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Extended Essay Resources: Subject Resources

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From the IB Guide (2016, p. 116)

The essay is open to students who are writing in a language that they would be capable of offering as a language A.

It must be written in the language for which it is registered.

Students must not submit a group 1 EE in their group 2 language.

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.

From the IB Guide (2016, p. 128)


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.



From the IB Guide (2016, p. 145)


An extended essay (EE) in individuals and societies is intended for students who are interested in undertaking research in an area of business management, economics, geography, global politics, history, ITGS, philosophy, psychology, social and cultural anthropology or world religions.

The individuals and societies EE is intended to encourage the systematic and critical study of:

• human experience and behaviour

• physical, economic and social environments

• the history and development of social and cultural institutions.

Students’ choice of topic should enable them to recognize that the content and methodologies of the subjects are contestable and that their study requires critical thinking. Students must have sufficient grounding in the subject under which they submit their essay: reading a textbook or consulting an encyclopedia while writing the EE will not compensate for a lack of proper background knowledge.

From IB

An extended essay (EE) in the sciences gives students an opportunity to apply a range of skills while researching a topic of personal interest in the field. Students working on a science EE must demonstrate an in-depth analysis of the subject matter studied, be it biology, chemistry, computer science, design technology, physics or sports, exercise and health science. This understanding must be shown in the form of a research paper involving a well-formulated research question.

Students should be advised that while there is overlap between the subjects, their study should reflect one specific science area. For example:

• biology—dealing with living organisms and life processes

• chemistry—dealing with the composition, characterization and transformation of substances

• computer science—exploring advances in hardware and software development, network systems and computer control systems.

The nature of the topic under investigation should be different for each subject area and students should be careful if they undertake essays that may blur the boundaries between two science subjects. For example, when studying the pH of a body of water, students may investigate the chemicals responsible for the observed pH (chemistry), or the effect of the pH on the biota (biology).

A critical stage in preparing for the EE is the formulation of a logical and coherent rationale for selecting a particular topic. Students need to identify a topic that offers enough scope for the essay. They also require a research question that allows them to either generate data or examine existing data in order to support or refute their argument.

The outcome of the research should be a coherent and structured piece of writing that effectively addresses the research question and arrives at a particular objective conclusion based on the evidence presented. In addition, students are expected to think critically about their methodology, especially when the data may not support their initial thoughts. Students should consider a range of factors that may have contributed to this.

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From the IB Guide (2016, p. 295)


An extended essay (EE) in mathematics is intended for students who are writing on any topic that has a mathematical focus and it need not be confined to the theory of mathematics itself.

Essays in this group are divided into six categories:

• the applicability of mathematics to solve both real and abstract problems

• the beauty of mathematics—eg geometry or fractal theory

• the elegance of mathematics in the proving of theorems—eg number theory

• the history of mathematics: the origin and subsequent development of a branch of mathematics over a period of time, measured in tens, hundreds or thousands of years

• the effect of technology on mathematics:

• in forging links between different branches of mathematics,

• or in bringing about a new branch of mathematics, or causing a particular branch to flourish.

These are just some of the many different ways that mathematics can be enjoyable or useful, or, as in many cases, both.


From the IB Guide (2016, p. 303)


An extended essay (EE) in the arts gives students an opportunity to undertake an in-depth investigation into a topic within an arts subject of particular interest to them. The EE must demonstrate in-depth understanding of the subject matter studied. This should be shown in the form of:

• a coherent analysis and interpretation of their chosen area in relation to a posed research question

• the testing and validation of the research and consideration of its effect on the practice of the investigated area of the arts

• development and exploration in a disciplined and imaginative way of an area of study specifically appropriate to the curriculum area chosen

• a link to a practical dimension.

The research outcome should always include a link with a practical dimension. Where relevant and possible, students may wish to consult practitioners and professionals, such as performers, directors, researchers, writers, designers, painters, sculptors, composers or critics; or they may wish to visit theatres, galleries, museums and arts centres.

From the IB

An interdisciplinary extended essay (EE) gives students an opportunity to undertake an in-depth and independent investigation into a topic of their choice that considers the relationship between subjects and allows for meaningful connections to be made in relation to their chosen area of research.

For example, in literature and performance, students focus on the nature of the relationships that occur between a chosen text and its adaptation for performance; in world studies an issue of contemporary global significance is explored through the lenses of two subjects; and in environmental systems and societies the interaction and integration of natural environmental systems and human societies are explored.

Students undertaking one of these options must demonstrate a solid understanding of their area of research, taking a fully integrated approach. This examination must be shown in the form of:

• a coherently written and structured essay that effectively addresses an area of research, taking an interdisciplinary approach

• bringing together concepts, methods and approaches from across different subjects

• the development and exploration of an area of study specifically appropriate to the interdisciplinary choice.

The most critical stage in preparing for the EE is the formulation of a logical and coherent rationale for selecting a particular topic for the extended essay, a topic that offers enough scope to provide material for a substantial essay, and the development of ideas around the topic and research question that examine existing views and argue against them.

Topics include:

  • Environmental systems and societies
  • Literature and performance
  • World studies

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