Secondary School

Welcome to the Secondary School

A very warm welcome to the Secondary School. In the Secondary School we take great pride in welcoming all students into our learning community and encourage students to strive to reach their potential. We hope to achieve this by providing a caring and nurturing environment where all students can be a unique and valued member of the school.


Against this secure backdrop, we encourage our students to work hard to achieve their academic potential. The International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme  (IBMYP; Grades 6-10) and the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP Grades 11-12) provides us with a curricular framework from which to build, our students’ knowledge, abilities and interests.

We aim for our students to embrace learning and understand that their time spent at Vienna International School is a part of their life long journey of learning.

We are also driven ensuring the holistic development of all our students. The School has an extensive extra-curricular programme that encompasses sports; music; mathematics competitions; Model United Nations; student publications and the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award (to name but a few).

We encourage all students to find something they are passionate about and get involved.

All our students participate in Service and Action projects. It is central to the values of VIS that every student should contribute to better the world. This includes projects that improve the lives of others, the environment and society as a whole. We aim to educate ethically driven, contributing members of our global community who are empowered to be positive drivers of change in the world.

We know that if the relationship between the home and the school is strong we can successfully work to support students in achieving personal success. We therefore engage parents as partners in the learning journeys of our students and expect that our parents will support the values of the school and its approach to learning, student success and well-being.

Warm Regards

Marc Starr

Secondary School Principal

The Vienna International School prides itself on a very strong and successful arts programme. From music to visual and performing arts, the students have the ability to immerse themselves in the genre that best suits their talent. With highly qualified and dedicated artists and musicians as teachers, the students are able to develop and hone their skills, which allows them express themselves as confident and competent artists. 

In Grades 6 to 8, Design is a main subject in the MYP that allows students to engage in solving problems in design contexts. The five strands we offer these learning opportunities are: product design, programming, graphic design, electronics and food design. The program assists students to develop skills in the areas of investigating problems, designing creative solutions, planning, creating and evaluating. Design is the link between innovation and creativity, allowing the learner to engage with shaping the real world. Design is human-centred and focuses on the needs, wants and limitations of the end user.

MYP design courses help specifically to prepare students for the study of computer science (CS), design technology (DT) and information technology in a global society (ITGS) in the Diploma Programme (DP).

The Physical Education department uses sports and activities as a tool to help every student to become responsible and guide each individual to achieve their own potential and reach success, in any aspect of society. Therefore, PE at VIS is geared to develop three domains: the psychomotor (physical development), cognitive (thinking, reflecting skills) and affective domain (emotions, feelings, attitudes, behaviour). We offer a range of sports and activities to provide students with a contemporary and holistic education. Moreover, all lessons are inquiry-based and are students centred.  We offer a range of sports and activities and teach them in clusters: Striking & fielding (e.g. Softball, cricket), Invasion games (e.g. Ultimate frisbee), Racket/net games (e.g. Badminton/volleyball), creative movement (dance, parkour), and Track & field.

Science is taught with a high level of hands-on practical work aimed at making the subjects both relevant and exciting. We have seven well-equipped laboratories that are fully able to manage the demands of practical science work. The Science Department also makes good use of the surrounding environment offering local excursions to museums and field trips to enhance the classroom experiences for students. In grades 6 – 10 we offer the IBO Middle Years Program following the modular science model. In grades 11-12 we offer the IBO Diploma program in Biology, Chemistry, Physics and the interdisciplinary science course “Environmental Systems and Societies”. Students participate in local and international science initiatives such as the “Science and Engineering Fair” organized by the UN IAEA.

Students are taught mathematics with an emphasis on discovering and applying knowledge and skills in real life contexts. In addition to textbooks, they learn using a wide variety of resources, including departmental sites subscriptions, manipulable materials and ICT tools. 

In G6-G10, our courses were designed to address all the topics included in the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme framework: Number, Algebra, Geometry and Trigonometry, Statistics and Probability, and Discrete mathematics. 

In G6-G8, students follow the same common course that leads naturally to the standard mathematics course in G9-G10. For those students who have demonstrated higher capability and results they have the opportunity to join the extended mathematics course in G9-G10. This course contains additional content and the standard level topics are explored at an higher level
of sophistication and abstraction. 

