The Extended Project Qualification (EPQ)

The EPQ (Extended Project Qualification) is a new qualification which has been developed over the past six years. It offers students that chance to research their own area of academic interest, and to write it up as a dissertation, with the help of a supervisor and a series of focused research skills seminars. Alternatively, students may opt to produce an artefact, perhaps a piece of art or textiles, a DVD, CD or even a stage production.

We are offering a limited number of places to students for whom the EPQ can offer the most benefits, by helping them develop their intellectual interests and learn new skills. It is also very important that the students we select are capable of managing their own time and workload. In particular, we are looking for students with: a strong academic record and potential or well developed creative skills; the ability to think about topics in unusual or original ways; the ability to plan and manage their school work and extra‚Äźcurricular activities; high aspirations for their future.

There are a number of reasons why girls choose to study for an EPQ; it earns students as many UCAS points as an AS Level; it allows students to develop an area of academic interest outside the constraints of examination subjects, and encourages development in research and writing skills, which is invaluable practice for the girls’ future learning at University. It also gives girls a foretaste of teaching methods within Higher Education, as they will get the chance to experience one-to-one teaching. Studying for an EPQ hones the following skills:

  • Critical Thinking and problem solving skills
  • The application of knowledge for practical results
  • Understanding rigorous academic content
  • Development of innovative and creative thinking

Many top independent and local schools have adopted the EPQ for their most able students, and top universities have been very supportive of the move, with many stating how much they value the skills that it develops, and even stating that in competitive subject areas a preference will be given to candidates offering the EPQ.


What do Universities think of the EPQ?

  1. Cambridge University: ‘The Cambridge Colleges welcome the introduction of the Extended Project….primarily because of the benefit we recognise in the skills it will develop in learners and the consequent easing of the transition from study in secondary to higher education’.
  2. Glasgow University: ‘The University very much values the Extended Project and its role in preparing students for a successful higher education experience…in highly selective areas preference may be given to students entering from 2010 with A Levels, who also offer the Extended Project for entry’.
  3. Warwick University: ‘ Warwick welcomes the development of the Extended Project and we anticipate that this qualification will assist in our assessment of an applicant’s potential to succeed at undergraduate level study’.
  4. Newcastle University: ‘We value the skills or research and independent learning that the Extended Project is designed to develop. We welcome applications from students offering the Extended Project alongside A Levels.
  5. Southampton University: Here at the University of Southampton we have recently introduced new admissions criteria regarding the EPQ… All applicants for our Humanities and Human and Social Science courses undertaking an EPQ will receive an alternative offer… one grade reduced from our traditional offer, in exchange for an A in the EPQ”

Student View of the EPQ - Sophie Year 13

Why did you decide to do the EPQ?

The opportunity to develop my interest in a topic that I don't study at A Level in depth really attracted me to the EPQ.
It allowed me to explore more into an area and prove my curiosity and interest for law as that is what I hope to pursue as a career in the future.
Moreover, it also allowed me to extend my independent learning skills to prepare me for university and prove I was capable at writing and research.

Are there any skills that you have gained or further honed from undertaking the EPQ?

Yes! The EPQ taught me so many skills that will be extremely helpful at university.

  • It taught me how to read journals/articles and pick out the points that are relevant to the project.
  • Also, I learnt the importance of planning and preparation and how the entire process is just as significant as the final essay in gaining a successful grade.
  • The EPQ also developed skills I already had such as critical evaluation and the ability to scrutinise sources as well as the importance of referencing and techniques to do this.

What advice would you give to those thinking about doing the EPQ?

  • Choose a topic that you are genuinely interested in because it is a very long process and you will have to truly want to learn, understand and research about that topic in great depth.
  • Don't do the project for the wrong reasons. Yes, the EPQ does look great on UCAS but a good grade in the project is not better than good A-Levels and so it is really important you don't give yourself too much work if you can't handle it.
  • Do not underestimate the amount of work it is! the best way to do it is a little throughout the year regularly. 
  • Plan thoroughly before you start as it will help you write a well structured essay and allow you to time manage effectively.
  • Take full advantage of the resources given to you. Even if you choose a pretty random topic it is highly likely that there will be a teacher or student that knows something about it and will be able to help you. Similarly, ask your supervisor for help (that's what they are there for) and use books in the library and journals (not just the internet!)
  • It's ok if things about your project change -that's part of the process
  • Plan/research with the end goal in mind so that you choose manageable goals

What do you wish you'd done differently or could have done more of?

  • I wish that I had made a more detailed plan early on in the process as I think it would have allowed me to write my essay more effectively and quicker.
  • I also would have refined my title faster so that I would get on with research quicker.
  • If I did it again I would spend more time on the log book from the beginning.

Student View of the EPQ - Bea Year 13

Why did you decide to do the EPQ?

The idea of having the opportunity to delve deeper into an area of interest, whilst gaining skills which universities and employers value, and an AS level, seemed very appealing.  Also I had heard of students in previous years receiving lower offers from universities as a result of them undertaking the EPQ. This was made apparent to me very recently when I received a one grade lower offer from the Birmingham University.

Are there any skills that you have gained or further honed from undertaking the EPQ?

I did not realise when I began the process how many skills would be required in order to complete the project. Throughout the project I built on existing skills such as essay writing and data analysis, and I developed new skills including questionnaire construction (research methods) and critical evaluation.

