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Group 1: Studies in First Language & Literature

An extended essay (EE) in studies in language and literature gives students an opportunity to undertake independent research into a topic of special interest to them within the subject. It is intended to promote advanced research and writing skills, intellectual discovery and creativity.

Studies in language and literature EEs are divided into three categories:

  • Category 1 - Studies of one or more literary works originally written in the language in which the essay is presented.
  • Category 2 - Studies of a literary work or works originally written in the language of the essay compared with one or more literary works originally written in another language. (The work originally written in another language may be studied in translation.)
  • Category 3 - Studies in language based on one or more texts originally produced in the language in which the essay is presented.
Group 2: Studies in Second Language & Culture

An extended essay (EE) in language acquisition or classical languages gives students the opportunity to pursue their interest in language.

Students working on a language acquisition EE must demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the language, culture and society or literature studied. This understanding must be shown in the form of:

  • an analysis of a cultural context or a specific text
  • an analysis of trends in the culture studied and the impact of a cultural change on the form or use of the language
  • an analysis and comparison of literary texts.

Biology is the science that deals with living organisms and life processes. A biology EE should incorporate biological theory and emphasize the essential nature of this subject.


An extended essay (EE) in chemistry provides students with an opportunity to investigate a specific aspect of a material of our environment. The essay must be characterized by a particular chemical emphasis within a more general set of research criteria.

Chemistry is the science that deals with the composition, characterization and transformation of substances. A chemistry EE should incorporate chemical principles and theory, and emphasize the study of matter and of the changes it undergoes.

The outcome of the research should be a coherent and structured piece of writing that effectively addresses a particular research question and arrives at a particular, and preferably personal, conclusion or response to the research question.

Classical Greek & Latin

An extended essay (EE) in classical Greek or Latin gives students the opportunity to investigate in depth non-trivial controversial topics within studies of either the ancient Greek or Roman worlds.

The essay requires students to engage with sources written in classical Greek and Latin, so they must also have sufficient proficiency in these.


An extended essay (EE) in economics provides students with an opportunity to:

  • undertake in-depth research in economics in an area of personal interest to them
  • develop research skills
  • apply economic theory to real-world situations
  • make inferences based on real-world data
  • analyze and evaluate the outcomes of their research.
Environmental Systems & Societies

Environmental issues occupy a position of increasing significance on the world agenda. An EE in environmental systems and societies gives students an opportunity to explore an environmental topic of particular interest to them.

Since the subject is interdisciplinary, the student will need to select and integrate theoretical contexts and methodologies with those academic disciplines appropriate to the chosen topic.

In this respect, a systems approach is particularly effective, and students will be expected to use this approach in the analysis and interpretation of their data.


An EE in geography gives the student an opportunity to apply a range of geographic skills to complete an independent and in-depth research investigation using geographic concepts, methodologies, theories and sources with a clear spatial emphasis.

Global Politics

An extended essay (EE) in global politics gives students an opportunity to undertake an in-depth analysis of a significant, contemporary global political issue.

Students should choose a topic that will allow them to demonstrate their:

• knowledge

• research skills

• critical thinking skills.

The outcome should be a substantial, coherent and structured essay that utilizes relevant key concepts, theoretical foundations and approaches to global politics to effectively answer a specific research question.

Global politics is an interdisciplinary subject, reflecting the complex nature of many contemporary political issues. As a subject, it has its own theoretical and conceptual frames, terminology, methods and literature. It is essential for students undertaking an EE in global politics to have knowledge and understanding of these.


The EE gives students an opportunity to undertake in-depth research in an area of interest to them, of local, regional or global significance.

The outcome of the research should be a coherent and structured essay that effectively addresses a particular issue expressed as a research question.

The question should encourage an investigation that lends itself to analysis and critical commentary. Students should avoid straightforward “What” and “How” questions as they tend to lead to narrative treatment. Terms such as “How significant…?” or “How successful…?” are more likely to engage students in analysis.

“To what extent…?” requires an analytical answer, but if students choose this or a similar term, they need to ensure that their task does also require them to consider other factors to answer the question.


