Secondary Programme

At CIS, the Secondary programme aims to empower students to develop the knowledge, skills, attitudes and personal qualities they need to participate effectively in life in the 21st century.

Years 7 through 11 are focused on encouraging students to be open-minded, independent learners who are active and contributing members of the community. Through a balanced curriculum, an extensive student affairs programme, a variety of co-curricular activities (CCAs), and a focus on service, students are provided with a holistic learning environment that encourages life-long learning.

Years 12 and 13 maintain the whole-person approach, offering an academically challenging and engaging programme with a focus on helping students develop their intellectual curiosity, confidence, independence, and leadership capacity.

IB Programmes at CIS

The International Baccalaureate Organisation's Middle Years and Diploma programmes have been adopted as the frameworks for the CIS curriculum because of their convergence with the CIS mission and because of the internationally recognised qualifications that they confer. CIS has long experience with the IB programmes, having offered the IBDP since 1992, and the IBMYP since 2002.

All students in Years 7-10 pursue the Middle Years Programme (IBMYP) and all students in Years 12-13 pursue the Diploma Programme (IBDP). During Year 10, all students complete an internally assessed, service-focused Community Project. At the end of Year 13, students sit internationally administered exams.

CIS has achieved exceptional results, with both top marks obtained by individual students as well as consistently strong average point scores achieved by large cohorts.

Universities around the world enthusiastically accept the IB Diploma for university entrance.

Hangzhou CIS

Please view the Hangzhou section of this site to learn more about CIS's flagship Year 10 programme.

Dual-Language Learning

Students at every year-level take both English and Chinese throughout their time at CIS. In Years 7-9, specific units within Individuals and Societies are specifically offered as dual-language courses. Secondary students also have the opportunity to study either French or Spanish.

Please note: beginning level Chinese classes are offered at several year levels, and students without prior knowledge of Chinese may apply for CIS. Traditional full-form characters are generally used, with simplified characters used 1) for foundation classes, 2) for students who have previously used only simplified characters, and 3) for specific materials generated in simplified characters.

Experiential Learning

All students take part in these core out-of-classroom learning opportunities:
  • Year 7-9 Camps - week-long outdoor challenge activities in Hong Kong (October)
  • Year 7-9 China Experience Programme - Chinese instruction, cultural experience, service and interaction with local communities in Xi'an, Nanjing, Yantai or Yangshuo (May)
  • Year 10-12 Project Week - week-long trips or work experience for Years 10-12 in Hong Kong and overseas (October)

More About the IB at CIS

The IB Learner Profile

The aim of all IB programmes is to develop internationally minded people who, recognising their common humanity and shared guardianship of the planet, help to create a better and more peaceful world.

IB learners strive to be:

    • Inquirers
    • Knowledgeable
    • Thinkers
    • Communicators
    • Principled
    • Open-Minded
    • Caring
    • Risk-takers
    • Balanced
    • Reflective


The CIS curriculum provides learning in a broad base of disciplines to ensure that students acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to prepare for the future and to make connections between their learning and the world around them.

The IBMYP model is built on the belief that learning and understanding grow through active and engaged participation in the process of developing meaning, rather than through passively acquiring knowledge. This focus on student engagement is fostered through the development of conceptual, and contextual understandings. These elements come together to help students gain perspective on how their learning is linked to the world beyond the classroom, and to develop conceptual understandings to promote higher-level thinking.

The IBMYP promotes the principle of concurrent learning, whereby students study a balanced curriculum each year. As students mature and develop thinking skills, they explore the disciplines with increasing depth and realise how they are linked to each other and to global issues. In Years 10 and 11, subjects are studied to a deeper level than previously, in preparation for the IBDP in Years 12 and 13.

IBMYP Course Selection

The IBO requires schools to provide structured learning in eight subject groups, in each year of the IBMYP, to achieve a broad and balanced education throughout the programme.

These subject groups are represented in the curriculum at CIS, as follows:

    • Language & Literature: English and a second course in Chinese (Mandarin) is possible as an alternative to Language Acquisition
    • Language Acquisition: Chinese (Mandarin) is a mandatory second language, but French or Spanish may be taken as an additional Language Acquisition subject
    • Mathematics
    • Sciences (Biology, Chemistry & Physics coordinated)
    • Individuals & Societies (Integrated Humanities, History, Economics & Geography)
    • Visual & Performing Arts (Film, Visual Art, Drama & Music)
    • Physical & Health Education
    • Design (Digital Design & Product Design)

Elective 3rd languages:

    • French or Spanish

The IBMYP "Community Project"

The Community Project is a long-term independent project that students complete as part of their middle years experience. The student determines a need within a community and sets an appropriately challenging project to service that need.

