The optional themes of TOK look at five different approaches to producing and using knowledge about the world: indigenous societies, language, politics, religion, and technology, and how they affect us as knowers. Students look at two of these in detail.
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 areas of knowledge. 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 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.
The optional themes and TOK assessment
Your understanding of the themes is assessed primarily via the TOK Exhibition, whereas your knowledge of the AOKs is assessed via . Having said this, you should always remember that knowledge is interlinked and interdependent, so you should never envisage the themes (and areas of knowledge) as existing independently from each other. This is why we encourage you to think in terms of the Big Questions, each one of which requires a combination of themes and areas of knowledge to be understood and answered.
Your understanding of, and engagement with, the themes, comes via contemporary real-life situations. News stories, debates, controversies, issues, and experiences – at a personal, local, national, and international level should form the driving force of the lessons you attend, and the activities you carry out. You should be ready to draw on them to justify your opinions and assertions. Approaching TOK in this way will help you to get to grips with the overall assessment target of the exhibition: how TOK manifests in the real world.
Become a member of theoryofknowledge.net
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
Check out a previous edition of the TOK newsletter here, and look at some of our Big Question lessons on this page. Note that one of the key aspects of this approach to TOK is its updatability: we constantly add new lessons and resources to the Big Question framework, and you’ll receive a fresh TOK newsletter every month, making the course much more responsive and relevant to what’s going on in the world than the traditional textbook approach.
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.