Enhancement Option – Extended Project Qualification EPQ
MINIMUM REQUIRMENTS: None
SUBJECT LEADER: Mr E A Shortland
EXAMINATION BOARD: AQA
COURSEWORK: 100% (with assessed presentation)
What is the Extended Project?
The Extended Project is best understood as a mini dissertation – students identify a topic, set their own question, carry out a piece of academic research and finally produce an extended piece of writing (c. 5000 words) on their chosen subject. Alternatively, they can produce an artefact accompanied by a shorter essay (c. 2000 words)
This opportunity will prepare you for study at the top universities as well as providing an exciting chance to escape from the standard routine of A-Level study. It will enable you to focus, in depth, on a subject or subjects that you enjoy and wish to study to a higher level. It carries UCAS points (it counts as 60% of an A-Level) and is graded with students able to achieve up to an A* qualification. It will strengthen your personal study skills and help you to develop greater independence in your learning.
What is involved?
In total you will be expected to spend approximately 120 guided learner hours producing your EPQ.
Between 25-30 hours will be “directed time”. This is either made up of “taught lessons” at the start of the process or in the form of 5-6 meetings with your supervisor over the course. These meetings will allow the supervisor to check your progress as well as giving you advice on where to go next.
Once you have identified your topic and question, the centre co-ordinator comments on your project proposal – this must be approved before you continue your research.
You must record the process in a formal project log which is submitted alongside your final essay.
At the end of the project, learners are required to give a live presentation, which must include a Q&A session.
All work is assessed by the centre but is moderated by the chosen exam board.
The taught element
In order to study for the Extended Project Qualification we also need to study Critical Thinking.
Critical Thinking is a skill that involves understanding and evaluating reasoning. “Reasoning” is often defined as “the act or process of drawing conclusions from facts, evidence, etc.” In Critical Thinking, the word “critical” is used to mean assessing strengths as well as weaknesses, rather than “being critical” in the everyday sense.
This may sound remote from everyday life. In reality, we are reasoning every time we think about why, whether and how to do something, or whether to believe what someone is telling us. You may feel that your previous study along with your own abilities already enable you to think critically without you needing to study it further. However, practising Critical Thinking skills is like preparing for a sports event or training as a musician: however strong your natural ability, the right practice will enable you to perform better.
Studying Critical Thinking will enable you to:
- Understand and analyse what other people say and write
- Decide whether other people’s reasoning is strong or weak
- Assert your own point of view and argue convincingly
This will help in your studies and your life to:
- Evaluate the evidence and arguments that you read (crucial for your EPQ)
- Make rational decisions
- Give reasons for your own beliefs and actions
- Plan your research by thinking – “what else do I need to know to justify my conclusions?”
Write logical, structured essays
In addition to critical thinking, you will also have the chance to attend sessions on research skills, giving a presentation, footnoting and referencing and avoiding plagiarism – all vital if you are to proceed to higher education.
A few of the topics that have been chosen for the Extended Project by students at TBSHS include String Theory, The Black Hole Paradox, the English Reformation, Censorship, The Rwandan Genocide, The Causes of the 2008 Economic Crash, The Fall of the Roman Republic, The 2012 Olympics, Epigenetics, Asperger’s Syndrome, Space Travel and many many more.