For our Sixth Form pupils, The Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) is an optional extra that pupils can choose to take alongside their A level subjects, which aims to promote academic skills and independent learning and is a single piece of work that pupils choose to undertake on a topic of their choosing. Throughout their EPQ, pupils develop skills that are transferrable to undergraduate learning such as dissertation writing, planning, academic research, presentation skills and time management.

Choosing to do the EPQ alongside their A level studies is a significant undertaking for pupils. The course sees pupils attend workshops to learn more about the research required, whilst they decide upon their specific focus for their independent work, which often compliments existing subject studies or compliments the course they wish to apply for at university. With ongoing support and supervision, pupils complete an independent study culminating in either a dissertation of around 5,000 words or the creation of an artefact with supporting analysis.

On Wednesday 3 May, Lower Sixth pupils were invited to present their EPQ at a presentation evening. Pupils were thrilled to celebrate and showcase their research to several guests from the St John’s community, including their teachers and parents.

Now an established part of the EPQ, the market place presentation offers pupils an opportunity to engage with assembled guests as the experts in the room. One of the main benefits of doing an EPQ is the opportunity to learn skills that will be an assistance for tertiary education: research, referencing, evaluating sources, time management and the pupils were particularly adept at thinking on their feet.

Richard Harvey, Head of EPQ

EPQ has been an excellent experience for me to delve deep into a topic of interest, having not taken the subject at A level. I did my EPQ on the demand for mental health services, which sparked a massive interest in me. For me, this was one of the driving points as to why I am now going on to study psychology at university. Although it was not an easy experience, choosing something I was interested in made my project much more enjoyable.

EPQ pupil

EPQ was one of the most challenging yet rewarding projects I have done. It was an excellent lesson in staying disciplined and managing your own time, with more independence than other aspects of school life. EPQ nurtured great research skills and a willingness for learning that is priceless. My project focused on the NHS and questioned whether there was any bias against certain demographics, and after researching thoroughly I could discuss both sides of the arguments competently in my presentation, which is just another invaluable skill that I gained during this project.

EPQ pupil

This year, pupil’s projects have explored a fantastic range of topics and questions as diverse as:

‘How can the placebo effect offer a non-pharmacalogical therapeutic pathway treatment within the healthcare system?’

‘Was fear the most significant factor influencing the global herding responses to the Covid-19 pandemic?’

“What has been the most influential factor that has led to the recent growth in popularity of streetwear”

‘By comparing and contrasting the Boeing 747 and Aérospatiale / BAe Concorde, evaluate the importance of their constituent parts in enabling them to fulfil their commercial roles.’

‘The New York Times estimates over 100 cities worldwide have made the shift to free public transport. Evaluate to what extent this policy is viable for London’s transport system in 2023’

‘Should voluntary active euthanasia be legal in the UK with particular focus from an ethical and legal standpoint?’

‘Which is the most effective treatment of Alzheimer’s – drug or alternative treatments?

Should we have a single global currency?

‘Evaluate the positive and negative impacts that social media has had and is having on young people aged 11-30 in the years 2017-2023 and assess how far this has been positive or detrimental.’

‘By analysing Oscar-winning films from 2011-2021, explore how far and in what ways there is diversity in cinema.’

‘Which country has the most successful prison system?’

‘An analysis of how architecture and design has improved to help prevent significant damage to buildings and property during natural disasters. (and is it sufficient enough?)’

‘Saudi Arabia’s investment in sport: A sign of a diversifying economy or a country looking to cover-up human rights violations through sports washing?’