Students must demonstrate an in-depth analysis of a question or problem that has a mathematical focus. This investigation might be, for example:

  • the applicability of mathematics to solve both real and abstract problems
  • the beauty of mathematics, as in, for instance, geometry or fractal theory
  • the elegance of mathematics in the proving of theorems as in, for example, number theory
  • the origin and subsequent development of a branch of mathematics over a period of time, measured in tens, hundreds or thousands of years
  • the links between different branches of mathematics, or the way that branch of mathematics has been born, or has flourished, as a result of technology.

Music—as a form of expression in diverse contexts, with intent, purpose and meaning—should be at the heart of the essay. It must focus on particular pieces of music, experienced by the student through:

  • recordings
  • score study or
  • performances and concerts.

The student is required to embark on a systematic, disciplined and imaginative investigation of musical works. The basis of that investigation, for the purpose of the EE, is musical analysis.


An extended essay (EE) in philosophy provides students with an opportunity to undertake a philosophical investigation into a topic of special interest.

The student is encouraged to:

  • engage in serious personal thought
  • explore in a disciplined and imaginative way a specific philosophical question, in order to
  • arrive at a clear conclusion.

The topic and research question need to be carefully chosen so that they lend themselves to critical investigation rather than to descriptive or narrative responses.

The research question must be formulated as a question, not a statement, and must have a narrow enough focus to be discussed effectively within the word limit.


An extended essay (EE) in physics should answer a research question in physics through focused, evidence-based argumentation. The evidence may be drawn from the student’s personal experimentation and/or book- and internet-based research. Whichever method of research is adopted, the student must use the principles of physics.

The essay must go beyond simply informing the reader and involve the elements of personal and original thinking.

Sports, Exercise & Health Science

An extended essay (EE) in sports, exercise and health science (SEHS) provides students with an opportunity to apply the wide range of skills in the field of sports, exercise and health science to research into a topic of personal interest.

SEHS covers a wide range of topics from human physiology to principles of biomechanics and the nature of skill acquisition. It is an applied science course so its EE investigates a sporting or health-related issue using the principles of science.

Visual Arts

The visual arts are here broadly defined also to include architecture, design and contemporary forms of visual culture.

The outcome of the research should be a coherent and structured piece of writing, with well-integrated and appropriate illustrations, and which effectively addresses a particular research question appropriate to the visual arts.

The research may be generated or inspired by the student’s direct experiences of creating visual artworks, or by their interest in the work of a particular artist, style or period. This might be related to the student’s own cultural context or another cultural context.

Personal contact with artists, curators and other active participants in the visual arts is encouraged, as is the use of local and primary sources.

World Religions

World religions comprises a systematic, critical, yet sensitive study of the variety of beliefs, values and practices encountered in religions around the world.

A rigorous attempt is made to maintain objectivity in the analysis and evaluation of religions. This requires, at the very least, an authentic attempt to understand the beliefs, values and practices of the religion being studied by using language and concepts drawn from that religious tradition.

The concern is not just with what the followers of a faith believe and do, but also with an understanding of why they do so, through an appreciation of the form of life and world outlook constituted by their actions and beliefs.

The result of writing an essay in world religions should be, among other things, improved intercultural understanding.

World Studies

An EE in world studies gives students the opportunity to undertake an interdisciplinary study of an issue of contemporary global significance.

“Interdisciplinary” in this context refers to research that draws on the methods, concepts and theories of two Diploma Programme subjects. It is strongly recommended that students are undertaking a course of study in at least one of the subjects chosen for their essay.

“Contemporary” in this context refers to events that took place during the student’s lifetime.

Students are required to:

  • identify an issue of global importance
  • identify a local manifestation of the issue of global importance
  • develop a clear rationale for taking an interdisciplinary approach and use the conceptual framework and vocabulary of two Diploma Programme subjects.

This provides an opportunity for students to conduct independent interdisciplinary research (not necessarily primary research) that draws on Diploma Programme subjects and integrates them to produce a coherent and insightful analysis of the global issue they choose to investigate.


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