Extended Project Qualification and Independent Research Projects

Sixth Former explaining EPQ to guests 2019

Extended Project Qualification (EPQ)

The EPQ is a Level 3 qualification, that give students a free rein to follow a particular passion. The Extended Project Qualification aims to inspire, enthuse and motivate students by providing learners with the skills that Higher Education institutions and employers look for through the encouragement of independent study. It gives students the opportunity to pursue an area of study of their choice. This can be an extension of an area of the syllabus that has captured their interest or something outside of the curriculum that they have an interest in. The qualification is ideal for improving transferable skills such as planning, research, analysis and evaluation as part of their academic curriculum, through the management of a skills-based assessed assignment.

The final project can be presented as a dissertation, an investigation, a design, an artefact or a performance. During their study, they learn and develop skills of independent planning, research, IT competence, presentation and evaluation. All of which are vital skills both for university and the world of work. The project is equivalent to an AS Level but is judged by A2 standards and students are able to gain an A*-E grade in this qualification.  

Independent Research Project (IRP)

Sixth form irp presentation on alzheimers

The Independent Research Project is a course created by Bishop’s Stortford College; it is similar to the EPQ in that it is carried out independently by the student with a supervisor to guide them. However, it allows the student to study a topic of interest without the constraints of the EPQ assessment criteria – it can be more content-based than skills based if desired. Students undertaking an IRP will complete the skills sessions along with those on the EPQ course and will develop those skills throughout the programme of study.

This course of study will result in a non-accredited Bishop's Stortford College certificate at the end of the programme. Students can pursue any area of interest they wish – a great opportunity to taste something new, explore something extra-curricular or examine in detail an aspect of their academic area of interest in more depth. Students can work at their own pace during their ISP lessons in school and outside the classroom, developing independent study skills as they progress through their research.

EPQ and IRP Showcase 2019-20

Extended Project Qualification

EPQ presentation on board in FLT 2019 Visitor looking at EPQ Presentations in FLT 2019

Throughout the first two weeks of November, a large number of Upper Sixth students presented their research projects, either an  Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) or our own award, the Independent Research Project (IRP). 

This year's topics ranged from the impact of plastics on marine ecosystems and whether the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is a flawed personality test, to how important the feminine aspect is in Norse mythology. There were also some impressive practical projects, such as the making of a robotic hand, the engineering challenges of self-driving vehicles and a radio-controlled airship. 

Sixth Former explaining EPQ to guests 2019 Visitors listening to EPQ Presentations 2019

Sixth Form EPQ Presentations in FLT 2019 EPQ Sixth Form Presentations in FLT 2019

There was a real buzz at the EPQ showcase on Wednesday 13th November, and in tutor groups, as the projects were presented. The eloquence and depth of knowledge of the students were truly impressive and they had clearly picked up excellent research, problem-solving and time-management skills, which will stand them in excellent stead for their university studies.

Please click on the project titles below to view some of our students' EPQ projects. 

What Makes a Football Club Successful? - Arthur Sullivan

"I chose this title because football is a great interest of mine and I thought it would be interesting to examine the academic and statistical sides of the game. I chose to undertake the EPQ because I felt it would supplement my university applications and personal statements and has helped me to develop my research, academic writing and independent working skills."

What Impacts Have the Events of 9/11 Had on the Political and Social Landscape of the USA? - Ciara King

"I’ve always been massively interested in 9/11 and American history in general, and I thought this was a great opportunity to explore it further. This project allowed me to develop my research, academic writing and presentation skills as well as explore in depth an area outside my usual area of study, my creativity and a potential career pathway. I’m hoping to do a degree in American Studies at university and focussing on this project confirmed my desire to do it. The whole experience of doing an EPQ is invaluable; it’s a great opportunity to develop new skills, particularly organisation, so that at university / later academic life, doing big projects like this won’t come as much of a shock; it will feel familiar and therefore relatively comfortable."

