Suggested Subjects

with Introductory Guidelines.

The best source of information about the Extended Essay is the online version of the most recent guide. Click here.

The following are introductory guidelines for suggested subjects:

GROUP 1

See these examples of Group 1
A group 1 extended essay is intended for students who are writing in their mother tongue (that is, students who could offer the language in question as a language A1). The essay must be written in the language for which it is registered. Students studying a group 2 language who are interested in writing about the literature of that language should read the “Group 2” section. It is intended that students should not submit a group 1 extended essay in their group 2 language.
A group 1 extended essay provides students with an opportunity to:
  • study intensively a literary topic that is suitable in nature and scope for discussion in this form
  • engage in personal critical judgment of literature and to compare this, where appropriate, with established critical comment
  • develop the ability to put forward their views persuasively and in a well-structured manner, using a register appropriate to the study of literature.
Creative writing and essays based on language, culture and/or society topics are not currently permissible as group 1 extended essays.

GROUP 2

See these examples of Group 2
A group 2 extended essay is intended for students who are studying a second modern language. Students may not write a group 2 extended essay in a language that they are offering as a language A1 for their diploma.

A group 2 extended essay provides students with the opportunity to develop their awareness and
knowledge of the language studied, and their understanding of the culture concerned. This is achieved
by enabling students to pursue their interest in the language through research based on texts (taken to
be any meaningful piece of spoken or written language, for example, an article, a book, a play, a poem)
or on specific cultural artifacts (such as works of fine art or architecture, films, radio or television
programmes, or popular music).

The extended essay must be written in the language for which it is registered (the target language). It
must be focused on matters related to the target culture.

The extended essay is a research essay and the assessment criteria emphasize the importance of research
skills rather than linguistic proficiency. Although a certain level of ability in the language is obviously
desirable in order to undertake a group 2 extended essay, fluency is neither a prerequisite nor a guarantee
of success. In fact, students who are fluent in the language but who do not demonstrate the required
research skills will definitely achieve a lower mark than students who are less fluent but who fulfill the
other assessment criteria.

BIOLOGY

An extended essay in biology provides a candidate with an opportunity to apply a range of skills while researching a topic of personal interest in the field of biology. The biological nature of an extended essay is characterized by a particular biological emphasis within a more general set of scientific criteria.

CHEMISTRY

An extended essay in chemistry provides students with an opportunity to investigate a particular aspect of the materials of our environment. Such extended essays must be characterized by a particular chemical emphasis within a more general set of research criteria.
The outcome of the research should be a coherent and structured piece of writing that effectively addresses a particular issue or research question and arrives at a particular, and preferably personal, conclusion.

ECONOMICS

An extended essay in economics provides students with an opportunity to undertake in-depth researchin economics in an area of personal interest to them. It allows students to develop research skills, to applyeconomic theory to real-world situations, and to analyse and evaluate the outcomes of their research.The outcome of the research should be a coherent and structured analytical essay that effectively addresses
the particular research question.

ENVIRONMENTAL SYSTEMS and SOCIETIES

Environmental issues are occupying a position of increasing significance on the world agenda, and an extended essay in environmental systems and societies provides students with an opportunity to explore an environmental topic or issue of particular interest or relevance to themselves and their localities. Since the subject is a multidisciplinary one, the student will need to select and integrate theoretical contexts and methodologies from those academic disciplines appropriate to the chosen topic. In this respect, a systems approach is considered particularly effective, and students will be expected to show some employment of this approach in the analysis and interpretation of the data gathered.

FILM

An extended essay in film provides students with an opportunity to undertake an in-depth investigation into a topic of particular interest to them. Students are encouraged to engage in diligent, serious, personal research, and to develop and explore in a disciplined and imaginative way an area of study specifically appropriate to film or television.
Moving images are part of the everyday international currency of information and entertainment. Audiences everywhere, young and old alike, respond with increasing sophistication to the ways that stories and messages are presented. Complex skills are involved in the interpretation and enjoyment of film, but critical understanding of how images tell stories, create emotional responses and give information is less widely developed.
The study of film in an international context also allows students to broaden their vision of film culture beyond the dominance of Hollywood or popular network television images, in keeping with the spirit of intercultural understanding promoted by the IBO.

GEOGRAPHY

See these examples of Geography
An extended essay in geography provides students with an opportunity to apply a range of skills to produce an independent and in-depth geographical study. The nature of an extended essay in geography is characterized by a spatial emphasis and the application of geographical theory and methodology.

HISTORY

See these examples of History
An extended essay in history (including Islamic history) provides students with an opportunity to undertake in-depth research in an area of history of genuine interest to them. The outcome of the research should be a coherent and structured essay that effectively addresses a particular issue expressed as a research question, or, if this is unsuitable, a hypothesis. Students writing their extended essay in history are strongly advised to use a research question.

