How to Ace Your Global Politics IA

About the Author: Owain J.

This week’s blog post on the IB Global Politics IA is written by our fantastic tutor, Owain. He’s going to help you ace your Global Politics IA, of course, if you’re still stuck, don’t worry! We have experienced tutors ready and waiting to help you succeed with your Global Politics IA.


According to the IB, the Political Engagement Activity (PEA), or IA, provides students with “an opportunity to explore the central unifying theme of the course—people, power and politics—in practice and outside the classroom.” THEREFORE, the IA can be seen as an opportunity to have a meaningful experience of politics in the real world. The IA is also worth a significant chunk of your final grade. Thus, it can also help with your grade outside of a pressurized exam situation and it is important to take it seriously.

In this blog post I’ll be covering some of the main aspects of the IA;

  • What is it and why does it matter?
  • How do I get started and write my Global Politics IA?

What is the IA/PEA and why does it matter?

The IA is your opportunity to be an experiential learner; you will learn about an issue in global politics by participating and reflecting on your chosen political issue. This is an experience that is shaped by you and cannot be replicated in your classroom. As previously mentioned, a large amount of your grade depends on this; 25% of your grade if you are an SL student and 20% if you are an HL student.

The PEA is broken into three sections; the engagement, the complementary research and the written report, which should be no more than 2,000 words.

The Engagement section

The engagement is the bedrock of your IA. This is what allows you to explore, experience and reflect on a political issue. When selecting an engagement, it should help you learn about a political issue through your experience. Ideally, it should also be something you have a genuine interest in. Ultimately, when choosing your engagement, you need to answer yes to the following questions:

  • Does the engagement allow me to experience the dynamics of real-world politics and do so in a participatory way?
  • Do the political issues being focused on affect a community or a society in which I have some stake and experience?
  • Does the engagement involve contact with others who are also interested, or have a stake in, the political issue?

What is an engagement?

Here is one example of some engagements and the political issue that they align with:

Engagement Political Issue
Attendance at the full meeting of a city
council, followed by interviews with
two of its female councillors
How does the nature of democracy impact
upon representation of women in politics?
Campaigning with a city councillor in
support of a female candidate running
for the national parliament
Attendance at a conference to hear a
speech by a female member of
parliament opposed to quotas for
women in politics
Participation in a group discussion
with a female government minister


Complementary Research

In addition to your engagement, you must also do complementary research for your IA. This helps to give some background context for which your engagement took place. It also helps to make links to some of the course’s key concepts, theories, and ideas. The perspectives you gain through your engagement are partial and limited. Research is therefore required to establish which other perspectives on the political issue and organisation(s) with which you have been engaging are possible, as well as what the strengths and weaknesses of the various perspectives are. Ultimately, when doing this part of your IA, you should be asking yourself: what else do I need to know and understand to be able to write a good, evaluative analysis of my selected political issue?’

Written Report

This is what you actually submit to the IB for assessment. It is useful to formulate it into a question, that you will attempt to answer through your experiences and research. Your report must be no more than 2,000 words in length (but anything substantially below this is unlikely to meet the criteria for success). You should be careful that your report does not simply describe, at length, what you did during your engagement. Instead, the key aspect of the engagement in the report should be what it taught you about your selected political issue. You must synthesise your insights and evaluate the political issue from multiple perspectives. There is no specific structure required for the IA, but it must have a clear structure and be well-presented.

How do I start AND write my Global Politics IA?

Tips to be successful in your IA The first step is to consider what parts of the course you are most interested in. Gender equality? Human rights? Sustainable development? This will give you a start on finding a political issue linked to some of the key concepts, theories and ideas from the course.

Once you have some ideas, then you can start doing background research. Before you can start, you should be able to answer the following questions:

  • What is your proposed political issue?
  • Why are you interested in this issue?
  • What is your proposed research question?
  • How do you propose to engage with the political issue? Please provide a brief explanation.
  • What complementary research sources are available?
  • How does this link to the global politics course?
  • Does the engagement allow me to experience the dynamics of real-world politics and do so in a participatory way?
  • Do the political issues focused upon affect a community or a society in which I have some stake and experience?
  • Does the engagement involve contact with others who are also interested, or have a stake in, the political issue?

Other things to remember:

  • You must do more than just interviews. This is an experiential learning opportunity, and interviewing people relevant to your issue only addresses part of this. Successful IA’s do more than just interview, they take part in an engagement. Begin working on this in plenty of time. Organizations and individuals can be busy. Sometimes they can be difficult to get hold of. Getting started allows you to work on a plan B if your initial ideas do not come to fruition. As this blog was written during the midst of the Covid pandemic, this will potentially limit some of the engagements you can do. So plan, as you may need to be creative with your engagement.
  • Make sure you are using reputable sources during your IA. What does this mean? It means you are referring to articles, books, documentaries, reports. They come from universities, NGOs, IGOs and news organizations. They are staffed with professionals who have the academic and field experience to know what they are talking about.
  • Remember to always refer back to the same key idea; what did you learn about the political issue from your engagement? Less successful IA’s simply describe what the student did, rather than explaining how it helped understand a political issue.
  • Enjoy the experience! Remember that this is your opportunity to learn about global politics outside of the confines of the classroom, or virtual classes.

How do I Structure my IA?

Your opening paragraphs should set the scene about what you did and how it links to the course and should include the following:

  • Identify your political issue
  • Explain why this engagement and political issue are of interest to you ● Explain the link between the engagement and political issue on one hand and course content on the other hand
  • Make it clear what you did and why it is relevant for your chosen political issue.

Once you have outlined what you did, it is time to begin analyzing your political issue. The majority of your IA should be dedicated to doing the following:

  • Analyzing the political issue using key concepts and ideas from the course.
  • Merging your experiences with your research and what other people think about this issue
  • Explaining why your experiences helped you understand this issue
  • Looking at different opinions on the issue and explaining how accurate they are
  • Concluding the issue. What is your opinion and why have you come to it?


The Global Politics IA is your opportunity to learn about a political issue of your choosing out in the real world. It is also a chance to gain valuable points that contribute to your final grade. Avoid any common pitfalls by being organized, choosing a clear political issue and making sure you conduct a variety of engagements. This will enable you to further your passion for global politics and get an excellent grade, giving you two reasons to be happy!

With thanks to:

  • UWC Costa Rica
  • The IBDP Global Politics Guide


About the Author: Owain J.


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