A Level Extended Project Qualification

 

What is it?

The Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) enables you to develop your interests outside of your main subjects of study. In conjunction with your supervisor, you choose a topic and a format for the project. The format can be a research-based essay (of between 4-5,000 words), a creative piece (such as a short play or short story), an artefact (such as a model) or a presentation (such as a portfolio of photographs or a performance). The most popular option is the essay. As an indication of the range of possibilities, titles have included “What are numbers?”, “What was the cause of the Rwandan genocide?”, “Why do people join cults?” and “How does early Victorian literature portray female insanity and how accurate is the representation of ‘mad women’?”

The distinctive and valuable feature of the EPQ is that you research and develop your project largely by yourself. Your supervisor will guide you and give you feedback on your project along the way but they will not teach you. You will typically not meet them more than once a fortnight. The EPQ is designed to help you develop the independent study skills you will need at university and beyond.

Whilst the content of the project will be directed by you, you will receive tuition on how to research and develop your project. For example, you will learn about how to use the internet efficiently, how to compile footnotes and a bibliography, how to avoid plagiarism and how to manage your time properly.

After agreeing a title on the basis of some preliminary research, you will work on your project and receive tuition into research skills over a period of two terms. You will be required to keep a diary of your progress and to fill out a production log on the way. Once your project has been submitted, you will give a short (10 minute) presentation introducing your project and summarising your reflections on the challenges you faced and the skills you have developed as an independent researcher.

The EPQ is a special Level 3 qualification that is neither an A level nor an AS level. It is worth 50% of an A level in terms of UCAS points.

Why study it and what skills does it develop?

An ever-growing number of universities are becoming aware of the attractions of the EPQ. It is an excellent way of developing a broad range of study skills that you will find invaluable at university, where you will increasingly be required to be an independent learner, and in the world of work beyond. It adds particular value to applications to Russell Group universities. This is especially so for Oxbridge applications, as it may become a discussion point in an interview. You will learn how to manage your time, how to prepare a professional-looking project and how not to get lost in the vast amounts of material in libraries and on the internet when undertaking research.

What prior knowledge and skills are required?

No prior knowledge is required. The most important skill you will need to have is self-motivation. This is a project you will be mainly managing yourself. Although your supervisor will provide an over-arching structure, you will need to set and keep to your own deadlines!

How is the course assessed?

The EPQ is internally assessed and externally moderated. Your project is assessed on the basis of four criteria. The first is how well you managed your project. The second is the extent of the resources you used and how well you used them. The third is quality of the final outcome, this being the final version of your essay, for example. The fourth is quality of your review of the project. This will be determined by the end-of-project presentation you give. Criteria one, two and four are worth 20% each and criterion three is worth 40%. It is very important to observe the relative importance of these figures. Put simply, the outcome of the project is worth 40% of the marks and the process of the project is worth 60% of the marks. If you produce a good essay at the last minute, but showing no resources and with poor reflection, you may struggle simply to pass.

Reading

The reading will be specific to your chosen project.

Exam Board and Specification Codes

AQA 7993

 

Mat Carmody
Head of Department