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: Mathematical Studies at standard level, Mathematics at either standard or higher level. There is also the opportunity for students to undertake the Further Mathematics course at higher level.


The Romance Language Department at VIS offers French and Spanish to all secondary students provided that they are not enrolled in the ELA program. Starting in G6, G7 or G8, students not in the ELA program have the opportunity to take French or Spanish as beginners. From G9 onwards, students may only take French or Spanish lessons provided they have completed foundational classes.

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 program (at both Standard and High Level), based around five themes: identities, experiences, human ingenuity, social organization and sharing the planet.

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.