IB History IA: This ULTIMATE Guide Will Get You A 7

IB History IA Can Be Hard - We Kick Things Off With A Quick Overview Of The IB History IA & Wrap Things Up With Some Juicy Sample IB History IAs!! -- READ IT TILL THE END

Adya Sharma
29 AUG 2021
ib history ia

​​​​​​​Being an exploratory subject, History has often worried IB students because it covers everything from World History to Depth studies as a part of the IB Diploma Programme course.


IB History IA is a whole different world of historical investigation that students generally struggle with!


The IB has introduced the IB History IA to help students inquire and get somewhat hands-on experience exploring the world we live in, especially in the context of our past. Through the History IA investigation, IB expects students to develop the skills of analytical inquiry and achieve the goal of the IB DP History course. 


But that doesn’t solve the trouble, does it? 


Starting with one’s IB History IA is one hurdle; completing it successfully is another!


Understanding the various facets of this investigation, doing the relevant research, and assembling the findings in an organized manner only to reflect on one’s work, takes more than just articulate planning.


What you need is a comprehensive guide to help you select, strategize, investigate and execute in the easiest way possible. 


Worry not! 


You are at the right place because this article covers everything from IB IA History rubrics to some select topics to get you going on your journey.


We present to you the ultimate IB History IA guide that will help you score a perfect 7!


Before we start, you should check out ​​​​​​​the premium IB History HL Notes offered by Nail IB that cover not only past years’ papers but also curated guides on how to nail your Extended Essays and Internal Assessments. There is no way you should miss out on this premium content!


Also, we have several sample IB History IAs that will add value to your work and help you nail your investigation. Do check them out on the go!


But before delving deeper, let’s go through the contents of this article and help you get a clear idea of what this guide offers you:​​​​​​​

  1. What The Hell Is IB History IA?
  2. History IA Rubric & Pointers
  3. Finalizing Your IB History IA Topic
  4. Steps for Effective Research
  5. Different Components Of The History IA
  6. Identification & Analysis Of Sources
  7. Investigation
  8. Reflection
  9. Sample IB History IA topics


What The Hell Is IB History IA?


The IB defines History as a dynamic subject that helps engage with the past strongly. It revolves around historical events of significance and encourages learning about their causation and the changes these events affected. IB History Diploma Programme presents history in terms of the following aspects - 

  • Political
  • Economic
  • Social ​​​​​​​
  • Cultural


To get more clarity on the purpose and aim of the discipline, you might want to go through this information provided about the IB DP History Course by the International Baccalaureate itself. 


The IB History course aims to enhance students’ historical skills and develop a sense of international-mindedness. Through the History IA, IB expects you to critically explore the past with the skills you have learned.  


A historical investigation on a topic of interest needs to be done by both HL and SL students.


While the IA makes for 25% of the final IB score of History SL, the weightage is 20% for History HL


A few of the advantages of this historical investigation are -

  • Helps interpret and understand historical documents and resources

  • Helps get a better understanding of the world around us and is of great benefit for students looking forward to taking History or related fields up at university.


Now that we know what the IB History IA is for HL and SL let’s list the key pointers you should know before you embark on this historic journey. Let’s look at these essential points, shall we?


History IA Rubric & Pointers


Before immersing yourself in the exploration, it is essential to understand how the structure of the IA works. Some important protocols that you can’t afford to miss are given below. 

  1. The topic you choose for your investigation should not be an event of the last decade; it should be a historical event.
  2. The topic needn’t be something you have learned or studied about at school.
  3. The word limit of 2200 words must be followed.
  4. You must discuss the topic you choose with your teacher for guidance and approval.  
  5. Make sure you regularly update your teacher on the drafts of your work.
  6. The investigation should not be performed in a group; it is an individual task.
  7. Make sure there are enough sources relevant to the investigation. 
  8. Ethical considerations need to be taken into account during the entire process. Your instructor/teacher will brief you more on this.
  9. Finally, the work you turn in should follow the academic honesty guidelines laid down by the IB
  10. Your submitted IA will be assessed by your teacher and moderated by the IB.


The next important question is: What topic to choose? Settling on a topic can be an almost endless process, so the next section should be your next station on this journey. 


Finalizing Your IB History IA Topic


The struggle to land on an IA topic that genuinely interests you is real. 

But we have compiled a list of points that you can refer to make the right decision.


  1. Go for a topic that interests you. No use picking up something from the charming contemporary world (WWI or WWII) if it doesn’t get you excited. 

  2. Don’t be vague. Your research question needs to be as specific as possible.

  3. You can also choose a topic that is personal to your country, community, or region. This will help you find quality sources and produce a remarkable IA.


