Theory of Knowledge  : Presentation


Nine tips on good TOK presentations

by Linda on 19 Aug 2004 07:05 pm

These tips were written by Nick Alchin, a ToK and mathematics teacher at Sevenoaks School, Sevenoaks, Kent, UK. He has also written an excellent ToK text book for IB students and a teacher's book.

There is no general method or formula which is "correct." You can probably ignore some of this advice and still do a good presentation… but following these suggestions may help.

1. Familiarize yourself with the assessment criteria. Notice, for example that whatever your topic, the focus must be on knowledge issues and that you should choose a contemporary issue (or at least one that is contemporary to you: a historical event that you're studying in History class qualifies).

2. Choose a concrete topic that interests you and find the TOK in it. TOK can be found almost anywhere, so use the opportunity to do something that you will enjoy doing. Do not just choose, say, the death penalty just because you have a book on it. Your presentation will come across much better if you choose something which means something to you personally: your own school, recent events in the news, cartoons, books and films are often fertile ground for presentation topics. Some of the most effective presentations start with an everyday story and go on to draw out the TOK aspects.

3. You should be exploring an issue; this means that you should present different points of view, even if they contradict each other and even if you disagree with them. You can try to reconcile different points of view or explain precisely why they are incompatible. You do not have to choose one point of view as "correct," but you should avoid the rather vacuous "so there are different points of view all of which are equally valid" approach. Do not be afraid to give your own opinion; you can point out that there are problems with your opinion, but be honest and say what you really think!

4. Try to cover the facts quickly and get on to the abstract TOK principles. If you have chosen a topic where there are important facts that the audience needs to know, then you should get through these quickly--there are no marks for dissemination of information! The focus of the presentation must be analysis, not description. If you can't summarize the facts in a couple of minutes then you should distribute to the audience a summary to be read beforehand.

5. Once you have drawn out the abstract TOK principles you should try to see what the implications of these principles are, and perhaps use these implications to reflect on the validity of the principles. For example, if you are considering the argument for the death penalty that states that murderers lose the right to life, the underlying principle seems to be "an eye for an eye." But what if you were to ask, "What do we do with a thief? Or a rapist? Or a kidnapper?" a different underlying principle might have to be used, possibly leading to a reformulation of the original principle.

6. Consider carefully how you communicate the structure of your presentation. The structure may be clear in your mind, but the audience may not find it so easy to follow. Having one or two overheads with the main points in bullet form (using a large font for clarity) can keep both you and your audience on track.

7. Try to state explicitly the problems of knowledge that you are looking at. This will help you retain clarity and make it easier for an examiner to give you high marks in criterion A (Knowledge Issues). If you use an overhead, list the problems there.

8. If appropriate use a film clip, slides, photos, newspaper cutting or any other prop. Your presentation will probably be far more interesting if you can use something other than your voice! But make sure that the props serve a specific purpose, and that they don't replace the analysis that will earn you high marks in criterion B (Quality of Analysis).

9. In your conclusion try to summarize (briefly--only a few sentences) what you have said, and try to end with a forward-looking view. This might be a summary of the main principles you have identified or some issues which have arisen and which have not been answered. Do not just reiterate your arguments. The end should "feel" like a conclusion and not like "well, that's it."


Location: Warwick Uni

by kildare on 19 Aug 2004 08:55 pm

Valence > Alchin


Location: Geneva/Ireland/Oxford

by Linda on 25 Aug 2004 12:53 am

Latkowski > Valence


Location: Warwick Uni


Choosing a topic

by Linda on 06 Aug 2004 04:14 am

Personally I had a lot of fun doing the ToK presentation. I spent a lot of time researching and made a PowerPoint presentation (got 19 out of 20 points!) The key is to find a topic you like, as long as it is CONTEMPORARY. Jonatan lost some points on an otherwise truly excellent presentation because his ToK teacher didn't think it was contemporary enough.

My presentation was called “Neuroscience and the Consciousness Conundrum” and dealt with modern science’s contribution to philosophy of mind and the mind-body problem.

Ethics seems to be the most popular choice among students, and there are so many topics you could do. Hot debates in Norway (and many other countries) right now are whether gay people should be allowed to marry and/or adopt children and if it is ok to genetically modify food/eat GM food. One of my personal favourite topics in ethics is a bit “out there” and concerns whether it is morally right to terrraform Mars. The possibilities are infinite! (think about that)

Further reading:

Be sure to check your local library if they have a copy of Stephen Law’s “The Philosophy Gym – 25 short adventures in thinking”.

Philosophy online:

ToK links:

Want to submit your presentation topic? PM me.


Location: Warwick Uni


TOK presentation about history....I need your help

by Ana on 03 Mar 2006 07:14 pm


I'm in 11th, first year of IB.

I have to do a TOK presentation next week... just for a practice.

The question which I chose is 'Why is history important?'

If you have any idea, give me advise plz.

Thank you


by marie on 08 Apr 2006 02:34 pm

Ana wrote:

Hello. I'm in 11th, first year of IB.

I have to do a TOK presentation next week... just for a practice.

The question which I chose is 'Why is history important?'

If you have any idea, give me advise plz.

Thank you

Hey Ana,

I did my topic on 'Does history tell us the truth?'

If you have any specific questions on your presentation I'll be glad to help.


Location: Cambridge, UK


Help... what is emotion?

by sammy on 18 Jan 2006 12:31 am

well... I don't ask for answer of that question. I just need some short explanations about that for my basic knowledge, because for me by having the basic knowledge about emotion. I can expand it... So please help me... T_T. Thank you for you all


Location: Jakarta, Indonesia

by zurask on 23 Feb 2006 11:38 am

Go to and search for TOK and then it will give you links to a page about Emotion. Should tell you all you need.


Can it be true that physics is the only true science?

by sammy on 10 Nov 2005 10:21 pm

My head is going to blow, every time I think about this question. Well I choose this question, because I take Physics for my fourth group. So I think maybe Physics lessons cab help me to answer this question. But I was wrong, now I don't know what I need to prepare for my presentation. I'm lack of theory.

So please for all of you. Please help me ... Please give me some inspirations or basic theory for my presentation later...

Thank you very much, for your attention and help. I really appreciate it, JBU...


Location: Jakarta, Indonesia

Tok presentation...need help

by azndawg on 23 Feb 2005 12:20 pm

Hey I am in my last year of IB and i have to do a TOK presentation. Now my presentation is based on the question:

"Can purposely misleading the public be justified as it sometimes occurs in politics or advertising? Consider ares of knowledge such as science, arts and history."

THe problem i have is that, i do not know how to approch this question. Like should i just give examples for 10 minutes where the public was mislead intentionally, and explain if it was justified or not? is that all i have to do? Its been really buggin my mind. Oh yes, if you know any examples that would be great. THank you