Students in G11-G12 study one of the following courses from the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme: Mathematics Analysis and Approaches and Applications and Interpretations at either standard or higher level. There is also the opportunity for students to undertake a high school mathematics course (non IB) such as Introduction to Statistics.


The Romance Language Department at VIS offers French and Spanish to all secondary students who are not enrolled in the ELA programme.

  • In Grade 6, the school only offers French and Spanish at the beginner level thus students with a previous knowledge of French will only have Spanish as an option, and vice versa.
  • In Grades 7 and 8, Spanish and French classes are available to beginners and to those with a basic knowledge of the language.
  • Students joining the school in Grades 9 or 10 should have studied French or Spanish for two to three years to be accepted in the Romance Language programme.

The student’s level of proficiency in the language will be assessed by the Romance Language Department before making the decision on a student’s placement in the programme.

Please note, the school does not offer French or Spanish courses for mother tongue speakers or highly advanced speakers of the language (above Phase 4 in the MYP programme) within the regular timetable. Mother Tongue classes in French and Spanish are available at our school and are taught outside school hours.

Our curriculum aims to construct learning around relevant and authentic situations and develops the following skills: listening, reading, speaking, and writing. From G6-G10, we work under the MYP framework, which aims to instil a respect for, and understanding of, other languages and cultures. In G11 and G12, we follow the curriculum of the DP programme (at both Standard and High Level), based around five themes: identities, experiences, human ingenuity, social organization and sharing the planet. G11 language students go to either Madrid or Paris for a week in April, organized by the school to experience their learning in real life context and to expand their cultural understanding of the language.

As the language of the host country, German is taught to all secondary students at VIS. We offer courses at all achievement levels in each grade. Our teachers are all native speakers who teach with enthusiasm and passion. Excursions and field trips add to the authentic approach of the teaching and expand the cultural experience of learning German. 

The English curriculum is an exciting and entertaining experience for young people with an aim to expose students to a range of language and literature and to engender a love of writing and highly developed writing skills. In keeping with the IB Middle Years Programme, students experience thematic units based on open-ended questions in which they encounter texts from around the world both ancient and modern. Assessment is continuous and balanced, incorporating tasks written and oral, analytical and creative, formative and summative; all designed to prepare students for success in the IB Diploma Programme. 

VIS was a pioneer amongst international schools in recognizing the importance of additive bilingualism - that is, the continuing development of our students' home languages while at the same time learning the school language of English. A large number of research studies show very clearly that bilingualism can increase children’s language abilities and help their progress in school.

Both the Primary and Secondary schools at VIS are truly international in that the majority of our students speak a language other than English as their first language.

Grade 11 and Grade 12 students have the possibility to take their Mother Tongue as one of their International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma subjects. Approximately 30% of all IB Diploma level students each year take this option. Please contact the IB office or the IB DP Mother Tongue Coordinator for further information: dpmothertongue(at)


"Language is the medium in which teaching and learning take place in schools; the medium through which we transform and develop our thinking about concepts; and in this way language and content are inextricably linked" (Halliday, 1993)

The Language Acquisition programme has been designed to meet the needs of students who have English as a second or additional language. Our goal is to develop English language skills, which allow children to be successful in their academic work as well as in everyday communication. We have adopted the IB language continuum which is organised into phases.

The Secondary School delivers the Language Acquisition programme as a discrete curricular programme. Students taking English Language Acquisition can be placed either in MYP Phase 2/3 or in MYP Phase 4. 

Students in the IB MYP Language Acquisition Phases 2 and 3 take Language Acquisition classes in place of English, Romance Languages, and to begin with, Science and Humanities. Students in Phase 4 take Language Acquisition classes in place of English and Romance Languages.

Once a student has achieved the learning outcomes for MYP Language B Phase 2/3, he/she is moved into Phase 4 and students are moved from there to the mainstream English Language and Literature course.

Students applying to the school in Grade 10 must have at least the equivalence of MYP Phase 4 English language proficiency in order to be accepted into Grade 10 and above.