Students start the Community Project in the fall of Year 10 and will complete the project in the spring. The Community Project provides an excellent opportunity for students to actively engage in a community of their choice, and demonstrate the skills they have developed throughout the MYP. The Community Project also provides students with an additional opportunity to develop valuable research and communication skills, which will support them as they transition to the IB Diploma and complete their Creativity, Service and Action (CAS) requirements.

In Years 7, 8 and 9, students develop the appropriate research skills and understanding through Global Contexts, especially Approaches To Learning, to enable them to successfully plan and implement their Community Project in Year 10.

Examples of Community Projects include:

    • an original work of art (visual, dramatic, performance, etc.),
    • a written piece of work on a special topic (literary, social, psychological, anthropological, etc.),
    • a piece of literary fiction (creative writing),
    • a local historical study,
    • a piece of geographical fieldwork,
    • an original science experiment,
    • an invention or specially designed object or system,
    • the presentation of a business, management or organisational plan, for an entrepreneurial project, special event, or new student or community organisation.

Transition from the IBMYP & Readiness for the IBDP

The IBMYP provides a framework which has enabled CIS subject departments to tailor their courses to the prerequisites for the transition to the IBDP.

Each department has planned its curriculum for the five years of the IBMYP, and especially for Years 10 and 11, from the starting point of what knowledge, skills, conceptual grasp and personal qualities the ideal student needs to have on the threshold of the IB Diploma at the end of Year 11.

The varied assessment methods employed in the IBMYP, incorporating, but not relying exclusively on testing/examining, prepare students fully for the demands of the rigorous assessment of both written and oral work in the IBDP. IBMYP graduates succeed not only in the more traditional forms of individual assessment, but are also able to excel in areas where the crucially important qualities of innovation, creativity and collaboration are at a premium.

The aims of both IB programmes closely match the CIS mission statement. They both:

    • require study across a broad and balanced range of knowledge domains including languages, humanities, science and technology, mathematics and the arts, drawing content from educational cultures across the world;
    • give special emphasis to language acquisition and development;
    • provide opportunities for engaging in interdisciplinary learning;
    • focus on developing the skills of learning, culminating in a study of the Theory of Knowledge in the Diploma programme.

The Diploma Programme is appropriate for motivated, intellectually curious students who seek a challenging and engaging academic experience that will prepare them well for university-level study. All CIS students enter Year 12 as candidates for the full IB Diploma; there are no alternative pathways to graduation offered at CIS.

Students seeking entry to CIS for Year 12 are expected to demonstrate that their previous academic experiences have prepared them for the rigorous expectations of the IBDP.


All Year 12 and 13 students at Chinese International School study for the internationally recognised and highly respected International Baccalaureate Diploma.

The two-year IB Diploma Program (IBDP) allows students significant choice of subjects and levels of study, within a framework that emphasises links within and across disciplines, promotes an understanding and appreciation of human diversity and commonality, and empowers students to take initiative in the classroom and in the community.

IB Diploma students develop thinking skills, communication skills, social skills, research skills, and self-management skills; these approaches to learning will serve them well in their university studies and as lifelong learners.

While each Diploma subject involves different content, skills, methods, and expectations, all IB courses require critical and analytical thinking and allow students to hone their oral and written communication skills. Students demonstrate mastery in a variety of ways; assessment in each course is based on a range of internally and externally assessed activities undertaken over the two-year period, in addition to final examinations at the end of Year 13.

IBDP Course Selection

At CIS, IB Diploma students choose six subjects, which are taught concurrently over the course of the two-year programme. Students choose their subjects from a wide range of offerings, and each student’s unique, individualised programme reflects his or her interests, prior learning, and future goals. However, these choices are made within a framework that ensures breadth as well as depth.

Students must select one subject from each of the following five groups:

    1. English,
    2. Chinese,
    3. Humanities,
    4. Sciences,
    5. and Mathematics.

The sixth subject is an elective. Students are encouraged to select an Art subject, but may choose another elective if they wish.