Choice of Topic
The topic chosen must focus on the human past, be worthy of study, and lend itself to systematic investigation in line with the published assessment criteria. Essays that focus on events of the last 10 years are not acceptable, as these are regarded as current affairs, not history.

HUMAN RIGHTS

An extended essay in human rights provides students with an opportunity to undertake an in-depth study of a limited topic in this area of research. Students who are considering registering an extended essay in this subject (which is a school-based syllabus) are strongly advised to study carefully a copy of the syllabus, obtainable from IBCA, before making a final decision. The syllabus gives a clear idea of the scope and content of the subject, and will help students to decide whether their choice of topic is appropriate. The outcome of the research should be a coherent and structured essay that effectively addresses a particular issue expressed as a research question, or, if this is unsuitable, a hypothesis.

MATHEMATICS

See these examples of Mathematics
An extended essay in mathematics provides students with an opportunity to demonstrate an appreciation of any aspect of the subject, whether it is:
  • 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 and the powerful structures that enable many seemingly different problems to be solved by a single theory
  • the way that a branch of mathematics has been born, or has flourished, as a result of technology.
These are just some of the many different ways that mathematics can be enjoyable or useful, or, as in many cases, both.

MUSIC

An extended essay in music provides students with an opportunity to undertake in-depth research into a topic of genuine interest to them. The student is encouraged to develop and explore, in a disciplined and imaginative way, a research question appropriate to the subject.
The outcome of the research should be a coherent and structured piece of writing that effectively addresses a particular issue or research question and arrives at a particular, and preferably personal, conclusion.
Real music should be at the heart of an extended essay in music. This means that particular pieces of music, experienced via recordings, live performances or concerts, should be chosen as the core focus of the extended essay. Students should strive for a coherent verbal analysis and interpretation of one or more pieces of music in relation to the chosen research question.
Absolute reliance on textbooks and the Internet is discouraged and no extended essay in music should be based exclusively on such sources. Textbooks should be consulted only insofar as they may stimulate original ideas, provide models of disciplined, structured and informed approaches, and encourage direct and personal involvement with the essay topic.

PEACE AND CONFLICT STUDIES

An extended essay in peace and conflict studies provides students with an opportunity to undertake an in-depth study of a limited topic in this field. Essays should allow students to develop and show research, interpretative and presentational skills.
Students who are considering registering an extended essay in this subject (which is a school-based syllabus) are strongly advised to study carefully a copy of the syllabus, obtainable from IBCA, before making a final decision. The syllabus gives a clear idea of the scope and content of the subject, and will help students to decide whether their choice of topic is appropriate.

PHYSICS

An extended essay in physics provides students with an opportunity to apply a range of skills while researching a topic of personal interest in the field of physics. A physics extended essay is characterized by a particular emphasis on physics within a more general set of scientific criteria. An extended essay in physics must take the form of a research paper involving a hypothesis or a model, or a critical analysis, that demonstrates argumentation, comparison, or the extraction of relevant information or data.
The outcome of the research should be a coherent and structured piece of writing that effectively addresses a particular issue or research question and arrives at a particular, and preferably personal, conclusion.

VISUAL ARTS

See these examples of Visual Arts
An extended essay in visual arts provides students with an opportunity to undertake research in an area of the visual arts of particular interest to them.
The outcome of the research should be a coherent and structured piece of writing (with appropriate illustrations) that effectively addresses a particular issue or research question, appropriate to the visual arts (broadly defined also to include architecture, design and contemporary forms of visual culture). The research may be generated or inspired by the student’s direct experience of artwork, craftwork or design, or interest in the work of a particular artist, style or period. This might be related to the student’s own culture or another culture. Personal contact with artists, curators and so on is strongly encouraged, as is the use of local and/or primary sources.
Absolute reliance on textbooks and the Internet is discouraged and no extended essay in visual arts should be based exclusively on such sources. Textbooks should be consulted only insofar as they may stimulate original ideas, provide models of disciplined, structured and informed approaches, and encourage direct and personal involvement with the essay topic.

WORLD RELIGIONS

Extended essays in world religions provide students with the opportunity to undertake an in-depth investigation into a limited topic within the field of world religions. The study should integrate disciplined research that is informed by scholarly methods with original and imaginative analysis, interpretation, and critical evaluation of the results of that research.
Students who are considering submitting an extended essay in world religions are strongly advised to study carefully a copy of the Diploma Programme syllabus for this subject, before making a final decision. The syllabus gives a clear idea of the scope and content of the subject, and will help students to decide whether their choice of topic is appropriate.
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. Essays that are primarily a defence or critique of the beliefs, values and practices of a particular religious tradition, or that explain or evaluate religious phenomena from the standpoint of another religious tradition or of a secularist ideology, are unacceptable.
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 that they constitute. The result of writing an essay in world religions should be, among other things, improved intercultural understanding.