The EPQ offers Sixth Form pupils the opportunity to develop their independent learning skills in preparation for university and to demonstrate organisation, planning, research, critical thinking, problem-solving and presentation skills through a project of their own choosing. The EPQ can give shape and focus to an area of academic interest, whilst producing a piece of work that’s truly individual!
An EPQ is a freestanding qualification and carries UCAS points equivalent to half an A-level. It is therefore possible to achieve an A* grade. Those who take it do so in addition to their A-level courses; it does not replace an A-level.
Most pupils choose topics that lend themselves to producing a 5000-word essay as their ‘final outcome’ but projects which are more practical – performances and artefacts for example – are supported by shorter essays, generally 1000-2000 words.
There is a compulsory skills course taught at the start of the Lower Sixth for all pupils. The EPQ is then started in the second half of the first term and completed by September of the Upper Sixth, in order not to conflict with preparation for A-level exams.
Pupils use the Spring and Summer terms of the Lower Sixth to research and write their EPQ, often using the summer holiday to finish writing. Final presentations are in the final week of September in the Upper Sixth. Marking and moderation of the EPQ takes place in October and pupils can expect to receive their grades in the Spring term of the Upper Sixth.
An increasing number of universities are making reduced offers for those applicants who have completed an EPQ to a high standard, for example making an AAB offer for courses that normally require AAA, provided an A grade is achieved in the EPQ.
Nearly 40,000 candidates a year enter for the AQA EPQ alone. By demonstrating skills, initiative and interest in a subject beyond the classroom the EPQ can certainly be advantageous to a candidate’s university application.
Ms R E Bradley, EPQ Co-ordinator