Spotlighting EPQ projects

Spotlighting EPQ projects

As our Year 13 students proudly showcased their diverse Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) topics to the rest of the school recently, we wanted to share further information about what an EPQ actually is, the benefits of pursuing this route and what our current Year 13 students have chosen to study.

What is the EPQ?

An EPQ is a formal qualification that is taken in addition to A Levels. The process aims to inspire, enthuse and motivate students through the completion of an independent research project. The EPQ is a popular option amongst our Sixth Form students, providing them with a unique opportunity to broaden their skill-set by studying a subject, topic or area that they are passionate about or want to pursue in the next phase of their education.

Commencing in Lower Sixth and continuing until the autumn term of Upper Sixth, an EPQ can take the form of:

- An artefact e.g., artwork or a piece of music

- A production e.g., a charity event or fashion show

- A 5,000-word essay or report.

Students can also choose to work on a group project – e.g., running a charity event at the school.

The first two must be accompanied by a 1,000-word written report.

The benefits of an EPQ:

Students get to choose exactly which topic they want to study for their EPQ, giving them the opportunity to delve deeper into their own personal interests – something you don’t get to do very often in secondary education.

An EPQ also acts as great preparation for the demands of independent university style learning, allowing students to hone their independent research skills, as well as their time management capabilities. The EPQ helps pupils develop and demonstrate self-discipline, and creative and critical thinking. Pupils are also able to adopt the learning style and delivery mechanism that best suits them, which is of huge benefit to their learning motivation.

The EPQ can earn pupils up to 28 additional UCAS points and is greatly valued by higher education institutions – giving them an insight into a student’s interest and their commitment to independent learning. Some universities will occasionally modify their offers to students if they have a successful EPQ - these include Exeter, Southampton, Manchester, York and Birmingham.

 University of Manchester

“The skills students develop through the Extended Project are directly relevant to and useful for university-level student. Students can refer to the Extended Project in their UCAS personal statement and at interview to demonstrate some of the qualities that universities are looking for.”


University of Southampton

"We were the first to introduce an alternative offer scheme for applicants who excel in EPQ. This reflects our confidence in the EPQ as an excellent preparation for the kinds of independent study necessary for students to succeed at a research intensive university such as Southampton."

University College London

"UCL continues to recognise EPQ's value as preparation for independent study which is key to university-level study." University of Sheffield "We encourage students to complete the EPQ where possible, as we value the development of skills in independent study and research that it can offer." 



University of Edinburgh

"We welcome the use of the Extended Project Qualification as a means of challenging students and encouraging an interdisciplinary approach to learning." 


University of Leeds

“We recognise the value, effort and enthusiasm applicants make in the Extended Project. Individual academic schools will decide whether they will be using the Extended Project in their offer making and we encourage you to provide further information on your project in your personal statement. In some cases admissions tutors may wish to make an alternative offer to applicants, one of which involves successful completion of the Extended Project.”


University of Cambridge

“We welcome the Extended Project and would encourage applicants to undertake one as it will help to develop independent study and research skills valuable for higher education.” 


It’s not just universities that love EPQs either. Employers also place a high value on them for all the same reasons.

Undertaking an EPQ can help students cement a range of skills such as research techniques, evaluation abilities, ICT skills, report writing and presentation experience. The student is essentially their own teacher for this project – although 30 hours of guided learning are available, equating to around a quarter of the time spent on the project.

At the end of the EPQ, students will have a real sense of achievement gained from producing an independent piece of work that they chose and completed by themselves.

St Mary’s Year 13 EPQ projects:

Every year, St Mary’s pupils consistently cover a wide range of inspiring topics, pushing well beyond the boundaries of the areas taught at St Mary’s at A Level. This year is no exception. Our Year 13 pupils recently took time out from their lunch breaks to present their diverse EPQ titles to fellow students in the Learning Resouce Centre (LRC).

This year’s topics were incredibly varied. From writing and illustrating a children’s book, to conducting deeper research into the effects of the 10-year fishing ban on biodiversity in the Yangtze River – the topics really are as individual as our students!

Here are some of the EPQ topics developed this year:

  • Writing and illustrating a children's book
  • A dissertation on the evolution of pizza throughout history  
  • Why is something we never evolved to do, healthy and rewarding? 
  • The misrepresentation and misinterpretation of statistics: A guide on how to identify skewed statistics and why it matters
  • The role of reciprocity in Katzie relationships and territory  
  • A sculpture on the theme of plastic pollution in oceans
  • Designing an educational booklet to raise awareness to the younger generation of Type 2 Diabetes
  • Writing a String Quartet piece based on real birdsong
  • Making a film depicting the feelings experienced under the symptoms of mental illness 
  • Designing a student cookbook for university for a French and English EXPAT   
  • A book that explores the extent that female victims of domestic violence face injustices in the legal system  
  • 100 Days Cooking Baking For Improvement
  • The potential effects of the ten-year fishing ban on biodiversity in the Yangtze River 
  • A leaflet about ‘Can criminalisation of hate crimes be an adequate response to such crimes?’
  • How I view mental health disorders illustrated on a dress
  • To create a garment, trousers and bag using eco-friendly dyeing methods reducing the use of toxic chemicals within fashion industry and their damaging effect on the water sources around the world 
  • How can recycling clothes affect dancers' body positivity in costumes? 
  • The relationship between Spain and Russia: pre and post the war in Ukraine and its reporting in the public domain 
  • Through creating an experimental film, illustrate a successful exploration in using different media
  • How might the practice of art therapy help children in the autistic spectrum?
  • Creation of an animation on war
  • The sustainability of the fashion industry  
  • 'Patched' - Mini sustainable clothing line
  • To understand the development of ‘Chinese Paintings’ and produce a personal artwork of my own reflecting old and modern society
  • A society of outsiders?  
  • A comparison between Ancient Roman and Ancient Chinese Goddesses: to what extent is a society's expectation and view of women reflected in the depiction of their goddesses? 
  • To what extend do nature and nurture shape our personality? 
  • Creating an animation
  • Does rock music affect the well-being of teenagers? 
  • How chemical reactions in our body trigger romantic love? Which includes three parts (lust, attraction and attachment)
  • Rising stars of the 19th century: how did philosophy influence art? — Create my own piece of painting through the connections between Gustav Klimt and Arthur Schopenhauer
  • How does the beauty industry benefit from nanoparticles?  
  • To what extent can large food retailers help solve the food waste crisis?  
  • Marketing in the Chinese dietary supplement industry: a SWOT analysis of Lemonbox 
  • Designing and creating an eco-friendly soap with natural materials to confront and fight environmental challenges
  • Why is the myth of the dragon so widespread and well-known?  
  • Learning British sign language and creating a video advocating for BSL to be taught as a part of the National Curriculum 
  • Re-designing my sixth-form common room to accomplish style and comfort 
  • Creating a leaflet to decide whether or not we should be visiting SeaWorld

Find out more about undertaking an EPQ at St Mary’s School.