Occasionally, students moving from Grade 9 to Grade 10 have not yet reached Phase 4. In this case, students will enter Grade 10, but remain in Phase 2/3 until they meet the learning outcomes. Alternatively, they could, depending on their age, remain in Grade 9 for another year to give them more time to improve their proficiency.

Diploma students have the option of taking the English Language B course at both Higher and Standard levels.


Individuals and Societies 

Individuals and Societies at VIS incorporates a wide range of Humanities disciplines starting from integrated inquiry-based Humanities courses in Grades 6 to 8, and then transitioning through to more in depth discrete History and Geography semester courses in Grades 9 to 10, taught by specialist teachers.  The Grades 6 - 10 courses follow the IB MYP curriculum framework and are designed to equip students with the necessary knowledge and skills to inquire into the historical, contemporary, geographical, economic, and cultural factors which shape our societies and our environment. The courses are designed to train students to become critical thinkers about topical issues on global and local scales, thus enabling them to be informed future global citizens and decision makers. The department supports experiential learning and organises different fieldwork investigations and outdoor learning excursions in both local and international environments. 

The Grade 6 - 8 Individual and Societies Course is an integrated year long course focusing on a range of topics including: How Maps help us explore Time, Place and Space, Early Humans, Ancient Civilisations, Settlements, our Community in a Global World, the Middle East: Past and Present, Life in the Middle Ages, Innovation and the Renaissance, How Globalisation shapes our Community,  Global Development, Global Organisations - The United Nations, Equal Rights Movements, Climate Change. The focus is on building research,  communication and critical thinking skills which can be applied to all Individual and Societies courses later on. In Grade 9 and 10 each student follows a semester course in both History and Geography each year. Some of the topics investigated include: Revolutions, Global Migrations, 20th Century Turmoil and Globalisation.

In Grades 11 and 12, the Group 3 Diploma Programme choices include, History, Geography, Psychology and Economics - all offered at either Standard or  Higher Level. There are no prerequisite entrance requirements for any of these courses. 


DP Economics uses scientific methodologies which include quantitative and qualitative elements. The course emphasizes the economic theories of microeconomics, which deal with economic variables affecting individuals, firms and markets, and the economic theories of macroeconomics, which deal with economic variables affecting countries, governments, and societies. These economic theories are to be applied to real-world issues.

DP History is focussed on Modern European History and is based on a comparative, multi-perspective approach to history focused on the key historical concepts of change, causation and significance. The topics studied include: the causes of the Second World War, and single party rulers including Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Mussolini.

The aim of the DP Geography course is to empower students to understand the world around them by exploring physical, human and political Geography with a strong focus on current environmental, developmental and political (globalisation) issues.

In DP Psychology, students study the “core” of biological, cognitive, and sociocultural psychology. Students can expect to develop an understanding of how psychological knowledge is generated, developed and applied. This will allow them to have a greater understanding of themselves and appreciate the diversity of human behaviour.

Matura Equivalency

The International Baccalaureat Diploma Programme examination is accepted for entrance to all Austrian Universities/Fachhochschulen (§64 Abs. 1 Z.7. Universitätsgesetz, BGBl. Nr. 131/2015).  Please note that the IBDP examination, by agreement with and validated through Nostrifikation by the Ministry of Education, is an international and not a national school leaving certificate. Therefore Matura equivalency is not automatically transferable to other countries as “Austrian Matura”.

Students qualify for Matura equivalence based upon their final, externally marked, International Baccalaureate assessment grades, and internal VIS assessment grades (3 higher level and 3 standard level, with no assessment grade below 3, and with a total of at least 24 points).

In addition, in G9-G10 students must successfully complete:

  • all subjects taught in the VIS curriculum (including 3 separate sciences) receiving G3 or above in each on their end of year school reports
  • a third language taught as part of the VIS curriculum for at least four years, up to and including G10, with level two objectives being reached, (including success in external exams, or an International Baccalaureate certificate in the third language)

In G11-G12 students must study:

  • Austrian history and Austrian geography.
  • German (B, HL), English, Mathematics and one experimental science from biology, chemistry or physics.

IB Diploma Options

In Grades 11 and 12 the school offers the International Baccalaureate Programmes. These are rigorous pre-university courses of study, leading to external examinations and meeting the needs of students between the ages of 16 and 19.

