Extended Project (EPQ)
Our popular Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) allows students to extend their abilities beyond the A-level syllabus and prepare for university and future career. It is worth half an A-level (70 UCAS points) so can be used to earn extra UCAS points. The EPQ is becoming increasingly popular throughout the country, over 30,000 students take the EPQ in the UK every year. Notre Dame has been running the EPQ since 2011.
What is an EPQ?
The Extended Project Qualification allows students to develop their independent learning, self-management and research skills as they produce a substantial piece of individual research of their choice. A series of meetings with their Project Supervisor will be arranged between April and September of Year 12 with the project ready for presentation and submission in mid to late September of Year 13. It is a 5000 word research project which is fully referenced and presented in an academic style. For practical projects 3000 words are recommended.
“Cambridge asked me for an example of an essay I had written during my time at 6th form… The interview was so much easier as I spent most the time enthusing about my EPQ.”
“Tell all your students to do an EPQ... My first term at university was made so much easier because I had already had the experience of writing an extended essay.”
ND Students 2015
What are the benefits of an EPQ?
The EPQ is the perfect way to encourage students to extend and develop beyond the material being covered in class and explore their passion for a topic. This may help them decide which subject to pursue at university. By taking responsibility for the choice and design of an individual project (or an individual role in a group project) students:
- become more critical, reflective and independent learners
- develop and apply decision-making and problem-solving skills
- increase their planning, research, analysis, synthesis, evaluation and presentation skills
- demonstrate creativity, initiative and enterprise.
How do universities view the EPQ?
The EPQ is awarded UCAS points worth half an A-level and is recognised by universities and employers. Some leading universities, such as Southampton University, have made alternative offers to our students undertaking an EPQ.
The EPQ shows universities that students are genuinely interesting in a subject and are prepared to work independently to increase their knowledge. Many of our ‘Oxbridge’ students are asked to bring an essay to interview. The EPQ provides the perfect platform for students to talk in depth about a specific subject area and impress admissions officers at university. The general message from universities is that they really like the EPQ - a quick flick through online prospectuses confirms this:
- University of Manchester: 'The skills that students develop through the Extended Project are excellent preparation for university-level study.'
- University of Liverpool: 'We encourage candidates to draw upon their experience of undertaking the project when writing their personal statement.'
- University of York: “The EPQ is a definite strength in an application. It can create the heartland of a personal statement and gives it depth and substance.”
How does the EPQ relate to your A-Level programme of study?
The EPQ requires students to carry out research on a topic that they have chosen and is not covered by their other qualifications. They then use this research to produce a written report and, in the case of practical projects, an artefact or a production. A student can take inspiration from something studied in class or something completely unrelated to their studies.
The EPQ is overseen by a project supervisor and follows a university tutor model. The supervisor guides their student through the process; they do not guide the content or unduly influence the outcome of their research. Students will arrange a series of meetings with their supervisor and document these meetings in their Production Log. Students can also receive specific advice and support from a technical supervisor, for example to undertake a practical experiment in a lab. However, the work completed must be based on the student's own research and ideas
Examples of previous EPQ titles at ND
- To what extent are drugs the solution to the Ebola crises?
- To what extent does Bullfighting have a place in modern Spain?
- Is the Riemann Hypothesis true and if so, can it be proved?
- Analyse and evaluate the effectiveness of espionage and intelligence in the English Civil War and Republic compared to the Second World War.
- Does the current taxation system in the UK reinforce social class?
- Which aspects of video game narratives have shown success in their development through critical and commercial acclaim?
How to apply for a place on the EPQ
Year 12 Students can apply to do an EPQ in the spring term. There are a limited number of places available so please be aware that students may be disappointed and some students may need to write a formal letter expressing their suitability for the course.
Students have to be highly dedicated to successfully complete an EPQ and as such the school allocates places based on attendance, attitude to learning, current grades, school predicted grades and ALPS predictions (based on GCSE results). They will have to attend a number of compulsory sessions during the Enrichment Hour which will teach them the skills involved in writing an essay of this length in both the Spring and Summer terms. Students should expect to spend 120 hours in total on an EPQ.
We therefore encourage students to make their main A-Level choices their priority, for this reasons students will only be accepted onto EPQ who are currently achieving consistently high grades in their main A-Level choices.