How Important is the Feminine Aspect in Norse Mythology? - Elizabeth Kesterton

"I have always had an interest in mythology, especially Norse mythology. I was particularly interested with the feminine aspect as not only did women fulfil powerful roles and positions, but many male figures, even Odin, the King of Gods, interacted with the feminine by cross-dressing or using a style of magic traditionally assigned to women. By taking on the EPQ I was able to develop my time management and research skills as well as explore in depth an area outside of my usual studies. I hope the research, IT and writing skills gained through this project will help me at university and in later life." 

Is there Equal Representation of Both Men and Women in Executive Positions in the FTSE 100 Companies, and if not why? - Ella Fradd

"I chose this title because I am interested in women in work which had become even more apparent during my A Level Business Studies course. It is a current 'hot topic' and I thought it would be important to research the inequalities women face. I was inspired to take up the EPQ as I thought it would be great preparation for university and further studies. I was also drawn to the idea I controlled my project and could investigate what I wanted and so the freedom it offered was an advantage.

This project allowed me to develop my research and critical thinking skills as well as explore in depth an area outside my usual area of study. I plan on studying Business Management at university so there will be aspects about diversity/ethics on the course which relates to women in work and I felt this project would prepare me for knowing what I might expect when I enter the workplace in the future. I am glad I decided to complete the EPQ, not only for the satisfaction of completing an extra qualification, but it also taught me valuable skills that I was able to apply throughout my A Level studies."

Is there an Adequate Support System in the Workplace for Employees Suffering from Mental Health Conditions? - Isabelle Malyon

"I chose this title as mental health has been in the limelight in the media a considerable amount over the years. Initially, I was interested in looking at the financial affects mental health has on businesses as I was keen to incorporate both business and psychology into my research. As I progressed with my research I became more and more interested in actually how employees can get support, and if there is an adequate amount of support, which employees can receive.

My project incorporated both business and psychology, however, it was important that I researched into business as I look to study this at university. My project gave me a slight insight into the workplace, how certain aspects are dealt with and knowledge on what a workplace should do or have in place if employees do suffer from such conditions. 

Most importantly, after completing my project I realised I thoroughly enjoyed doing it, particularly the presentation at the end. I really enjoyed speaking to people and to be able to talk about a topic I had spent so much time on." 

Challenges of Engineering Self Driving Vehicles - Jamie Carr

"I chose to do an EPQ about this topic as I wanted to make a self driving vehicle and I felt the title is a good approach to the EPQ requirements. As well as hopefully benefiting my university application, the EPQ has enabled to me develop my decision making and problem solving skills and explore my creativity."

To What Extent has the Indian Premier League Been a Success? - Joshua Pilcher

"I am particularly interested by and passionate about the IPL which is, in my opinion, the home of the best cricket in the world. I was also able to look at the economics of the tournament, which was really interesting as it is what I am going to study at university. I chose to do an EPQ as not only as it helped me to develop my time management, research and critical thinking skills but I wanted to have a qualification that demonstrated by independent studying abilities. Knowing how to carry out academic research and think critically will be really helpful for university and this project proves that I can work well independently which looks good to to future employers."

To What Extent did the Roman Republic Influence the Founding Fathers of America? - Joshua Cawthrey Stern

"I chose this title because it combines all three of my A Level subjects in an interesting way and I felt that it would look great on my CV. This project enabled me to develop my time management skills, research skills and explore an in depth area outside of my usual studies which I believe are the 3 most important skills for me to have acquired. My original direction for the project was too broad and would not have worked so I decided to change my title at the start of the project. This project has given me experience in research and other skills which I believe will support me in my future studies and career development. Doing an EPQ has been really interesting and rewarding and I would most likely recommend it to others." 

Creating an Academic Poster Exploring the Various Possible Synthetic Routes to Luminol - Luke Furnace 

"I chose this EPQ title as I am very interested in synthetic chemistry and I wanted to see if I could plan the synthesis of a complex organic molecule using only household chemicals. I also wanted to expand my knowledge of organic chemistry as well as gain research skills. This project has enabled me to further develop my decision making, problem solving, research and academic writing skills; I have learned a lot about synthetic chemistry and developed many skills which will be very useful in my university degree."

