Extended Project Qualification
What is it?
The Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) is designed to teach you how to plan, research and deliver a project. The project normally takes the form of an essay (of between 4-5,000 words) though it can also be 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). At MPW, the essay is the option we pursue. In principle, you can choose to research anything you like. 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’?”
This said, it is important to grasp that the EPQ is not an extended essay by another name. The focus is the delivery of and development of research skills. You will have lessons on how to draw up a plan, how to structure a timeline for research, how and where to look for resources, how to organise your ideas into a thesis and how to deliver a presentation. You will have to detail your progress as you go in the form of the EPQ production log. You will be required to spell out your research plans and later to reflect upon them, along with the challenges you faced and the skills you have developed as an independent researcher. The majority of the marks reflect the quality of the log.
Whereas in your other subjects you are taught the content of what you need to know, the distinctive and valuable feature of the EPQ is that you research and develop your project largely by yourself. You will have a supervisor with whom you can discuss ideas, who will teach you research skills and who will provide advice on the structure and form of the essay.
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 to identify, design and carry out your projects and the methods you used to do this. The second is the extent of the resources you used and how well you used them. The third relates to how the project was developed and realised: the problems you identified and decision you took that enabled you to produce the final outcome, this being the essay. Finally, the fourth criterion concerns how well you could review and reflect on the project. You will be asked to present your findings to an audience and also write about what you have learned about becoming a researcher. You will notice that there is no criterion that relates specifically to the academic quality of the essay. This is because, to echo what was said earlier, the EPQ is not about producing a university-style dissertation but about learning how to do research.
The reading will be specific to your chosen project.
Exam Board and Specification Codes
Head of Department
“Getting into…’ University Guides
Getting into higher education may be the toughest challenge you’ve faced yet. MPW’s careers guidance and university entrance guides can help you pick the right course and the right university, and give you valuable UCAS form help. Written by experts with a wealth of knowledge, MPW Guides are set out in straightforward language. They give clear, practical advice to help you win a place on the course of your choice.