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History IB

HIST Study Guide

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Internal Assessment

History IA Specifics

Internally Assessed History Project is assessed by your teacher and externally moderated by the IB at the end of the course. Students produce a written commentary based on three to five supporting documents about a real issue or problem facing a particular organization.

Maximum 1500 words. Historical investigation
Duration: 20 hrs
SL Weighting: 25%

HL Weighting: 20%

Word limit: 2,200 words


History students are required to complete a historical investigation into a topic of their choice and the investigation consists of three sections.

  1. Identification and  evaluation of sources

  2. Investigation

  3. Reflection


IB History students choose their own topic for their historical investigation, The topic of choice for IB History students must be related to the syllabus and must be historical. History students choose their own topic, however, their topic and research questions will require guidance and approval from their History teacher. The investigation is an opportunity for students to demonstrate skills and knowledge of a specific historical topic and focus is on a specific historical question that enables the student to develop and apply the skills of a historian. Students will research, select, evaluate and use evidence to reach a relevant conclusion consistent with the evidence and arguments that have been put forward.


Structure of Your History IA Investigation
Section 1: Identification and evaluation of sources

You must analyse in detail two of the sources that you will use in your History investigation and these sources can be either primary or secondary sources. A crucial element of section 1 is your formulation of an appropriate question to investigate. The six key concepts for the history course (causation, consequence, continuity, change, significance and perspectives) will be your starting point, furthermore, you must:

  • state the question you have chosen to investigate

  • include a brief explanation of the nature and relevance of the two sources you have selected for your detailed IB IA analysis

  • analyse two sources in detail with reference to the origins, purpose and content, the value and limitations of the two sources


Words in Section 1: 500

Marks Allocated: 6 


Section 2: Investigation

I this section you must be clearly and effectively structured and must contain critical analysis that is focused clearly on your IA question, and must include your conclusion that was drawn from your analysis. Furthermore, you'll be required to use a range of evidence to support you argument and you may uuse primary and/or secondary sources. Your internal assessment task provides scope for a wide variety of different types of historical investigation, for example:
•     historical topic or theme using a variety of written sources or a variety of written and non-written sources
•     historical topic based on fieldwork (e.g. museum, archeological site, places of worship such as mosques or churches, etc.)
•     local history study


Words in Section 2: 1,300

Marks Allocated: 15 


Section 3: Reflection

You will be required to reflect on what undertaking in section 3 and explore your investigation methods and the challenges faced by the historian.

Examples of discussion questions that may help to encourage reflection include the following.

  • What methods used by historians did you use in your investigation?

  • What did your investigation highlight to you about the limitations of those methods?

  • What are the challenges facing the historian? How do they differ from the challenges facing a scientist or a mathematician?

  • What challenges in particular does archive-based history present?

  • How can the reliability of sources be evaluated?

  • What is the difference between bias and selection?

  • What constitutes a historical event?

  • Who decides which events are historically significant?

  • Is it possible to describe historical events in an unbiased way?

  • What is the role of the historian?

  • Should terms such as “atrocity” be used when writing about history, or should value judgments be avoided?

  • If it is difficult to establish proof in history, does that mean that all versions are equally acceptable?


Words in Section 3: 400

Marks Allocated: 64


History IA Overview of Word Limit and Allocated Marks

Section: (A) Identification and evaluation of sources

Word Limit: 500

Marks Allocated: 6


Section: (B) Investigation

Word Limit: 1,300

Marks Allocated: 15


Section: (C) Reflection

Word Limit: 400

Marks Allocated: 4


Total Word Limit: 2,200

Total Marks Allocated: 25 marks



History Assessment Criteria for Internal Assessment 
Criterion A -- Identification and Evaluation of Sources (6 marks)

0 >> The work does not reach a standard described by the descriptors below.
1–2 >> The question for investigation has been stated. The student has identified and selected appropriate sources, but there is little or no explanation of the relevance of the sources to the investigation. The response describes but does not analyse or evaluate, two of the sources.
3–4 >> An appropriate question for investigation has been stated. The student has identified and selected appropriate sources, and there is some explanation of the relevance of the sources to the investigation. There is some analysis and evaluation of two sources, but the reference to their value and limitations is limited.
5–6 >> An appropriate question for investigation has been clearly stated. The student has identified and selected appropriate and relevant sources, and there is a clear explanation of the relevance of the sources to the investigation. There is a detailed analysis and evaluation of two sources with explicit discussion of the value and limitations of two of the sources for the investigation,


Criterion B -- Investigation (15 marks)

0 >> The work does not reach a standard described by the descriptors below.
1–3 >> The investigation lacks clarity and coherence and is poorly organized. Where there is a recognizable structure there is a minimal focus. The response contains little or no critical analysis. It may consist mostly of generalizations and poorly substantiated assertions. Reference is made to evidence from sources, but there is no analysis of that evidence.
4–6 >> There is an attempt to organize the investigation but this is only partially successful, and the investigation lacks clarity and coherence. The investigation contains some limited critical analysis but the response is primarily narrative/descriptive in nature, rather than analytical. Evidence from sources is included but is not integrated into the analysis/argument.
7–9 >> The investigation is generally clear and well organized, but there is some repetition or lack of clarity. The response moves beyond description to include some analysis or critical commentary, but this is not sustained. There is an attempt to integrate evidence from sources with the analysis/argument. There may be awareness of different perspectives, but these perspectives are not evaluated.

10–12 >> The investigation is generally clear and well organized, although there may be some repetition or lack of clarity in places. The investigation contains critical analysis, although this analysis may lack development or clarity. Evidence from a range of sources is used to support the argument. There is an awareness and some evaluation of different perspectives and the investigation argues to a reasoned conclusion.
13–15 >> The investigation is clear, coherent and effectively organized. The investigation contains well-developed critical analysis that is focused clearly on the stated question. Evidence from a range of sources is used effectively to support the argument. There is an evaluation of different perspectives and the investigation argues to a reasoned conclusion that is consistent with the evidence and arguments provided.

Criterion C: Reflection (4 marks)

0 >> The work does not reach a standard described by the descriptors below.
1–2 >> The reflection contains some discussion of what the investigation about the methods used by the historian. The reflection demonstrates little awareness of the challenges facing the historian and/or the limitations of the methods used by the historian. The connection between the reflection and the rest of the investigation is implied but is not explicit.
3–4 >> The reflection is clearly focused on what the investigation highlighted about the methods used by the historian. The reflection demonstrates a clear awareness of challenges facing the historian and/or limitations of the methods used by the historian. There is a clear and explicit connection between the reflection and the rest of the investigation.

Resources IBDP


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