Natural sciences

Welcome to our new section on the Natural Sciences, one of the 2022 areas of knowledge for TOK. We explore it via our Big Question framework, which provides us with a comprehensive and convenient ‘lens’ through which to view and make sense of this area of knowledge.
Each question considers a different aspect of knowledge about the natural sciences, and our relationship as knowers with them. We use this framework to investigate all the different aspects of the new TOK course (the optional and core themes, and the areas of knowledge), and it also provides us with the unit structure for our TOK lessons, which are available to members of the site.
The Big Questions should definitely not be viewed as being isolated and separate from one another – they overlap, and are interlinked. For example, the scope of knowledge (dealt with in BQ1) changes over time (BQ5). The way ideas are communicated (BQ3) relates to our personal and societal perspectives (BQ4). Whether someone is an expert knower (BQ6) depends on the purpose of the knowledge they produce (BQ2). There are many other relationships between the BQs, something that students can think about as they use the framework to explore this aspect of the course.
The links below take you to a wide range of free content, including quotes, notes, and real-life situations relevant to the 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.

Foundations, our first Big Question, asks, ‘What are the natural sciences, and why do we study them?’ It looks at the nature of this area of knowledge, and the reasons for building an understanding of it.
Values, Big Question 2, asks, ‘What can we learn about our values via an understanding of the natural sciences?’ It explores the ethical context of this area of knowledge, and what insights this can give us.
Spin, Big Question 3, asks, ‘How is our understanding of the natural sciences influenced by the way knowledge is communicated?’ It looks at how knowledge can be consciously and unconsciously manipulated by the way it is represented.
Perspectives, our fourth Big Question, asks, ‘How do our perspectives and biases shape the way we understand the natural sciences?’ It considers how personal and cultural biases can warp the way knowledge is produced.
Creativity, our fifth Big Question, asks, ‘How is new knowledge created about the natural sciences?’ It looks at how new ideas appear within and about this area of knowledge, and how they develop over time.
Experts, our final Big Question, asks, ‘How do we become discerning knowers about the natural sciences?’ It considers what characterizes an expert level of understanding, and the nuanced approach that might distinguish it.

Discussion points on the natural sciences

Our ‘discussion point’ documents look at many different questions and issues related to the areas of knowledge, as well as key theories and thinkers that have shaped our understanding of the world. Click on the links below to take you to the discussion point documents for the natural sciences.
Theories and thinkers on the natural sciences
How do we acquire knowledge in the natural sciences?
What qualifies a method as scientific?
How has scientific progress shaped our worldview?

Why do we apply the BQ framework to TOK?

The 2022 TOK syllabus is divided into three different elements: the core theme, the optional themes, and the areas of knowledge. It is assessed via the TOK essay and the TOK exhibition. Why then, do we offer the BQ framework as our way of organizing and structuring the course? Here are eight reasons why we believe that the BQ framework is by far the best way of delivering the TOK course:


It creates a coherent course

The BQ framework gives learners and educators a clear and understandable structure, with accessible points of inquiry that can be applied to all aspects of the course.


It emphasizes the integrated nature of knowledge

Rather than dividing knowledge into discrete, isolated elements, the BQ framework encourages students to view knowledge as interlinking and interdependent.


It prepares students for the assessment tasks

The question-based approach prepares students for the assessment tasks – particularly the new TOK essay – extensively and effectively.


It opens up TOK

The BQ framework allows all subject teachers within the school to access the course, at any point, whether they are directly involved with TOK or not.


It makes TOK relevant

The BQ structure allows TOK concepts and ideas to be more easily applied to, and used by, other DP subjects, students’ own experiences, and the real world.


It is strongly informed by ATT

Units that are based on questions make the TOK course inherently inquiry-driven and predicated on conceptual learning, two of the key IB approaches to teaching.


It makes TOK more marketable

The BQ framework facilitates the marketing of TOK to all stakeholders in the school community: current and prospective DP students, teachers, and parents.


It works!

Our original BQ framework comprising 8 BQs, has been a massive success around the world, with nearly 800 DP schools, in over 100 countries, using it to deliver 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. Natural sciences (2 December 2019). Last accessed: 3 July 2020