through a variety of teaching approaches, all students are encouraged to develop their creative and critical abilities and to enhance their knowledge, appreciation and enjoyment of visual arts.
The course content for HL and SL may be the same. However, due to the different amount of time available for each, students at HL have the opportunity to develop ideas and skills, to produce a larger body of work and work of greater depth. In order to reflect this, the assessment criteria are differentiated according to option and level.
There need be no direct relationship between the number of works produced, the time spent on each, and the quality achieved: a high level of performance at either HL or SL can be achieved in both a large and small body of work.

Syllabus outline

Studio work

Students are introduced to art concepts and techniques through practical work in the studio. The development of studio techniques is essential to help students explore the potential for expression and to understand the relationship between theory and practice.

To support students’ abilities to express themselves in visual arts at both HL and SL the course includes opportunities for a structured approach to:
  • the exploration of media, including the use of material and equipment
  • the exploration and development of artistic qualities in visual arts
  • the study of relationships between form, meaning and content in visual arts
  • the study of a variety of social and cultural functions of visual arts
  • the appreciation and evaluation of their own work and that of others.

Students are encouraged to explore art, craft and design traditions from past, present and emerging cultural backgrounds, and local, national and international contexts.
At the end of the course, students should have produced studio work that communicates their understanding of conceptual content, their technical skill and their sense of critical awareness. They should also have developed an understanding of the artistic process from the generation of initial ideas through the various stages that lead to the completion of a final studio work.

Investigation workbooks

The purpose of the investigation workbooks is to encourage personal investigation into visual arts, which must be closely related to the studio work undertaken. The investigation workbooks should incorporate contextual, visual and critical investigation. They should function as working documents and support the student’s independent, informed investigation and studio practice. Investigation workbooks provide an opportunity for reflection and discovery and they play a key role in allowing ideas to take shape and grow. They should contain visual and written material that address contextual, visual and critical aspects of the investigation. They should also reflect the student’s interests and include wide-ranging first-hand investigations into issues and ideas related to visual arts.


Student learning is continuously assessed through evaluation of the students’ ongoing studio work and their work with the investigation workbook and as well as through dialogue and discussions between students and teacher.

The final assessment from the IB consists of the following components:

The internal assessment component is assessed by subject teacher and moderated externally by the IBO at the end of the course. This component makes up 40% of the final grade and consists of selected pages of his or her investigation workbooks that have been produced during the course.

external assessment component consists of an exhibition at the end of the course where students presents a selection of their works and an interview with a visiting examiner.

Adapted from the IB Visual arts guide © International Baccalaureate Organization