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 9 are foundational years focused on encouraging students to be active, open-minded, independent learners. Through a balanced curriculum, an extensive student affairs programme and a variety of co-curricular activities (CCAs), students are provided with a holistic learning environment that encourages life-long learning.

Years 10 and 11 are unique programmes that encourage students to develop greater self-knowledge while also becoming more active contributors to the various communities to which they belong. The Year 10 experience takes place at Hangzhou CIS and offers considerable scope for personalised, project-based and interdisciplinary learning, as well as a focus on service. In Year 11, students return to the Hong Kong campus and undertake a school-developed curriculum and assessment model, designed to bridge the gap between MYP and DP expectations, while aligning with the Hangzhou experience.

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.

A Single Pathway

Dual-Language Learning

Students at every year-level take both English and Chinese throughout their time at CIS.

  • English and Chinese are for the most part independent subject courses, although in Years 7-9, specific units within Individuals and Societies are offered as a dual-language course.
  • Among other learning aims, students also have the chance to experience Mandarin as an everyday language through the China Experience Programme (see below).
  • In Year 10, the Hangzhou CIS programme offers students an unprecedented opportunity to use their language skills in daily life and through carefully planned beyond the classroom learning activities over the course of a full academic year.
  • Please note:
    • Beginning level Chinese classes are offered at several year levels, and students without prior knowledge of Chinese may apply. 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.
    • Secondary students also have the opportunity to study either French or Spanish, beginning in Year 7.


All students take part in these core out-of-classroom learning opportunities:

  • Year 7-9 Camps (Oct): Week-long outdoor challenge activities in Hong Kong
  • Year 10-12 Project Week (Oct or May): Week-long trips or work experience for Year 10HZ in mainland China (May) and for Years 11-12 in Hong Kong and overseas (Oct)
  • Year 7-9 China Experience Programme (May): One- or two-week language-study, service and travel experiences in mainland China; current destinations are Xi’an, Nanjing, Yantai and Yangshuo


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

IB Programmes at CIS

The International Baccalaureate Organisation's Middle Years and Diploma programmes have been adopted as the frameworks for much of 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 7-9 pursue the Middle Years Programme (IBMYP) and all students in Years 12-13 pursue the Diploma Programme (IBDP). Students in the final year of the IBMYP complete an internally assessed, service-focused Community Project. In Year 11, students pursue a school-based curriculum. These form a transition from the IBMYP and Hangzhou year into the IBDP.

At the end of Year 13, students sit internationally IB-administered exams. CIS has achieved exceptional results, with both top marks obtained by individual students, but even more notably, consistently strong average point scores achieved by large cohorts.

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

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, skills and conceptual understanding 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 will set an appropriately challenging project to service that need.

The students will 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, Activity and Service (CAS) requirements.

In Years 7, 8 and 9, students develop the appropriate research skills and understanding through Global Contexts, 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.

Year 11: School-Developed Curriculum & Assessment

In August 2018, the school embarked on an exciting initiative with regards to the Year 11 academic programme. There has been a move away from the MYP assessment criteria to a school-developed assessment criteria model, with a number of new units being implemented in different subject areas. By implementing this change, the school has been able to design, structure and assess student development based on learning objectives and criteria more closely linked with bridging the gap between MYP and DP expectations. There is a desire to allow students to align their academic experiences more closely with the interdisciplinary work, and project based learning, which is central to the Hangzhou experience in Year 10.

An example of this is the Year 11 Science course which operates on a rotational basis in the first semester. Students rotate through three, six week units, with three different teachers, in Biology, Chemistry and Physics. In the second semester, students choose one Science Elective, based on their specific interest, from three offered: Space Science, Marine Science, and Food Science.

Similarly, in English, students choose an Elective in the second semester based on their interest of a range of texts and themes being offered.

In lieu of the MYP Personal Project, students take a Research Skills course that ensures the effective use of ATL skills, as well as providing a solid foundation for both the DP’s Extended Essay, and post-secondary education research methods.

It is envisaged that the next stage of development of the Year 11 academic programme will incorporate even more student choice in terms of interdisciplinary electives and project based learning opportunities.


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. Individuals & Societies,
    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,
    • 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 2019, 91 members of the Class of 2019 sat examinations for the full IB Diploma, and 100% were successful in earning the Diploma. The average total Diploma score was 38 points out of a maximum 45 points.

Results are consistently very strong with 39.6% 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 (Computer Science for Y11)
  • 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 Language and Literature
  • English Literature

  • Chinese Literature
  • Chinese Language & Literature
  • Chinese B (Language Acquisition)
  • Chinese Ab Initio SL

  • Economics
  • Geography
  • History
  • Psychology

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Design Technology
  • Sports, Exercise & Health Science

  • Mathematics: Analysis & Approaches
  • Mathematics: Applications & Interpretation

  • Film
  • Music
  • Theatre
  • Visual Arts


  • French B
  • Spanish B
  • Economics
  • Chemistry
  • Computer Science
  • Further Maths

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