The Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) is an option available to Lower Sixth pupils at TWGGS. The course runs alongside A Level subjects and the other options in Lower Sixth, including AS Levels. It is not only an opportunity for pupils to learn and develop a range of knowledge and skills beyond an A Level syllabus, but also to pursue a genuine passion by choosing a topic of their choice.
For many pupils, an EPQ can add considerable interest to the Sixth Form programme and, when it comes to applications to university, it demonstrates independence and discipline. It is evidence of the type of skills that are essential for most undergraduate courses, as pupils engage in independent reading, research and essay writing through the course of their project.
The range of research topics covered by TWGGS Sixth-Formers is impressive, from analysing the enduring impact of Alexander McQueen to evaluating the use and abuse of performance enhancing drugs in certain sports. As long as there is no overlap with the content of accompanying A Level studies, and pupils are able to produce an academic writing on their chosen subject, there is a wealth of possibilities when it comes to selecting the project focus.
Further information is available on the AQA website.
The EPQ is a stand-alone qualification (and so is separate from any A or AS Levels). It is worth half an A Level in terms of UCAS points and is a qualification that requires (and develops) independent study and research skills. TWGGS offers the AQA EPQ at Level 3 which involves:
Topic: selecting a topic/area of interest for an in-depth study
Objective-setting: identifying and drafting an objective for the project, in the form of a question or hypothesis
Planning and monitoring: planning the project, including the research and write-up stages, and adapting and monitoring those plans
Research: conducting thorough research, using a range of appropriate resources and techniques, collecting evidence and selecting information relevant to the focus of the dissertation
Write up: writing an extended report (a dissertation) of about 5,000 words, setting out the findings, arguments, evidence evaluation and overall conclusions
Presentation: presenting findings, conclusions and an evaluation of the project to a small audience
An EPQ comprises a Production Log (a specified set of documents that are completed at intervals through the project), a Dissertation plus a Presentation, together with supporting materials such as the presentation resources and examples of the pupil’s planning, monitoring and research documents.
Each EPQ is assessed individually using the exam board’s criteria. These are currently: managing the project (20%), research and using resources (20%), writing the dissertation (40%) and review and communication (20%). TWGGS does not offer the artefact option or group projects.
TWGGS uses an online platform called ‘Project Q’ for the completion of the Production Log documents. The Production Log includes explanations for the choice of (and changes to) topics, a planning review and a written record of the presentation process. Project Q helps to make the EPQ process transparent and easy to manage for both pupils and teachers. It includes an online journal, communication system and an online document storage system.
The EPQ is undertaken in Lower Sixth and is completed in that year. It runs for most of the school year. Throughout the year, pupils attend one Taught Skills session in every two weekly lesson cycle and have independent study EPQ sessions in their timetable. In addition, pupils schedule one meeting per two weekly lesson cycle with their Supervisor.
Mrs Freeman is the Lead/Co-ordinator of the EPQ at TWGGS and oversees the EPQ as a whole. She delivers a series of Taught Skills sessions through the year, which supports pupils in developing the skills that they need for each stage of the qualification (such as identifying a topic, research skills, academic writing and how to present effectively).
Each EPQ pupil is allocated a supervisor. The supervisor will be a teacher at TWGGS, who acts as a mentor through the project. The supervisor will, among other things, discuss the objectives and topic for the EPQ, meet with their pupil at regular intervals to record and discuss progress, and complete the initial marking of the EPQ at the end of the process. Mrs Freeman and the Senior Leadership Team moderate the marking, as do AQA, the examination board.
The EPQ is highly regarded by universities and by employers. It helps to develop independence, resilience, writing and presenting skills, as well as providing an opportunity to research an area that goes beyond the confines of an A Level syllabus. Since the marking of the EPQ takes into account the entire process, including the Production Log and the Dissertation, the most successful candidates are those who are consistent, organised, thorough researchers, clear and effective writers and able to present effectively. It is therefore also an excellent opportunity to gain confidence and expertise in an area that needs developing (such as public speaking or effective writing).
Other examples of TWGGS pupils’ projects include:
Headteacher Linda Wybar
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