Extended Project Qualification

An Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) is a qualification taken by some students in England and Wales, where it is equivalent to an AS level. They are part of level three of the National Qualifications Framework. It is currently graded A*-E.[1]

The extended project was devised by Sir Mike Tomlinson in 2006, during his review of 16- to 19-year-olds' education.[2] It was a compulsory part of the 14–19 Diploma taken by students in England and Wales between 2008 and 2013. All students may take an extended project as a free-standing qualification, the EPQ, following a recommendation by four examination boards of England and Wales (Edexcel, OCR, AQA, WJEC, Eduqas and CIE) and England's qualifications authority, the QCA.[3]

The students' choice of topic is free, although they must show that it is academically useful, either related to their current course of study, or their future career. It takes the form of either a dissertation (5,000 words being a common guideline[4][5]) or a number of other forms: a musical or dramatical composition, report or artefact, backed up with paperwork. David MacKay, head of the 14-19 curriculum at the QCA, is in favour of EPQs, saying: "Extended projects can help students to develop and demonstrate a range of valuable skills through pursuing their interests and investigating topics in more depth." It has also been praised by universities for guiding students into higher education (typically universities).[3] According to the QCA, an extended project is "a single piece of work requiring a high degree of planning, preparation, research and autonomous working."[2]

The number of students taking up the EPQ is growing dramatically. Around 30,000 students took the EPQ recently and this is growing by the year. Universities look positively at an EPQ and value its rigorous academic content and the vast amount of time taken to complete this. AQA is one of the most popular exam boards and governing body that schools and sixth forms tend to go for; some say that this is because their content and guidelines are very easy to follow for both staff and students. An EPQ contains 100% coursework, there is no exam and students tend to take this up in their second year at sixth form in upper sixth. This is because the project helps students to gain a lot of new information and explore their interests in depth after the transition of A-Levels has finished smoothly and students settled. It also indicates a heavy interest in a particular subject which is useful for those applying to university.


  1. What are Extended Project Qualifications?. AQA website. Accessed 18 April 2010.
  2. Schools consulted on new project. BBC News (May 2006). Accessed 18 April 2010.
  3. Extended project for all call. BBC News (May 2009). Accessed 18 April 2010.
  4. "Level 3 Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) specification" (PDF). AQA. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 October 2011. Retrieved 18 September 2011.
  5. "Extended Project: Centre handbook/specification" (PDF). OCR. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 March 2012. Retrieved 18 September 2011.
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