Extended Project Qualification (EPQ)

EPQ start time...

What is the EPQ?

The Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) is a level 3 (A-level standard) qualification offered by AQA, Edexcel, OCR and WJEC. It involves choosing a topic, carrying out research, then creating EITHER a 5,000 word report OR a 'product' + a 1,000 word report. After that you must deliver a small 10-15 minute presentation to a group of non-specialists about your topic.

Why should I do it?

The EPQ allows you to develop your personal interest in a topic you care about. The skills you'll develop as a result of doing the EPQ (e.g. project planning, decision making, record keeping, evaluation, presenting) are invaluable in most jobs and uni courses.Plus, it helps when applying for uni as it demonstrates your commitment to a subject and allows you to develop the independent research skills needed for undergraduate study. If you're lucky enough to receive an interview from your desired university, it gives you something to talk about and really get your teeth into so you don't run out of things to say.

How is it graded?

A*-E. Candidates who don't achieve at least an E will be not be awarded with the qualification.

Is it worth UCAS points?

Yes, it's worth half an A-level. An A* in the EPQ is worth 70 UCAS points, an A 60, B 50, C 40, D 30 and an E 20.

Does the topic have to be related to my A-levels?

Nope, not at all. It can be on literally ANYTHING you want, within reason. But do be careful: It would be silly to do a project on 'World War Two' for example - that's far too broad. And make sure your project choice is practical and ethical. Avoid anything that has the potential to upset or damage anyone.

What topic should I choose?

Start thinking about your own interests and passions, the environment around you and organisations and activities you're a part of. Or maybe you have really strong views about certain issues like human rights or animal welfare? Then there's your future uni choice or career path. And what about your subjects? Don't duplicate what you've already done at A-level, instead choose an aspect of a subject that has intrigued you or a theme that is shared in more than one of your subjects.

Whatever you choose you'll need background reading that you can access (a quick search on Google isn't enough), as well as somecontrasting views on the subject that will allow you to show skills of analysis and evaluation.

If you're still unsure, discuss possibilities with your teachers or check out TSR's advice for specific subject-related ideas. You can also post in our EPQ forum here to ask other students what they think of your idea. But do remember - the decision is yours and yours alone.

What does an EPQ look like?

EPQs can vary from a formal academic dissertation to a recording of a song! 

Here's some examples of previous students' work:

  • a dissertation that analyses an academic debate or issue
  • a report of your own primary research
  • a short story or (very short) book
  • a performance (dance, dramatic..)
  • a website or program
  • a piece of art
  • a short film or media clip
  • a model or something you've made

There will also be a discussion or 'log' of how you approached the project which will include problems you experienced and how you overcame them, how you planned out the project and managed your time as well as your rough notes.

And at the end you'll need to give a presentation about your project to a small audience.

The exam boards are all a little different on how EPQs should be presented so do check with the specification or your teacher.

What do you get marks for?

The mark schemes for the different boards vary but they all give marks in this proportion:

20% - Project planning and time management: how you use the time and resources available

20% - Using resources and research skills: how you collect and use information

40% - Developing an idea and producing an outcome: how you plan and create the project outcome

20% - Evaluation and presentation: your reflection on the project process and communication of the project to others

How long will it take to complete? I'm worried it might interfere with my A-levels

Many students start EPQ work during the summer of year 12. It's expected you spend around 120 hours on your EPQl, some may do it in less, some may take considerably longer - these are only guidelines.

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