Extended Project Qualification (EPQ)
What is an Extended Project Qualification?
An Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) is an optional A-Level qualification that is offered to all students at the end of Year 12. To be eligible for the EPQ, students need to be on track with their current AS subjects, and demonstrate excellent independent study skills. The EPQ is currently graded A* to E and worth a maximum of 70 UCAS points, which is slightly more than an AS-Level (60 points).
The students' choice of topic is free, although they must show that it is academically useful, either related to their current course of study, or their future career. It takes the format of either a written report (5,000 words being a common guideline) or an alternative format, such a musical or drama composition, a report or an artefact, backed up with paperwork. Students will also present their projects in an exhibition to be viewed by other students, parents and members of the community.
Why do an EPQ?
The EPQ has been praised by universities for guiding students into higher education (typically universities). According to the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA), an Extended Project is "a single piece of work requiring a high degree of planning, preparation, research and autonomous working."
The University of Oxford has commented on the usefulness of completing an EPQ, in relation to writing effective Personal Statements for university applications:
“Candidates are encouraged to draw upon their experience of undertaking the project when writing their Personal Statement, particularly if the topic is allied to their chosen degree course.”
Cambridge University views the EPQ as a valuable way to develop independent study and research skills required in higher education:
“We welcome the introduction of the Extended Project and would encourage you to undertake one as it will help you develop independent study and research skills and ease the transition from school / college to higher education.”
What Kind of Subjects are Studied?
Recent projects undertaken by students at SWCHS Sixth Form include:
‘Should the guidelines on resuscitation, withholding and withdrawing care for babies born at less than 23+6 weeks gestation be changed?’
‘How does the Fibonacci sequence describe aspects of nature?’
‘How successful were organised units in resisting the Jewish oppression under Nazi rule during WW2?’
‘Should the international monetary fund have applied a Washington consensus approach in response to the Asian financial crisis of 1997?’
‘Given the UK’s Government’s commitment to cutting carbon emissions by 80% by 2050, to what extent is nuclear power a viable source in meeting the UK’s energy needs?’