Independent Research-Based Assessments

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.

Here one of our Sixth Formers explains why they chose to do an IRP or EPQ project and how it has helped them to prepare for the future. 



EPQ and IRP Showcase 2021-22

A re-jigging of the EPQ schedule took place during the 2021-2022 year, meaning that all projects were completed at the end of the Lower Sixth year. Approximately 30 students completed the EPQ, with presentations to the rest of the Senior School again having to take place digitally rather than through the previously traditional showcase event in the Ferguson Lecture Theatre. The topics chosen and themes explored were, as always, highly original and suited to the students’ own personal interests. Topic titles this year included;

“What is gene therapy and will it ever be used in the future regularly in the treatment of X-Linked Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Disease? (X-Linked SCID)” – Vibha M

“Recreate a Film from the Silent Era” – Sam H

“Automated Surgical Robotics: An Overview of the Challenges and Future Areas for Development” – Anish M

“What was the main factor that caused a decline in crime in America in the 1990’s?” – Flo S

“An Exploration of techniques on Zoom technology to Promote Engagement amongst KS1 Drama students.” – Hannah T

“Is Animal Testing Justified in the Research and Development of Genetic Engineering in Relation to Non-Human Primate Testing for Neurological/Degenerative Diseases?” Millie C

EPQ and IRP Showcase 2020-21

In September, 45 Upper Sixth students presented their Extended Projects to the rest of the Senior School. Unfortunately, this year the EPQ Showcase could not go ahead in the Ferguson Lecture Theatre, so each student created a video presentation about their project. The students worked extremely hard during lockdown and over the Summer to develop the skills that will be vital in higher education and the workplace. They have produced some interesting projects and fantastic presentations, some of which can be viewed below. 

To What Extent Did America Influence Nazi Germany's Eugenic Programme? - Alex P 

"The study of eugenics has been used to better the human race by discouraging those with undesirable characteristics to not reproduce. This has been associated with the horrors of the Nazi regime where the belief in eugenics was taken to an extreme. I wanted to research America’s eugenics program and how much of an influence it had on Nazi Germany."

In the Area of African Ecotourism, why is ‘Singita’ (which is Shangaan for ‘A Place of Miracles’) Considered to be the World Leader in its Field? - Charlotte G

"Conservation at Singita is supported by three pillars, namely Biodiversity, Community and Sustainability. The What: Singita is a conservation and ecotourism brand that has at its core the preservation of the African Wilderness. The Why: The unspoiled wilderness that was once found in abundance is today becoming rarer, and more vulnerable. The How: By working in partnership with non-profit funds and trusts to implement strategic conservation projects in each region."

What is the future of the British Army? - James D

"Thankfully, many people nowadays may feel somewhat separated from the military and the work that is done within it, due to our country having an all-volunteer force, as opposed to a conscription system. However, the military, and more specifically the Army, is still an influential part of the United Kingdom and, therefore, my project aims to discover what the future of the Army is, and how this impacts us."

How Does Multilateral and Voluntary Aid Affect the Socio-Economic Growth of Sierra Leone? - Clara H 

"International aid has become a critical part of society worldwide, with pressure on governments and national corporations to present themselves as charitable and philanthropic organisations. Despite this, the morals and ethics of aid itself continue to be challenged, with the suggestion that international intervention is a threat to the national sovereignty of receiving countries, or a power play by western nations for their own gain. To get to the root of this argument, it is important to address the question: is aid actually working? In my project, I uncover the reasons behind Sierra Leone’s poverty, the impact of aid and offer solutions for the future. Whilst aid can be an essential part of improving a country’s prosperity, alone it simply cannot break the cycle of a more universal problem." 

To What Extent Should We Be Worried About the Way Sexual Assault is Dealt With within the USA? - Harriet H 

"With the likes of Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein, I wanted to investigate how such serious crimes are able to go under the radar for so many years and why so little survivors report their assaults to the police. I look at the history of the criminal justice system, how rape and sexual assault is portrayed within the media and to its audiences, as well as the psychological effects sexual assault has on survivors. 81% of women and 43% of men reported experiencing some form of sexual harassment and/or assault in their lifetime." 

