What is the EPQ?
The Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) is free standing qualification offered by AQA and Edexcel. It involves choosing a topic and carrying out some pretty hardcore research into that particular area, then creating EITHER a 5,000 word report OR a 'product' + a 1,000 word report. After that, you must deliver a small presentation to a group of non-specialists about your topic, lasting from 10 - 15 mins.
Why should I do it?
For your own sake. It allows you to develop your personal interests on a topic you feel genuinely passionate about. Plus, it helps when applying for uni (especially competitive ones, such as Oxbridge), as you are set apart from all the other straight A candidates. It demonstrates your commitment to a subject, and allows you to develop the independent research skills needed for undergraduate study. If you are 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.
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. You cannot do a project on WW2 for example - that's far too broad. You must eventually boil it down to an individual research question. It would be wise to choose your topic based on what you intend on studying after college, not for the hell of it.
Advice on choosing a topic:
Don't duplicate what you've already done at A-level. Choose an aspect of a subject you want to study in more depth and really focus on the topic - ideally, you'd want something you could conduct a lot of research into. Ask your subject 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!
What could my 'product' be?
If you don't fancy writing that beastly report, here's a few ideas for a product:
- a short story or book
- a performance (dance, dramatic..)
- a website or program
- a piece of art
- a musical recording
- a short film or media clip
- a model or something you've made
Some research assistance:
- distinguish between primary and secondary resources
- bare in mind sampling errors, or the validity of the data
- assess the credibility of the data (ie. does the author have anything to gain by misleading us into thinking it is true?) -
- avoid plagiarism
- reference all your findings
- keep a bibliography
Some research methods:
- interview experts in your topic
- books and journals
- the internet
- official publications
How is it graded?
A*-E. Candidate who don't achieve at least an E will be not be awarded with the qualification.
Assessment objective weightings [specification - page 10]:
20% - management: identify, design, plan, and complete the individual project, or task within a group project, applying organisational skills and strategies to meet stated objectives
20% - resources: obtain and select information from a range of sources, analyse data, apply relevantly and demonstrate understanding of any appropriate linkages, connections and complexities of your topic.
40% - 'develop and realise' the project: select and use a range of skills, including new technologies, to solve problems, to take decisions critically, creatively and flexibly, and to achieve planned outcomes
20% - present/review/evaluation: evaluate outcomes including own learning and performance. Select and use a range of communication skills and media to convey and present evidenced outcomes and conclusions
Who can do it?
Your college will tell you if you're able to. Unfortunately, the EPQ isn't available for private entry on AQA or Edexcel.
How long will it take to complete? I'm worried it might interfere with my A-levels.
Most students start work over the summer holidays, during the AS-A2 transition, so it doesn't mess up their studies. It is expected you spend around 120 hours in all, some may do it in less, some may take considerably longer - they are only guidelines.