Extended Project Qualification (EPQ)

EPQ

The Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) can help to encourage independent learning and prepare students for higher education. We're pleased to offer a series of resources to support teachers and students with completing an EPQ. 

The EPQ is a Level 3 course usually undertaken in year 12 or 13. The AQA exam board explains that it requires students to create a single piece of work, requiring a high degree of planning, preparation and autonomous working. The projects that students complete will differ by subject, but all will require persistence over time and research skills to explore a subject independently in real depth.

Many students will choose to complete an extended essay (5,000 words is the common guideline) to fulfil this criteria, but it could also be a musical or dramatic composition, report or artefact, backed up with paperwork. Students are also expected to deliver a 10-15 minute presentation on the project after completion. This forms part of the assessment and contributes to the final grade.

Benefits of doing an EPQ

  • Students can include it on their UCAS application, and it could help them meet the conditions of a university place offer, as it's worth extra points
  • The opportunity to produce a piece of work that’s truly individual, whether it’s a written research report, event or creative artefact
  • It clearly demonstrates a passion for the subject - particularly useful if the student chooses to study the subject at degree level
  • It shows self-motivation and relevant skills to future employers

Resources for teachers and students

We have developed the following resources which you may find useful:

FAQs

How can an EPQ benefit a UCAS application?

The EPQ is worth a maximum of 28 UCAS points, the equivalent of half an A Level.

At the University of Birmingham, applicants who take the EPQ and meet our offer criteria will be made two offers: the standard offer for their programme of choice; and an alternative offer which will be one grade lower plus a grade A in the EPQ. Please note this excludes our Medicine (A100) and Dentistry (A200) programmes.

For example, where our standard offer is AAA, the two offer would be AAA; or AAB plus A in the EPQ. This alternative offer is applicable if you make Birmingham your firm choice.

Who can take an EPQ?

The EPQ is intended to be accessible to students with a wide range of abilities. Students undertaking an EPQ will need to demonstrate a great deal of commitment and motivation, and an ability to work independently. Students who have difficulty completing coursework or handing in work on time would be advised to consider other options.

The AQA exam board advises that students are required to:

  • Choose an area of interest and draft their project title and aims.
  • Plan, research and carry out their project.
  • Keep a production log of all stages of the project production, reviewing and evaluating their progress.
  • Complete the project product.
  • Prepare and deliver a presentation.
  • Review the outcome of their project and presentation.

Which subjects are acceptable for an EPQ?

Students may study any topic they wish – and many choose something related to the subject that they intend to study at university. It is an opportunity to expand learning in an area that really interests you, so don’t be afraid to go beyond your A-level syllabus. Do try to be specific, as it will help you to focus your research and help you develop a great project. Whatever you choose, remember that the title must be agreed by your supervisor (usually one of your teachers).

How is an EPQ completed?

All projects must include a written report of at least 1000 words, but the outcome of the EPQ can be almost anything: a dissertation, an artefact or model, a performance, a short film, a website or piece of software, a design or blueprints, etc. Once a project is complete, students must also give a short presentation on their project to a non-specialist audience.

Producing such a significant piece of work involves a great deal of effort and commitment; deciding on a topic, researching, writing it up, etc. The usual estimate is around 120 hours of work in total. How you fit this in around your other studies is something your school might be able to help with. Some schools will encourage you to complete the EPQ in year 12, while other students will complete it over the summer between years 12 and 13.

How is an EPQ taught?

Your school or college will provide support and supervision for your EPQ. While the EPQ is a largely independent piece of work, they will advise how to develop the project title and provide guidance for the skills required to successfully complete the project; then supervise throughout, offering advice and guidance to you when you need it. However, they won’t tell you what to do, as it is intended to be an independent project.

How is an EPQ assessed?

Assessment is undertaken by your supervisor and externally moderated by the exam board. Grades are awarded in the range A*-E.