Needless to say, get the approval for your research question from your instructor/teacher. 


A few sample research questions given by the IB in its guide are as follows:

  • How significant were economic problems as a cause of the Bamberg Witch Trials (1623–1633)?

  • What were the most important reasons for the failure of Operation Market Garden?


Once you pick a research question, the research you conduct for your investigation plays the most important role while kickstarting your exploration. The following section discusses the research that goes into producing a relevant and informative IA.


Steps for Effective Research


Let’s talk business. 


No matter how great a topic you select, the investigation you perform will be a big disappointment if your research isn’t up to the mark! 


What’s important to note is that no matter what sources you pick, credibility is the key. The easiest way to conduct your research is online, no doubt. But if your think Wikipedia is going to answer all the questions you have, don’t. 


While online sources can be providing you with valuable information, never scrape off the little content you get right off the bat.




This is precisely where Google Scholar will come in handy. Triple check the details you collect. Always, always cite the original source.


Not to mention, books, journals, and academic papers are the numero uno for the research. Try looking up important work done by historians and authors in your nearest library. That is set to give a brilliant direction to your process.


This is certainly not the end of it. Visit museums, universities, and several other sites of importance, because the information you will get here is exactly what needs to go into your IA.


We have a pretty good idea of how the first few steps of making the History IA look. We now need to focus on documentation because the work you produce will reflect all your hard work. Without further ado, let’s go!


Different Components Of The History IA


The IB DP History IA allows all the students to showcase their skills and knowledge as a historian. Right from selecting and analyzing resources to critically reflecting on one’s work by taking into account several viewpoints, the History IA is the perfect measure of a student’s inquiry skills. There is a lot that goes into assembling and displaying the work in an organized manner. 


All in all, the purpose of the History IA is to help students search, select, evaluate and present a viewpoint that is in accordance with the sources and the arguments made. 


But before we start talking about the components of the IA, you should read the IB History IA guide provided by the IB itself. You will learn about the significance of what you’re doing and how you are supposed to be doing it.


Identification & Analysis Of Sources


The first section of the IA expects you to analyze two sources (primary or secondary) that you have used elaborately. 


Other things to be kept in mind - ​​​​​​​

  1. State the question you have chosen clearly. Do not be vague. It should be stated as a question.
  2. You need to mention the relevance of the sources you have picked to analyze. Why were these sources important to your findings or conclusion? What do they offer? Do they give you more clarity in detail or a fresh perspective?
  3. ​​​​​​​Thoroughly analyze the two sources. Analyze and discuss the value and limitations of these sources. 
  4. This analysis must be done in the context of the origins (when and by whom), the purpose (why), and the content (what).


The word limit should be 500 for this section. 




Section 2 of your IA, the Investigation, is a tougher nut to crack but not impossible, of course. Just be mindful of certain important points, and you’ll be good to go. Your Investigation should be nearly 1300 words and should aim at answering the question of your IA. 


Since this is the actual investigation, it should have a proper structure.​​​​​​​

  • Introduction
    • The first two paragraphs of your investigation should give a brief overview of the topic. This is where you interest the reader/examiner. Why is the question you chose relevant or important?​​​​​​​
  • Critical Analysis
    • The evidence used by you (as a reference, you may use 2 primary and 3 secondary sources) should be analyzed in different contexts. Try giving an informative counterargument if needed. All the sources should be discussed. This is also where you can bring in diverse perspectives and address them each in separate paragraphs. ​​​​​​​
  • Conclusion
    • The last paragraph should be a final concluding statement that summarises the investigation and analysis. Keep it short and precise.




This section deals with you reflecting on the methods used and the challenges faced by you during the investigation. The word count for this section must be 400. 


Sample discussion questions given by the IB for this section are -

  • 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?


🔥🔥🔥🔥 SUPER TIP - Sections 1 and 3 of your IA will fetch you marks in the easiest way possible. Make sure you nail these 🔥🔥🔥🔥 


The Bibliography and citing of original works must be done towards the end of the investigation. ​​​​​​​

Sample IB History IA topics


We at Nail IB have curated some sample IB DP History IAs for your benefit. Make sure you check these out to get a good idea to go about yours. 


Another important aspect of the IA is the assessment criteria. It is very important to know what the examiner is looking for in your work. Go through the assessment criteria given in the IB History guide before you compile your work.


And that’s a wrap!


We hope this guide will help you understand IB’s expectations from your IA and how you can easily seize that 7 by keeping the important things in mind. To get a better grip on IB History, check out our premium notes and get closer to nailing your History exam.


Want some A-quality guidance for all things IB? Start your Nail IB journey today, and thank us later!​​​​​​​

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