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Working with the School of the Arts (SOTA), Singapore to introduce a new DP Literary Arts subject

The International Baccalaureate (IB) has collaborated with the School of the Arts (SOTA), Singapore to develop a new school-based syllabus (SBS) course – literary arts – which will be available for first teaching from January 2023 and first assessment in November 2024. The course will be part of the arts academic area within the Diploma Programme (DP) model. 

An SBS is a DP course that has been proposed and developed, in close collaboration with the IB, by an IB World School. An SBS provides an opportunity for a school to develop a course that is not otherwise offered by the IB and that meets the needs of their students.  

Literary arts is strongly supported by Singapore’s National Arts Council (NAC) and therefore the proposed literary arts SBS responds to significant local demand, within a school highly committed to promoting the arts. 

In this blog, Sabina Sorrentino, IB Curriculum Manager, Amy Khoo, Vice-Principal of Arts and Janet Liew, Head of Literary Arts at SOTA explain how and why the new literary arts course was developed. 

Amy Khoo: “SOTA is Singapore’s first national pre-tertiary specialised arts school with a six-year integrated arts and academic curriculum, leading to the IB Diploma or Career-related Programme, for youths aged 13-18 years old. 

SOTA was established in 2008 to provide a dedicated development path for those who have interest and show early talent in the arts, providing a learning environment where both the artistic and academic potential can best be realised. The school’s first cohort of IBDP students graduated in 2012, and the first cohort of IBCP students graduated in 2015. 

In 2016, SOTA introduced literary arts as a sixth art form at the school and enrolled the first cohort of literary arts students in 2016.  

As with students in dance, music, theatre and visual arts who have the opportunity to further and deepen their learning in the arts by taking the equivalent subject at DP or CP level, the school envisioned providing literary arts students with a similar pathway as their peers and submitted a letter of intent to the IB to discuss offering literary arts as an SBS subject.” 

Sabina Sorrentino: “IB and SOTA staff had the chance to meet in Singapore in 2019, but since then virtual meetings have been the space for our collaboration, despite the time zone difference. SOTA drafted the guide on the basis of their teaching practice of the subject and after that we engaged in a truly collaborative and creative process of review and refinement to get to the final version of the course in alignment with other arts DP arts courses.  

The expertise in teaching the subject that SOTA has shared with IB has been at the core of the new syllabus development and it has been very exciting to design a new DP course with educators so passionate to want to make their expertise accessible and relevant to students in completely different contexts.  

The literary arts course is different because it specifically focuses on creative writing.  

This was a gap in the IB offer as part of the arts within the Diploma programme. The IB theatre course is a multifaceted theatre-making course, where students learn to apply research and theory to inform and contextualize their practical and physical work. Literature and performance is an interdisciplinary synthesis of literature and theatre, a course in which students engage with a range of literary works and transform texts into realized performances. The literary arts SBS focus on the creative practice of writing and responds to the passion of students who want to develop their literary art-making, discovering and shaping their identities as writers. Students will have the opportunity to create in a range of traditional and emerging literary forms and discover writing techniques broadening their sense of possibility as they engage with the creation of texts to share with their readers. 

The course will allow students in IB World Schools to progress from MYP to DP choosing to study not only a literature or literature and language course but also a subject part of the arts academic field, where the creative writing practice is at the core of the learning experience.” 

Janet Liew: “By teaching the new literary arts subject, educators can expect opportunities to facilitate the growth of students into informed and reflective writers, communicators, collaborators and creative thinkers. Students should be empowered to become autonomous, informed, and skilled writers and content creators. 

Teachers will guide students towards exploring writing forms, styles, techniques, and processes, and creating diverse creative texts. They should actively and creatively design and organise rich learning experiences that invite students to engage with personal, local and global contexts, and create opportunities that allow the students to learn, discover, and collaborate. By teaching beyond what they are themselves familiar with and knowledgeable about, they can inspire their students by bringing in the unfamiliar and experimental.” 

The literary arts course will be added to the list of SBS courses that the IB already offers which include: 
  • Art history 
  • Astronomy 
  • Brazilian social studies 
  • Classical Greek and Roman studies 
  • Food science and technology 
  • Marine science 
  • Modern history of Kazakhstan 
  • Political thought (final assessment 2023) 
  • Turkey in the 20th century 
  • World arts and cultures 

Learn more about school-based syllabuses  


Sabina Sorrentino, IB Curriculum Manager
Sabina Sorrentino, IB Curriculum Manager
Amy Khoo, Vice-Principal of Arts at SOTA
Amy Khoo, Vice-Principal of Arts at SOTA
Janet Liew, Head of Literary Arts at SOTA
Janet Liew, Head of Literary Arts at SOTA