stillcrying
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So I’m in Year 12, just starting my EPQ and was thinking about combining history and physics and answering the question along the lines of: “How close were we to a nuclear war in the Cold War?” I was thinking I could speak about how nuclear bombs work (physics behind it) and the history of events e.g. Cuban missile crisis, where they were nearly used. Can anyone let me know if this is a good base for a question as I really am stuck on what to choose. Thanks!
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clockwork30
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Hey, so first off, I wanna say well done for taking on EPQ! You're gonna enjoy it immensely if you plan it all well.

So, with regards to the question, I think it's really good however, the way its phrased, it doesn't really seem fitting to talk about the physics of nuclear bombs.

As you've said: "How close were we to a nuclear war in the Cold War?" would mostly focus on history and looking at the politics between countries, the threats they faced and the technological advancements associated with it.

Seems to me like when you write the essay, you'll mostly be evaluating sources to answer your question and giving answers which just relay historical events. I'm not too sure if the physics aspect of it would fit in well. If possible, try rephrasing the question and speak to your EPQ supervisor as they may be able to help.

Have you thought of any other topics?
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stillcrying
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(Original post by clockwork30)
Hey, so first off, I wanna say well done for taking on EPQ! You're gonna enjoy it immensely if you plan it all well.

So, with regards to the question, I think it's really good however, the way its phrased, it doesn't really seem fitting to talk about the physics of nuclear bombs.

As you've said: "How close were we to a nuclear war in the Cold War?" would mostly focus on history and looking at the politics between countries, the threats they faced and the technological advancements associated with it.

Seems to me like when you write the essay, you'll mostly be evaluating sources to answer your question and giving answers which just relay historical events. I'm not too sure if the physics aspect of it would fit in well. If possible, try rephrasing the question and speak to your EPQ supervisor as they may be able to help.

Have you thought of any other topics?
Thanks, and I completely understand what you mean. I’ll have to ask my teacher, though she’s never helped with an EPQ before so that’s not great. I probably would focus on the history aspect because history is my favourite subject however I wanted to open it up a bit to physics too, hence why I’m focusing on nuclear warfare. I’m taking history, maths and physics for my a-levels but I’m not sure what I want to go into afterwards which is a pain as I would like to focus my project onto something that would help me have an edge over other candidates when applying for uni courses or an apprenticeship if you get me.
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artful_lounger
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I don't think it's a good question, and I think there are some issues with how you're planning to approach it.

First of all, it's somewhat vague and as a result, extremely broad ranging; this is the kind of question that would be considered too broad for an undergraduate dissertation, much less the much shorter EPQ (which is just an extended essay, essentially). You need something much more specific to ensure you can actually focus in and do some good analysis on something, rather than just ending up with something very descriptive. You've mentioned the Cuban Missile Crisis - you could very well do an entire EPQ just on some small facet of the Cuban Missile Crisis not relating to nuclear weaponry at all. Your proposed topic includes that potentially, as well as virtually anything anyone could possibly say abou the period.

Following from that latter now, I think your plans for it are a bit confused - are you doing your EPQ as a physics based one, or a history based one? I wouldn't recommend trying to "split" the topic between different disciplines like that. If you wanted to do an EPQ on nuclear physics (as applied to weaponry or otherwise) you really need to be framing the question very differently. As it is, you're wanting to describe some scientific phenomenon (describing things will not score you much if anything) then try and tie it into something relating to the cold war - which is a very long period of history involving multiple nation states.

While you could do an EPQ integrating aspects of science and history (something in the history of science, of which there are many topics relevant to that period of course), you don't want to be merely describing things. A topic on the history of science isn't going to really involve much describing of scientific phenomena anyway - it would be focused on the historical analysis of the events that gave rise to, and individuals involved in the development of, some given scientific or technological thing.

Have you spoken with your teachers about your ideas for your EPQ?
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clockwork30
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(Original post by clarecassar)
Thanks, and I completely understand what you mean. I’ll have to ask my teacher, though she’s never helped with an EPQ before so that’s not great. I probably would focus on the history aspect because history is my favourite subject however I wanted to open it up a bit to physics too, hence why I’m focusing on nuclear warfare. I’m taking history, maths and physics for my a-levels but I’m not sure what I want to go into afterwards which is a pain as I would like to focus my project onto something that would help me have an edge over other candidates when applying for uni courses or an apprenticeship if you get me.
Have you considered doing your EPQ based on one of your hobbies? I did mine on Music but I was applying to Medicine. I actually feel like you would have an edge even if you did something completely unrelated to your future career. Just do it on something you really like otherwise you'll find EPQ a chore to complete whilst having to balance your other A Levels. If your teacher isn't helping you with EPQ, why don't you ask someone else?
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stillcrying
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(Original post by artful_lounger)
I don't think it's a good question, and I think there are some issues with how you're planning to approach it.

First of all, it's somewhat vague and as a result, extremely broad ranging; this is the kind of question that would be considered too broad for an undergraduate dissertation, much less the much shorter EPQ (which is just an extended essay, essentially). You need something much more specific to ensure you can actually focus in and do some good analysis on something, rather than just ending up with something very descriptive. You've mentioned the Cuban Missile Crisis - you could very well do an entire EPQ just on some small facet of the Cuban Missile Crisis not relating to nuclear weaponry at all. Your proposed topic includes that potentially, as well as virtually anything anyone could possibly say abou the period.

Following from that latter now, I think your plans for it are a bit confused - are you doing your EPQ as a physics based one, or a history based one? I wouldn't recommend trying to "split" the topic between different disciplines like that. If you wanted to do an EPQ on nuclear physics (as applied to weaponry or otherwise) you really need to be framing the question very differently. As it is, you're wanting to describe some scientific phenomenon (describing things will not score you much if anything) then try and tie it into something relating to the cold war - which is a very long period of history involving multiple nation states.

While you could do an EPQ integrating aspects of science and history (something in the history of science, of which there are many topics relevant to that period of course), you don't want to be merely describing things. A topic on the history of science isn't going to really involve much describing of scientific phenomena anyway - it would be focused on the historical analysis of the events that gave rise to, and individuals involved in the development of, some given scientific or technological thing.

Have you spoken with your teachers about your ideas for your EPQ?
Thanks for that very detailed reply. Much better than the teacher who’s doing it with us as this is her first year doing the EPQ. With that in mind, I will likely change my EPQ to just history then. Thanks once again! You’ve definitely explained what I’d be best doing a lot more than the teacher.
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stillcrying
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(Original post by clockwork30)
Have you considered doing your EPQ based on one of your hobbies? I did mine on Music but I was applying to Medicine. I actually feel like you would have an edge even if you did something completely unrelated to your future career. Just do it on something you really like otherwise you'll find EPQ a chore to complete whilst having to balance your other A Levels. If your teacher isn't helping you with EPQ, why don't you ask someone else?
I don’t know any teachers other than the ones for my 3 lessons as I’ve just started college. That’s why I came on here
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