The IB Programmes are designed to promote international understanding and facilitate the mobility of students to a wide variety of institutions by offering a rigorous, holistic approach to learning.

VIS offers students the opportunity to study two different diploma or graduation routes simultaneously: the VIS Diploma (with possible IB Courses) and the IB Diploma.

These two options can be taken with or without Austrian Matura Equivalence

VIS High School Diploma

The VIS High School Diploma is an accredited leaving certificate that is recognised by a number of universities and organisations throughout the world.

Students earn a VIS Diploma by fulfilling course credits during Grades 9-12, which are earned through internal examinations and coursework in VIS courses.

For university entry, the VIS Diploma is recognised in a number of US and private universities, though on its own does not open access to national universities across Europe, including UCAS.  Please see the University page for more information.

For course selection, students have great flexibility and may build a programme of study with any mix of HL and SL courses. English and Maths must be taken in both Grades 11 and 12, and CAS completion is a requirement.

Students may complete IB Course credit for individual courses while pursuing the VIS Diploma, and these may be used towards university admission or credit in some cases.

IB Diploma

The IB Diploma is an accredited leaving certificate that is recognised almost universally at universities and organisations throughout the world.

Students earn an IB Diploma by achieving points for their courses, gained through a combination of internal coursework and rigorous examinations at the end of Grade 12.

For university entry, the IB Diploma is recognised throughout the world. Certain systems, universities, and programmes of study at university require certain IB subjects or levels for entry.  Please see the University page for more information.

For course selection, students select 3 HL subjects and 3 SL subjects, in addition to completing the three elements of the IB Core. Subjects must be selected in a set order from the different IB Diploma subject group.

What Programme is right for me?

Students should take time to consider, after reflecting on strengths and interests and careful research of university entry requirements, which Diploma option is best for them.

Pursuing these Diplomas can be done in the following combinations:

  1. IB Diploma AND VIS Diploma: as these Diplomas are based on the same courses, students successfully pursuing the IB Diploma will in most cases also earn the VIS Diploma.  Students pursuing this option should
    • have past academic results and approvals which indicate that s/he would be capable of earning the IB Diploma
    • need the IB Diploma for university entry (in systems such as UCAS)
  2. VIS Diploma ONLY: this option allows for greater flexibility in the selection of subjects in Grade 11 and 12. Students may select up to 6 individual courses without the requirements of 3 HL and 3 SL courses. Students may also sit individual course examinations with the IB for "Course" credit, which may be redeemed or used for entry at some universities. Students pursuing this option would
    • have past academic results and approvals which indicate that s/he would find the IB Diploma too challenging
    • need only a VIS Diploma or IB Courses for university entry

Credit Requirements

To earn a VIS High School Diploma, a student must earn a minimum of 25 credits over the final four years of High School education (including all schools attended from Grades 9 to 12). 

One credit equals one year passing in a subject.

The chart displayed below* shows the breakdown of the number of credits required in each subject area.

Earning Credits

In order to earn credits, a student must successfully complete a course of study by

  • Having an attendance record of at least 80%
  • Achieving an end of course passing grade of 3 or above in all courses in Grades 9 to 12.

Important note: Students must take English in every year from Grade 9 to 12 and obtain a minimum school-based assessment grade of a 3.

Further information

Grades 9 and 10

  • In a school year, a student achieves one credit for successfully completing each one-year course in the following subject areas:  Mathematics, English, Language, Physical Education, Design and Arts.
  • In a school year, a student achieves a half-credit for successfully completing semester courses in the following subject areas: Humanities (History and Geography) and Sciences (Physics, Chemistry and Biology).

Grades 11 and 12

  • In a school year, a student achieves one credit for successfully completing a Standard Level (SL) course.
  • In a school year, a student achieves one and one-half credits for successfully completing each Higher Level (HL).
  • A student will achieve one credit for completing the school’s CAS (Creativity, Activity, Service) requirement.

IB Courses

Students not pursuing the IB Diploma may choose to pursue "Course" credit for individual courses they are taking at VIS. This Course credit - represented as a score of 1-7 in subjects and A-E in TOK or the EE - may be earned in addition to the VIS Diploma and may augment university application portfolios.