There has been a high degree of interest shown in EPQ courses during the Covid period; it is one of the few A levels that is being examined as normal. An EPQ grade will have additional value this year.

The EPQ is an interesting qualification. It is taught and assessed at the same standard as a full A-level but delivered in the same time as an AS – one year course. So it is possible to achieve an A* in one year. The growing popularity with university admissions departments has seen many make lower offers to applicants who have achieved an A/A* in their EPQ. The universities like the EPQ because it develops a range of research skills. These skills are exactly the skills required to do well when studying on undergraduate and post graduate courses. These skills are particularly useful in the humanities.

 

Key issues for UK University Admissions

  • As mentioned the skills that students develop as part of the EPQ are highly valued.
  • Some Universities signal this by adjusting their standard A level offer for certain courses to include the EPQ.
  • Others use EPQ results in Confirmation and Clearing to distinguish between students who have the same A level results.
  • A number of universities and colleges encourage applicants to refer to their project in the personal statement and interviews.
  • EPQs are widely valued by universities and colleges making points-based offers.
  • The EPQ is not as widely offered to students as e.g. A levels. Scarcity value.
  • An Oxbridge interview can be an opportunity to discuss your EPQ and demonstrate your communication skills by presenting on something in which you are the expert.
  • Knowledge of your EPQ will give you confidence to speak well on the topic. Even better if it is related to the course you are applying to. It obviously demonstrates your capacity to learn and thrive in a particular field.

 

How is the EPQ Delivered?

The EPQ can be a wholly written project or part written part artefact (making a robot for example – excellent for Computer Science or engineering applications). The student needs to do all the research and all the writing. You need to do four things to obtain a grade:

  • Complete a taught course of 30 hours.
  • Complete a project of at least 60 hours’ worth of work.
  • Complete an examination board Production Log form showing how you completed your research.
  • Complete a presentation on your project to a live audience.

As part of an Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) programme students receive 30 hours of online teaching (as directed by the exam boards). Students will be expected to spend 60 hours on independent work and will receive individual supervision and guidance with this. Teaching of the skills for the Extended Project can be done purely online using Microsoft Teams or other such platforms. The taught element is likely to include:

  • any skills or techniques that will be required for the safe and effective execution of the project. e.g. safe laboratory or workshop technique, professional codes of practice, ethical guidelines, research methodology.
  • ICT skills that will enhance the production of your report and/or the development of the project covering research, analysis and execution
  • research skills including the ability to search for and identify suitable sources of information and prior research or relevant work already undertaken
  • issues of plagiarism and report writing
  • project management skills including time, resource and task management
  • in the case of a performance, production or artefact, the format and content of rehearsal notes, initial sketches or other working documents in the stages of production
  • the format and structure of accepted academic forms of research report to include abstract, introduction, background research, further research content with all sources cited, discussion, conclusion, references, including the evaluation of sources.

 

What is the Production Log?

The Production Log is a document that is used to record a student’s journey through the project process. The Production Log is not an ‘admin’ document but rather provides the student with the ‘backbone’ of their project.

The EPQ is a process-based qualification. The outcome (essay, artefact, production) is important but the Production Log is just as important. It charts the student’s progress from initial ideas, through their research to their final outcome and evaluation.

It is important that students are aware of how important this document is in relation to their final outcome and that they complete the log as they go along, rather than trying to fill it in retrospectively.

 

This article was written by Dr Christopher Drew, Principal, Cambridge Tutors College

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