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EPQ (Extended Project Qualification)

EPQs – what are they?

An EPQ (Extended Project Qualification) is a sixth-form qualification that involves students choosing a topic, carrying out research, creating a report (or ‘product’ and report) and delivering a presentation.

What do they involve?

There are several types of EPQ – students can write a research-based report, put on an event like a charity fundraiser, make something such as a piece of art or model or put on a performance such as a musical. Other options include producing a piece of creative writing or multimedia. But although the choices are wide and varied, students must show that it is academically useful, either relating to their current course of study or future career.

A research-based project involves writing a dissertation (usually 5,000 words); alternatives are backed up with a 1,000 word report. The final stage is a 10-15 minute presentation to a group of non-specialists about your topic. Students are expected to spend around 120 hours on their EPQ - although some take more time, others less. Students can expect support and guidance from a supervisor (normally a teacher) and most do their research in the summer holidays following year 12 and complete the project in the first term of year 13.

How are they graded?

EPQs are currently graded A* to E and they are worth up to half an A level, as well as UCAS points. An A* in the EPQ is worth 70 UCAS points, an A 60, B 50, C 40, D 30 and an E 20.

EPQs are offered by AQA, Edexcel, OCR and WJEC, and although the marking schemes vary, this is a general guide to the grading breakdown:

20% - Project planning and time management: how you use the time and resources available

20% - Using resources and research skills: how you collect and use information

40% - Developing an idea and producing an outcome: how you plan and create the project outcome

20% - Evaluation and presentation: your reflection on the project process and communication of the project to others

What are the benefits?

  • Many universities and employers look favourably at EPQs when assessing applications
  • EPQs help develop skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, presentation and creativity
  • EPQs help prepare you for managing independent research and project management, which are common features of university study and the world of work
  • You choose the subject, so it helps you delve deep and become an expert into topics you feel passionately about
  • An EPQ can give you something unique to talk about in interviews - if it’s related to the university course or job you’re applying for, even better
  • It could widen your options for funding – some university’s scholarships require students to hold a research project qualification

HPQs – what is the difference?

An HPQ (Higher Project Qualification) is similar to an EPQ but is a level 2 qualification available for younger pupils in year 9 and 10 to do as preparation for their GCSEs and as a stepping stone to the EPQ. As with the EPQ, students doing an HPQ are expected to develop research skills, keep a production log, give a presentation on their research and evaluate the process. An HPQ is graded A* to C and is expected to take around 60 hours. Some schools use the HPQ as part of their gifted and talented programme at GCSE level to push more able students beyond their mainstream subjects.

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