    • Visual Arts,
    • Theatre,
    • Music,
    • Film,
    • Economics,
    • Chemistry,
    • Computer Science,
    • Further Mathematics,
    • French,
    • or Spanish.

In addition to those six subjects, all Diploma students also complete three "core" requirements:

    • the “Creativity, Activity and Service” programme, which exposes to students to new experiences outside the classroom, develops leadership potential, and supports the development of an ethos of service;
    • the “Extended Essay,” an independent research project on a topic of the student’s choice;
    • and the interdisciplinary “Theory of Knowledge” course.

The IBDP "Extended Essay"

All IB Diploma students complete the Extended Essay, an independent, self-directed piece of research on a topic of the student’s choice, culminating in a 4,000-word paper.

The Extended Essay provides practical preparation for undergraduate research as well as an opportunity for students to investigate a topic of special interest to them.

Through the research process for the extended essay, students develop skills in:

    • formulating an appropriate research question, engaging in a personal exploration of the topic, communicating ideas, and developing an argument.

Participation in this process develops the capacity to analyse, synthesise and evaluate knowledge.

Students work on their Extended Essay from January of Year 12 through November of Year 13. They are supported and guided throughout the process of researching and writing the essay by their supervisor and the school’s Extended Essay Coordinator, a research specialist who also serves as the Secondary Teacher-Librarian.

Here are titles of some Extended Essays written by recent CIS students:

    • Biology: Does deviation from neutral pH affect the germination and growth of Vigna radiata?
    • Chinese: 香港、台灣和中國大陸的巴士乘客須知如何呈現兩岸三地思想文化的異同? = 香港、台湾和中国大陆的巴士乘客须知如何呈现两岸三地思想文化的异同?
    • Economics: To what extent is the Hong Kong government's no-idling ban effective in correcting roadside pollution's negative externality of consumption, and hence improving roadside air quality?
    • French: Quels sont les aspects de la langue les plus couramment utilisés dans la publicité écrite francophone?
    • Geography: A case study of a public housing estate: an assessment of the external architecture and design in relation to the needs of elderly residents.
    • Mathematics: To what extent can Heron's formula be extended to higher degrees of polygons and dimensions?
    • Physics: How is the rotation of the plane of polarised light affected by the magnitude of magnetic field, the length of optical medium and the wavelength of the light?
    • Psychology: What is the nature of the relationship between pretend play and cognitive and social development in children?

IBDP Results

Congratulations to Our Students

We believe the results below testify not only to CIS’s culture of achievement, but also to the commitment of our teachers to nurturing the talents of all students.

The combination of the two put CIS in the top echelon of IB schools, with very consistent results from year to year.

In 2018, 109 members of the Class of 2018 sat examinations for the full IB Diploma, and 100% were successful in earning the Diploma. The average total Diploma score was 37.8 points out of a maximum 45 points.

Results are consistently very strong with 38.5% of students scoring more than 40 points, which is often considered the threshold for entry to the world's top university programmes.

Year 7-11 Subjects

Students take at least ONE subject from each of these groups.

English Language & Literature

    • Chinese Language & Literature
    • Chinese Language Acquisition

    • Mathematics
    • Extended Mathematics

    • Biology, Chemistry & Physics coordinated

Individuals & Societies
    • Economics
    • Geography
    • History

Physical & Health Education
    • Drama
    • Film
    • Music
    • Visual Arts

    • Digital Design
    • Product Design

In addition, students may choose to study a third language from the following two options:

    • French Language Acquisition
    • Spanish Language Acquisition

Year 12-13 Subjects
(IB Diploma Programme)

Students take ONE subject from each of these groups.

    • English Literature

    • Chinese Literature
    • Chinese Language & Literature
    • Chinese B (Language Acquisition)

    • Economics
    • Geography
    • History
    • Psychology

    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Physics
    • Design Technology

    • Mathematics
    • Math Studies

    • Film
    • Music
    • Theatre
    • Visual Arts


    • French B
    • Spanish B
    • Economics
    • Chemistry
    • Computer Science
    • Further Mathematics
    • Self-Taught Literature

All courses are offered at both Standard or Higher Level, except for Math Studies which are only offered at Standard Level.

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