IB Diploma: Extended Essay Course Outline

Nature of the extended essay

  • The extended essay is an in-depth study of a focused topic chosen from the list of approved Diploma Programme subjects—normally one of the student’s six chosen subjects for the IB diploma.
     
  • The extended essay is the prime example of a piece of work where the student has the opportunity to show knowledge, understanding and enthusiasm about a topic of his or her choice.
     
  • This leads to a major piece of formally presented, structured writing, in which ideas and findings are communicated in a reasoned and coherent manner, appropriate to the subject chosen.
     

The extended essay is:

  • compulsory for all Diploma Programme students
     
  • externally assessed and, in combination with the grade for theory of knowledge, contributes up to three points to the total score for the IB diploma
     
  • presented as a formal piece containing no more than 4,000 words
     
  • the result of approximately 40 hours of work by the student
     
  • concluded with a short interview, or viva voce, with the supervising teacher (recommended)

 

Assessment objectives

Students are expected to:

  1. plan and pursue a research project with intellectual initiative and insight
     
  2. formulate a precise research question
     
  3. gather and interpret material from sources appropriate to the research question
     
  4. structure a reasoned argument in response to the research question on the basis of the material gathered
     
  5. present their extended essay in a format appropriate to the subject, acknowledging sources in one of the established academic ways
     
  6. use the terminology and language appropriate to the subject with skill and understanding
     
  7. apply analytical and evaluative skills appropriate to the subject, with an understanding of the implications and the context of their research
     

Aims of the EE

  • pursue independent research on a focused topic
  • develop research and communication skills
  • develop the skills of creative and critical thinking
  • engage in a systematic process of research appropriate to the subject
  • experience the excitement of intellectual discovery.
     

Assessment criteria

A: research question

This criterion assesses the extent to which the purpose of the essay is specified. In many subjects, the aim of the essay will normally be expressed as a question and, therefore, this criterion is called the “research question”. However, certain disciplines may permit or encourage different ways of formulating the research task.

B: introduction

This criterion assesses the extent to which the introduction makes clear how the research question relates to existing knowledge on the topic and explains how the topic chosen is significant and worthy of investigation.

C: investigation

This criterion assesses the extent to which the investigation is planned and an appropriate range of sources has been consulted, or data has been gathered, that is relevant to the research question. Where the research question does not lend itself to a systematic investigation in the subject in which the essay is registered, the maximum level that can be awarded for this criterion is 2.

D: knowledge and understanding of the topic studied

Where the research question does not lend itself to a systematic investigation in the subject in which the essay is registered, the maximum level that can be awarded for this criterion is 2. “Academic context”, as used in this guide, can be defined as the current state of the field of study under investigation. However, this is to be understood in relation to what can reasonably be expected of a pre-university student. For example, to obtain a level 4, it would be sufficient to relate the investigation to the principal lines of inquiry in the relevant field; detailed, comprehensive knowledge is not required.

E: reasoned argument

This criterion assesses the extent to which the essay uses the material collected to present ideas in a logical and coherent manner, and develops a reasoned argument in relation to the research question. Where the research question does not lend itself to a systematic investigation in the subject in which the essay is registered, the maximum level that can be awarded for this criterion is 2.

F: application of analytical and evaluative skills appropriate to the subject

G: use of language appropriate to the subject

H: conclusion

This criterion assesses the extent to which the essay incorporates a conclusion that is relevant to the research question and is consistent with the evidence presented in the essay.

I: formal presentation

This criterion assesses the extent to which the layout, organization, appearance and formal elements of the essay consistently follow a standard format. The formal elements are: title page, table of contents, page numbers, illustrative material, quotations, documentation (including references, citations and bibliography) and appendices (if used).

J: abstract

The requirements for the abstract are for it to state clearly the research question that was investigated, how the investigation was undertaken and the conclusion(s) of the essay.

K: holistic judgment                  

The purpose of this criterion is to assess the qualities that distinguish an essay from the average, such as intellectual initiative, depth of understanding and insight. While these qualities will be clearly present in the best work, less successful essays may also show some evidence of them and should be rewarded under this criterion.

Extended Essay Timeline for class of 2016

Extended Essay Timeline for class of 2017