St Mary's Catholic College, Wallasey

St Mary's Catholic College
A Voluntary Aided Academy

Extended Project

What is the EPQ?

The EPQ is a qualification awarded for a single extended essay or product (e.g. Art, DT, etc.) and receives a grade (A*-E) just like any other A Level subject. It is the equivalent of an AS Level in terms of UCAS points (70 points for A*, 60 for A, etc.), but the true value lies more in what it says about you as a student and the skills it can give you. To complete the EPQ, you are required to:

  • Complete a production log (a diary of what you do in the project)
  • Produce the project itself (5000 word essay, or a product with a 1000 word report)
  • Give a presentation on your project

Why should I consider an EPQ?

The EPQ is valuable for a number of reasons. Most importantly, it enables you to develop the skills of independent and extended study; this is enjoyable and rewarding in its own right, but also is excellent preparation for university. The EPQ can also be a lot of fun, as there is no limit to what you can investigate.

This open aspect of the project also makes it a powerful tool for supporting your future career ambitions – if you want to be a lawyer, you can study the law; if you want to be a vet, you can study veterinary science, and so on. The qualification is also highly regarded by universities (see below); they are increasingly looking for students who bring something extra to the table, beyond the basic A Level grades that tens of thousands of applicants possess.

What do universities think of the EPQ?

Different universities have different policies on the EPQ, but they all tend to have a high opinion of it – particularly those which are academically more selective. For example, the Director of Admissions at Cambridge writes: “the potential benefits of extended projects are enormous … Cambridge is one of many universities which support extended projects as good preparation for degree-level study.”

The Manchester University website suggests that students should mention EPQs in their personal statements, to “demonstrate some of the qualities that universities are looking for.” Here is a flavour of some universities’ policies on the EPQ:

  • Some tutors make two offers: AAA at A Level, or AAB and an EPQ (e.g. Bristol & Southampton)
  • EPQ is not included in the UCAS offer, but will be considered if the conditions are not met (LSE)
  • A department normally requiring a fourth AS/A2 subject may accept an EPQ instead (Warwick)

Universities are very happy to discuss their opinions and policies on the EPQ at open days.

How does St Mary’s support the EPQ?

To an extent, your working habits have to be self-directed and independent; that is the whole point of the EPQ. Nevertheless, you will receive  clear and consistent support for your project:

  • One lesson per week in Year 12 which will include sessions devoted to developing essential  skills  including research, referencing and presentation
  • A trip to the Liverpool city library and support from our own school library
  • One lesson per week for the first term of Year 13 to write up and complete the project
  • An experienced project supervisor who will give you plenty of advice on how to execute the EPQ

Time scale

The EPQ is an independent-research project. This means that it is completed mainly in your own time, though as outlined about, there is lots of support available. You will attend the taught lessons during the Autumn and Spring term but stop to focus on the other A Level exams including General Studies. The research will take place in the final term and over the summer and the write up will be during the Autumn term of year 13. The final deadline and presentations will be in December.

If you have any other questions, please see Mr Chew (EPQ Co-ordinator)