Independent Research Projects 

This year's Independent Research Projects were as varied as always, with investigations into the effect of the media on conservation ecology, the effect of the handover of Hong Kong on its legal system and a consideration of the current extent of UK’s amphibious capability. Many students this year decided to investigate a topic that would be covered during their university degree programme, thereby giving them an opportunity to engage with future course content in a more rigorous academic manner than that which would be expected from any of their A Level options.

It was also pleasing to see several students create websites and lines of code as part of their projects. Several commented that it made them more confident and excited about making the transition to university, whilst others were happy to have the opportunity to further develop an already pre-existing interest. Please click on the project titles below to view some of this year's IRPs: 

What is the Future of Cancer Treatment? - Alex Smink

The Effects of Velocity on Mass and Speed - Charles Favell

Can a Meal Act as a Natural Antibiotic? - Joshua Miles 

EPQ and IRP Showcase 2018-19

Extended Project Qualification 2018-19

Sixth Form Student discusses his EPQ presentation 2018 Sixth Form students in FLT for EPQ presentations 2018

On Friday 9th November 2018, eleven of Bishop's Stortford College’s cohort of Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) students presented their work to an audience of their peers, staff, parents and governors. The event was set up in an exhibition style and guests were able to wander freely between the stands while the students introduced and discussed their work.

EPQ Presentations in FLT November 2018 Guests viewing EPQ presentations in FLT 2018

The atmosphere in the Ferguson Lecture Theatre was truly electric: enthusiasm for their chosen topics was abundantly evident and the knowledge and skill with which they imparted this was highly impressive. Each student gave a mini-lecture and then answered questions from the audience. It was quite remarkable to see both the knowledge and confidence with which the students handled the afternoon. It really demonstrated the educational benefits of going above and beyond the curriculum. All of the students had constructed an annotated display board which charted both the content of their talk as well as the development of their skills in the EPQ. Congratulations to all the students who were not only so professional in their delivery but also so impressive in their knowledge and passion for their subject. 

Independent Research Project 2018-19

Sixth form irp presentation on alzheimers Sixth form irp presentation

Sixth form irp presentation on religion Irp presentation by upper sixth student

A number of Upper Sixth students chose to study for an IRP and during tutorials in November they presented their findings to the adjudicators and the rest of the class. The IRP gives students the opportunity to focus on their independent study skills as they work towards the production of a dissertation, artifact or performance in any subject matter of their choice. Projects this year have included commercial aviation accidents over the last 40 years, stage combat, the depiction of women through art history and the effects of the Harvey Weinstein scandal on Hollywood. 

EPQ Showcase 2017-18

EPQ Showcase 2017-18 girl presenting EPQ Showcase 2017-18 students chatting

EPQ Showcase 2017-18 boy presenting EPQ Showcase 2017-18 girl presenting project

The 2017-18 EPQ showcase took place on Friday 10th November and as always the projects were varied and impressive. Titles included 'Princess Diana; Threat or Saviours?', 'Advertising: Are You Buying It?', 'Is Cancer Really for Life?' and much more. Having conducted their independent research into their chosen topic, the students presented their findings verbally to their peers and members of staff at the showcase. Students were well-prepared for questions and it was clear they had all really engaged with their chosen topics and enjoyed what they were discussing. 

EPQ Showcase 2016-17

Girl Presenting her EPQ Project 2017 Boy Explaining his EPQ Project to Visitor

Girl Presenting her EPQ 2017 EPQ Presentation Afternoon

This year the titles were highly varied, and the Showcase evening on the 20th January 2017 offered a glimpse into some of the topics pupils have chosen. 


CryptographyCryptography is one of the most important topics of today and yet it is rarely publicly discussed.  This study follows the development of cryptography through modern times and present some of the challenges that face the world in times ahead.

