Areas of knowledge

Alongside the core and optional themes, the 2022 TOK course includes five ‘areas of knowledge’. Students should aim to develop a detailed familiarity with all of them, and be prepared to demonstrate this within the essay.
The areas of knowledge are broad categories into which we place our understanding of the world. Although each one deals with a different form of knowledge, they all comprise a diverse range of fields, and there is plenty of overlapping between them. So the first point to grasp is that the areas of knowledge do not exist in isolation.
We consider the optional themes via six ‘Big Questions’, which provide us with a framework to make sense of this part of the course, and link it to the other elements of the course – the core theme, and the optional themes. Clink on the BQ images below to access a huge amount of free content, including quotes, notes, and media sources relevant to each BQ.
Members of the site also have access to the Exploration Points, which provide students with a checklist of essential terms and concepts, questions on the quotes and real-life situations, and suggestions for further research. To unlock the members-only features, join us via this page

The arts includes all the forms of expression that we use to communicate our creative instincts and intellects. We look at the arts via the perspectives of creators, the audience, and critics, and think about the relationships that exist between them.
History is the study of the past, rather than the past itself. This means that history in TOK is more akin to ‘historiography’, although we consider the way ‘ordinary’ knowers – not just professional historians – process the past.
The Human sciences is a huge area of knowledge, encompassing any discipline – psychology, economics, anthropology, sociology, etc. – that involves the study of human behaviour on an individual and societal level.
Mathematics is not only an area of knowledge in its own right, but forms the basis of many other fields that we consider in TOK, such as physics, economics, technology, and even music.
The Natural sciences also has an exceptionally wide-ranging scope, including both the experimental sciences and, increasingly as society develops, more abstract, theoretical sciences.

The 2022 TOK syllabus

Here’s our diagram for the 2022 TOK syllabus, indicating the nature of the different aspects of the course, and suggesting the relationship that exists between the core theme, optional themes, and the areas of knowledge.

Feel free to print out and display the diagram on your classroom wall – it should help to prompt some discussions with your students about why TOK is structured in this way, how the different elements interlink, and the reasons for the changes and additions made to the course.

Become a member of

We passionately believe that our pioneering resources for TOK are the best in the world, and enable teachers to deliver a truly life-changing experience for their students. In order to unlock all these resources, become a Full Access Member of the site, and set your whole school community up with the following features:

Revolutionary lessons for a revolutionary course

Our revolutionary BQ framework organizes the TOK course into questions, each one consisting of a series of fully resourced TOK lessons, delivered on beautifully designed Google Slides and Docs.


Learning based on the latest real-life situations

Our unique monthly TOK newsletter provides links to articles, videos, podcasts, and other media sources, and detailed suggestions on how to explore and unpack them.


The DP Integration Tool

The DP Integration Tool brings together the different elements of the DP, allowing non-TOK teachers to draw on the course to both enrich their own teaching, and provide an integrated learning experience for students.

Exploration Points

On every free content page, you’ll be able to access our Exploration Points section, with key terms and concepts to grasp, questions on the quotes and thinkers, and unpacking suggestions for the real-life situations.

Full support’s creator, Michael Dunn can always be contacted about the content of the resources. He is always reachable via email, and will get back to you quickly with a comprehensive response to whatever you are asking.

Contact us

Get in touch with us about the 2022 TOK course, our membership options, or any other aspect of TOK, using the contact form below. Find out who we are on this page, and what people have been saying about us here.

Cite this page as: Dunn, Michael. Areas of knowledge (20 December 2015). Last accessed: 7 July 2020