The Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) provides an opportunity for students to extend their abilities beyond the A-level syllabus, stand out and prepare for university or their future career. It is 100% coursework.
An EPQ is a research-based project undertaken on any topic of the student’s choosing: it can be further extension of a subject being studied at A-level, a subject area the student wishes to study at university but which is not part of their school curriculum (e.g. Medicine, Law, Fashion) or simply an area of personal interest unrelated to their other studies. Thus an EPQ is a unique and exciting opportunity for students to manage their own learning. The Project itself can take several forms. In most cases the student will produce an extended essay of approximately 5,000 words. However, it also possible for the Project to take the form of an artefact, model or construction, a CD/video/DVD of performances or activities, an audiotape/multimedia presentation or a journal of activities or events. In these cases a report of at least 1,000 words will accompany the Project.
As part of the Project, the student must complete a Production Log. This documents the planning and progress of the project, including decision-making and the learner’s reflections on the process. They also deliver a 15-minute presentation to an invited audience, explaining their Project and answering questions about it. Projects are undertaken with the assistance of a supervisor who guides the student at every level, although they are not allowed to contribute directly to its content. The initial 30 guided learning hours where the necessary study skills are delivered through tutorial and other sessions. The project is anticipated to take an extra 90 hours of independent study, making it the time equivalent of another subject at AS. Students at the Maynard School can either opt for the EPQ on their options form as their fourth AS, for study from the beginning of Year 12, or they can study it through the Extension Studies Programme in addition to their four AS subjects.
Because an EPQ requires the student to identify and design their own project, adopt a strategic approach to its management and work independently, it is an ideal vehicle for curriculum enrichment and academic extension and is warmly welcomed by universities because it provides evidence of a student’s capacity for independent learning and the development of the very skills they will need to succeed at university. The EPQ also carries up to 70 UCAS points for an A*.
When we went into our first lockdown last year, and with the demise of all public examinations, we took the unprecedented step of offering our entire GCSE year group the opportunity to complete an Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) over the summer months. This is something we always offer in the Lower Sixth and it seemed only reasonable to fast-track it last year to encourage as many as possible to sign up with the added bonus that the girls wouldn’t be undertaking their research whilst also juggling A-level studies at the same time. As a result, we had more girls than ever seizing the chance to add this qualification to their educational CVs, covering a huge and very diverse range of topics. In recent years we have been somewhat remiss at sharing the EPQ subject choices so we are using this opportunity to share with you just some of their titles so you can see for yourself just how clever they all are!