IB Diploma: Extended Essay Course Outline


The extended essay is an in-depth study of a focused topic chosen from the Diploma Programme subjects. It is intended to promote academic research and writing skills, providing students with an opportunity to engage in personal research in a topic of their own choice, under the guidance of a supervisor. 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.

It is mandatory that all students undertake three reflection sessions with their supervisor. The last of these includes a short, concluding interview, or viva voce, with their supervisor following the completion of the extended essay.

Students are introduce by the DP coordinator to the EE process in January of Year 1 (11th grade) and they are given a timeline to follow.


The aims of the extended essay are for students to:

•engage in independent research with intellectual initiative and rigour

•develop research, thinking, self-management and communication skills

•reflect on what has been learned throughout the research and writing process.

Key features of the extended essay

•The extended essay is compulsory for all students taking the Diploma Programme and is an option for course students.

•A student must achieve a D grade or higher to be awarded the Diploma.

•The extended essay is 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.

•The extended essay process helps prepare students for success at university and in other pathways beyond the Diploma Programme.

•The extended essay is a piece of independent research on a topic chosen by the student in consultation with a supervisor in the school.

•It is presented as a formal piece of sustained academic writing containing no more than 4,000 words accompanied by a reflection form of no more than 500 words.

•Students are supported by a supervision process recommended to be 3–5 hours, which includes three mandatory reflection sessions.

•The third and final mandatory reflection session is the viva voce, which is a concluding interview with the supervising teacher.

(from EE guide, https://ibpublishing.ibo.org/extendedessay/)

The nature of the extended essay

The extended essay is a unique opportunity for students to explore an academic area in which they have a personal interest. This takes the form of an independently written research paper that allows students to demonstrate their passion, enthusiasm, intellectual initiative and/or creative approach for their chosen topic. Students develop important transferable skills such as research, critical thinking, and self-management, which are communicated in the form of an academic piece of writing. Emphasis is placed on engagement and reflection on the research process, highlighting the journey the student has made on an intellectual and personal level and how it has changed them as a learner and affected the final essay.

An important aim of the extended essay, as part of the Diploma Programme core is to support and be supported by the academic disciplines. Whichever subject is chosen, the extended essay is concerned with exploring a specific research question through interpreting and evaluating evidence, and constructing reasoned arguments. Guided through this process by a supervisor, students are encouraged to reflect on insights gained, evaluate decisions, and respond to challenges encountered during the research.

Embedded within the process of writing the extended essay are many elements of the approaches to learning (ATL). While research skills are fundamental to successful completion, other ATL skills are implicit in the task. As the extended essay is an independent task, it requires students to self-manage by developing organization and affective skills, including mindfulness, perseverance, resilience and self-motivation. The process of researching and writing the extended essay represents the learner profile in action. Being open-minded, principled and reflective are aspects of the student experience within the extended essay. The extended essay provides students with the opportunity to become more internationally minded by engaging with the local and global communities on topics of personal inquiry. The development of the learner profile attributes help to unify IB learners in a larger community in this shared experience.

Assessment criteria for the Extended Essay

The extended essay is assessed against common criteria, interpreted in ways appropriate to each subject.

Criterion A: Focus and method

This criterion focuses on the topic, the research question and the methodology. It assesses the explanation of the focus of the research (this includes the topic and the research question), how the research will be undertaken, and how the focus is maintained throughout the essay. Total marks available: 34

Criterion B: Knowledge and understanding

This criterion assesses the extent to which the research relates to the subject area/discipline used to explore the research question, or in the case of the world studies extended essay, the issue addressed and the two disciplinary perspectives applied, and additionally the way in which this knowledge and understanding is demonstrated through the use of appropriate terminology and concepts.

Criterion C: Critical thinking

This criterion assesses the extent to which critical-thinking skills have been used to analyse and evaluate the research undertaken.

Criterion D: Presentation

This criterion assesses the extent to which the presentation follows the standard format expected for academic writing and the extent to which this aids effective communication.

Criterion E: Engagement

This criterion assesses the student’s engagement with their research focus and the research process. It will be applied by the examiner at the end of the assessment of the essay, after considering the student’s Reflections on planning and progress form.

Assessment grade descriptors for the Extended Essay

The extended essay is externally assessed, and the grading is on an A-E scale.

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