Sean Black

Malet Street Gardens: Re-instating the Relic

Malet st gardensWith the imminent threat of the Second World War, there was a major shift in the perception of London's "public" parks. Across Bloomsburg, the iron railings that delineated the terms of access of these spaces were extracted for the production of weapons. At the close of the war and as part of the "Greater London Plan of 1944", each of the green spaces were re-encased in iron. However, due to a number of site-specific idiosyncrasies, one was not: Malet Street Gardens. 

My project is based on uncovering the historical layers to Malet Street Gardens and reinstating the removed characteristics to the still unaware public eye. My architectural based project has been inspired by many different aspiring architects including (but not limited to) Narinder Sagoo, CJ Lim, Norman Foster and Zaha Hadid. The final artefact as shown in these pictures, is my “Trojan Elephant hotel” model that forms the basis of my surrealistic-themed project. 

Emily Brierley

Latin American and African American Protest Music

Protest musicMy extended project compares the evolution and importance of Latin-American and African-American protest music throughout history, studying the most powerful musicians and the fundamental movements that were being protested in these two regions - such as the Civil Rights movement and US imperialism in South America.

Nicholas Cowles

How Film Production Techniques Can Promote a Positive Effect on an Audience

Film productionNicholas Sparks novels have adapted into award winning films, with the repetitive genre of romance being the main focus. Through the exploration of two popular films, Dear John being slightly more modern, I research the similar conventions each producer uses to maintain the same positive effect on the audience. Focusing on trailers, I evaluate the techniques used, which I use to produce my own trailer to show what I have learnt.

Lily Lewin

Has US Foreign Policy Led to Failure of Democracy in the Middle East? 

Us foreign policy middle eastThe United States is unique amongst all nations in publicly and consistently declaring its foreign policy to be the spread of democracy in the world. This is particularly the case in the Middle East. When the Bush Administration did not discover WMDs after the 2003 invasion, they quickly switched to the rationale of building democracy in Iraq and indeed the region. My project investigates the evidence as to whether this lofty aim has indeed been the driving force behind the US’ actions in the region over the last 60 years.

Alexander Sokhanvari


EPQ Showcase 2015-16

How Will AI Affect the Future of Our Species; Can We Survive Without It or Could It Lead to the Extinction of Our Species? 

Alex turley pound image 1"Artificial Intelligence could be the most promising, ground breaking achievement in scientific history. AI also has the potential to become the greatest threat humanity will ever face. Our path takes us to precipice of change which could lead to disaster or success for our species; AI could be the deciding factor. I have focused my project on investigating such possibilities from the realms of science fiction to science fact."

Alexander Turley-Pound

How Did Napoleon Become Such a Significant Figure within France and How Did He Manage to lose this Power by 1815? 

Holly collier image 2png"My project looks into how Napoleon became such a significant figure within France, rising from a lowly Corsican Army officer to first consul of France. It also then considers how he managed to lose this power by 1815, going from being regarded as a national 'saviour' to being banished to exile."

Holly Collier



Are Biological Agents an Effective Method of Mass Destruction? 

Elizabeth farrant image 1"This is a project detailing the use of biological agents throughout history as well as different pathogens which could possibly be used as biological agents. The project also details legislation placed which prevents the use of biological agents. However, the project mainly focuses on the development of the biological weapons programmes Unit 731 (Japan) and Biopreparat (Soviet Union), and also contains a comparison of the two programmes."    

Elizabeth Farrant 

History of Fashion: Swimwear Through the Ages

Georgie palmer image 2"I have always been interested in fashion and decided to further my knowledge by choosing to do my EPQ on a certain area of it. I decided to look at the history of fashion and create a bikini inspired by the 1920s. My EPQ has broadened my knowledge of swimwear and given me many skills for the future."

Georgie Palmer


The Evolution of Language

Ben corti tyler image 2"Since the beginnings of the human race, it has been language that has separated us from the rest of the animal kingdom. Yet the language we first spoke is unrecognisable to humans today. Through looking at the history of Britain to see the formation of Old English, as well as looking at the world around us today, we can see not only how language evolves, but also why it does so. "

Benedict Corti-Tyler