IB Computer Science 1: First-day handout (2017 exam)

Letter to parents and students


Hello! My name is Justin Robertson and I am the teacher of IB Computer Science here at the International School of Manila. I graduated from the University of London with a Master’s degree in Computer Science and worked as a software developer for ten years before entering the teaching profession in 2004. My last position was as Head of IT at the British International School of Istanbul, and prior to that I was Head of IT at The Hall School in London.

In this brief letter I’ve tried to provide a flavour of what to expect from the next year but if you have any questions, at any time, please drop me an email at robertsonj@ismanila.org.

Course Structure

The structure of the course is as follows:

  1. Systems Fundamentals
  2. Computer Organization
  3. Networks
  4. Computational Thinking, Problem-solving and Programming
  5. Abstract data structures (HL)
  6. Resource Management (HL)
  7. Control (HL)
  • Option D: Object-oriented programming in Java

There is also an Internal Assessment (IA), which is worth 30% for SL students and 20% for HL students, and for HL students only there is an examined Case Study element. In the first year of the course we cover topics 2-7. The second year of the course deals with topic 1, the IA, the case study and exam practice.


  • Students who sit back and expect to be spoon-fed will not fare well in my class! This course is demanding and to be successful students will need to adopt a serious attitude to their work. I don’t intend to overload students with homework but accordingly they must make the very best use of their time in class.
  • Students are accountable for their own learning. The course guide will be made available to everyone, and students must take the time to get to know exactly what the requirements of the course are. This is particularly important with respect to the Internal Assessment.
  • Finally, students are expected to participate fully in class activities. We will use a wide range of teaching and learning strategies in this course, many of which will involve self-directed, collaborative teamwork. It is important that students are prepared to provide input to these activities.


  • None required. Every lesson will take place in the school computer rooms, so laptops are not required. In addition, all required software is pre-installed on school machines and the file server is backed up and available online


From day one in this course, I will follow the assessment objectives set out by the IB Organization. In line with my expectation that students take charge of their own learning, I believe in total transparency of assessment requirements. Students will take periodic tests and quizzes that could cover any topic that has been covered so far. In IB1, there will be an end-of-year examination that will be worth 20% of the second semester grade. In IB2 there will be a mock exam in the months before the final IB exam.


  • By far the most important resource will be “the guide”. This is an IB document providing full details of every aspect of the course. We will refer to it frequently and students will be expected to become very familiar with its contents.
  • We will use the course blog, available through ISM-Online, to develop supplementary content.
  • The web is of course now a huge resource for any academic study, especially in the area of computing. The right-hand sidebar of my blog contains numerous useful links for the IB Computer Science student.

I hope that has provided at least an overall idea of the content of the IB Computer Science course. If you have any questions or comments, please email me at robertsonj@ismanila.org.

Justin Robertson
Computer Science
International School Manila

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