How Sustainable are the Global Food Systems? - Henry T

"The global food stores are not infinite. The combination of a growing population coupled with the disastrous effects of intensive agriculture, will make scarcity of food a significant concern for our future generations. A concern which if not dealt with within the next 30 years, may be irreversible. Finding solutions to provide nutritious food for nearly 10 billion people by 2050 without destroying our planet is one of the greatest leadership opportunities of our generation. This project was inspired by my work experience at Foods and Inns, based in Mumbai, India, who’s approach to sustainability was driven by the forward thinking of the late Utsav Dhupelia, I spent my time with his son Ameya and his team who are fulfilling his legacy. My project will explore how sustainable the production, transportation and consumption of food actually is whilst also providing solutions to ensure sustainable food systems." 

Tragedy Revived: Combining and Exploring Modern and Ancient Greek Theatre Through the Writing of a Tragic Play - Izzy G

"Since the dawn of time, Theatre has been a universal language which we use to interact with and explore our past, present and future, and whether a 5th Century Athenian or a 21st Century audience member, the tragedies of Ancient Greece seem to speak to us with eternal potency. However, as theatre progresses in parallel with society, is it possible to combine tropes of modern and Ancient Greek theatre to bring the works of the Masters of Tragedy into the modern world? What is it about Greek Tragedy that makes it so universally poignant? Can we recreate this in drama inspired by modern methods? These are all questions that I wanted to try and answer through writing a tragic play inspired by modern and Greek Theatre, that would be meaningful and relevant in today’s world." 

That ‘Gut’ Feeling – How Important Truly is the Health of Your Gut? - Lauren H

"Nervous butterflies, gut-wrenching fear, diabetes, and disease. What do all of these things have in common? They are often sourced in the gut and its inhabitants! But is ‘following your gut’ really a thing? Factors such as diet, hygiene, fitness and even the way you were born can impact the composition of microorganisms in your gut. (In fact, infants born by caesarean section are much more likely to become obese or contract certain diseases than their siblings!) Growing evidence indicates that gut bacteria can influence our social behaviour, anxiety, stress and depressive-like behaviour." 

Does Our Society Need Psychopaths? - Xanthe C

"One hears a lot in the news and on the television about psychopaths but what actually is one and does society need such people? My EPQ answers these questions as I researched, what makes up a psychopath, are you born one or does society play a part, the types of psychopaths, what constitutes a happy society and finally does society therefore need those with psychopathic traits and what is the future for society with psychopaths in it." 

Globalisation - A Phenomenon for the Future? - Marcus M

"Globalisation is undoubtedly a phenomenon that has become a lot more topical during the 21st century- it has almost become a buzz word for describing the world in which we live. However, inequalities, trade wars and more recently the Covid-19 pandemic have led to a monumental disruption of the global world order- we have seen Trump ramping up tariffs on Chinese goods and of course the utter failure of multilateral bodies to deal with the pandemic. In my EPQ I provide an overview of recent developments in the anti-globalisation discourse and proceed to discuss the future of globalisation in light of recent patterns." 

Independent Research Projects

Once again, students in the Upper Sixth not pursuing the EPQ or Python course have undertaken the College’s own Independent Research Programme. This is designed to give them a rigorous introduction to the referencing, research and time management skills they will need to be successful at university. Normally this process entails the creation of a dissertation, however a greater number of students this year opted to create artefacts or performances, thereby giving them more experience in the techniques and processes they will require in their future careers. Topics this year have included genetics in dentistry, designing a model maglev train propulsion system, the prevalence of fake news in today’s society and whether vegetarianism is better than omnivorism. The ability of students to grapple with ideas of interest that do not appear specifically on A Level courses further enriches their education and maintains their passion for learning.

Designing a Model Maglev Train Propulsion System - Harry Ni

Does Infinity Exist? - An Exploration in Philosophy - Addie N

To What Extent are all Economic Agents Perfectly Rational? - Fletcher J

Playwriting for Stage - Evie G

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.