Any advice you would give to those thinking about doing the EPQ?

Firstly, you have to be prepared to put the work in and make time to actually complete the project. The bulk of the EPQ writing takes place in the summer holidays so if you want to relax all summer then this project isn’t for you.

Also, you must keep up to date with your project for the whole duration by constantly updating your logbook with a detailed description of your progress. This is not something you can leave to the last minute!

I would also advice taking your time to carefully choose a topic. This topic must be of genuine interest to you and possibly relate to your chosen degree course. However, you must ensure you have not or will not study it at A level. You may also want to briefly search for resources (internet, journals, books etc) to see if there are enough available for you to complete a detailed project.

My most important piece of advice would be to plan well. If you can create a very detailed and structured plan your essay should write itself! It is very difficult to plan and structure an essay as you are writing it and will be time consuming.

What would you have done differently or would have done more of?

If I undertook such work again I would start my primary data collection earlier in order to ensure that if I encountered any problems I could solve them without the added stress of a looming deadline! The problem I was confronted with was that care homes were not responding to my online questionnaire. This setback taught me the importance of taking the time to contact the appropriate person, and in this case I contacted the staff in the dementia department. My rectification worked and I was rewarded with responses from the care homes.

Overall, it was an enjoyable and rewarding process and I am sure many of the skills I have learnt and developed will be transferable in the future. 

Student View of the EPQ - Clodagh Year 13

Why did you decide to do the EPQ?

I was doing work experience and saw some fascinating medical cases that I wanted to read into. EPQ gave me a chance to follow my interests and learn a great deal. I am applying to veterinary medicine, a very competitive course, and I wanted to do something that would make me stand out as a candidate. The opportunity to study an area of veterinary medicine in depth appealed to me as it would give me something to talk about at interviews.

Are there any skills that you have gained or further honed from undertaking the EPQ?

 My research skills- to support each of my arguments I used a variety of books, websites and journals. Through doing the EPQ I learnt how to evaluate these sources critically and evaluate their conclusions. It has also taught me a lot about data analysis, lots of my journals were scientific studies which had a lot of data. I had to assimilate relevant information and compile it to support my arguments and understand the statistical tests used. Finally the EPQ honed my writing skills. I only study sciences at A level and so have not continued an essay subject. To complete my EPQ I worked hard on my writing and referencing skills, especially since it is written for a non-specialist audience. I feel this part in particular has also helped my communication skills.

 Any advice you would give to those thinking about doing the EPQ?

Do your EPQ on something you love. The EPQ has lots of advantages but it is no doubt a lot of work and if you choose to do it on a subject just because you think it will look good, it will be very hard to keep up the momentum. I was lucky enough to find a subject that still fascinates me, I hope you do the same.

I would also say be organised, I found creating a timetable was very useful as it ensured I did a little research each week instead of all at once in the summer. To complete the EPQ hassle free start your research as early as possible and reference as you go along do not leave it to the end of your project!

What do you wish you'd done differently or could have done more of?

I wish I had the skills I have now when I was starting the project. At the very beginning I had lots of problems accessing medical journals which I would have no problem doing now. I also wish I had started to gather primary data earlier on, my primary source was good but was not an expert in the field and if I had started earlier I might have found someone more qualified.

Student View of the EPQ - Zoe Year 13

Why did you decide to do the EPQ?

I thought completing the EPQ would give me a slight edge and something that made me different from other applicants when applying for university. I was also excited at the prospect of getting to independently research a topic that I was genuinely interested in.

What was your project about (a brief outline)?

My project explored the extent to which the London Olympic Games of 2012 had been beneficial to the area of East London. The benefits included the area’s urban regeneration, the legacy the Games left behind and improvement in affordable housing. I evaluated short term disruption, lack of preservation of East London’s culture and the success of other unrelated developments as negatives.

Have you enjoyed the process in anyway?

I have really enjoyed being able to immerse myself in a topic which I would like to study further at University. I have also enjoyed seeing how my project has developed, from initially wanting to design a planning portfolio proposal, to evaluating the Green Belt, to finally deciding on the Olympics!

Are there any skills that you have gained or further honed from undertaking the EPQ?/ - Do you feel it has prepared you for university in any way?

I think that the EPQ has definitely prepared me for university. Conducting independent research gave me an insight into what writing a dissertation would be like, which I think is really useful. I have also improved my time management skills, by arranging meetings with my supervisor, completing a logbook and completing the project in under a year. These skills have helped me in my year 13 studies and have prepared me for university study.

Any advice you would give to those thinking about doing the EPQ?

I know it is said quite a lot, but it is so important to pick a topic you are really interested in. A lot of time is spent on your EPQ, so picking a question you genuinely want to know the answer to makes your research and essay writing all the more enjoyable. This passion will really help you to get involved with your question, and your final mark will almost certainly reflect this enthusiasm.

What do you wish you'd done differently or could have done more of?

I wish I had collected more primary evidence while researching, as this would have helped to support the arguments I made. Additionally, I wish I had started writing my essay earlier, instead of leaving the bulk of it to the end of the summer holidays! I would definitely not recommend this!

Zoe – Current Year 13 – Completed her EPQ in September 2016

Contact RMS

The Royal Masonic School for Girls

Rickmansworth Park

01923 773168
plan your route
contact us