The ABC of the EPQ - Sixth Formers explain their Extended Project Qualifications

The ABC of the EPQ - Sixth Formers explain their Extended Project Qualifications

As an integral part of their Extended Project Qualification (EPQ), Sixth form students have been presenting their independently researched topics to teachers, peers and younger students over three lunchtimes in the school library. 

An EPQ is a big independent project of the student’s choice which lets them demonstrate skills such as creativity and critical thinking as well as self-discipline and project management. It’s a chance for them to be original and individual in their learning while earning up to 28 extra UCAS points! 

Our students’ original and fascinating projects ranged from ‘What is the effect of plastic on aquatic life.’ to ‘Is music the best form of medication.’ and ‘Designing a costume for the modern-day Juliet Capulet.’. Each project was highly individual, comprehensively researched and well displayed.

Blood pressure, mental health and all that jazz 

Millie G., who joined the Sixth Form in January, wrote a book for her EPQ called “Cathartic Distortion”, which is about the evidence behind the medicinal properties of music. She intends to study forensic science at university and wants to understand the efficacy of various treatments, including drugs, and how the effects can be measured. Her research suggests that while music may not be the best for many diseases, it has been shown to be very good for mental health and wellbeing. A significant lowering of blood pressure, an increase in motivation and the promotion of growth are all proven benefits. And the best sort of music? Jazz! 

She says:

“The EPQ process taught me a lot about time management, including how to improve my own, and the value of being comfortable in working independently.” 

A plastic sea 

Zoe E’s in-depth look at the effect of plastic on aquatic life showed her how an EPQ can be the start of something much greater, as within the EPQ timescale, what could potentially be a much bigger piece of research had to be tamed and controlled, in order to meet some very tight deadlines. She says she learned a lot about her own learning style and how to improve on her project and time management skills. 

In researching coral and fish, and in particular small boney fish, her EPQ concluded that, worryingly, their fertility is affected by the plastics they are exposed to. A survey on the reuse and recycling of plastics from a sample of adults both in the UK and in Boston MA were both encouraging, with 91% saying they would reuse/recycle, and disappointing, with 29% admitting they would not pick up litter they saw laying on the ground. 

During the presentations, feedback from a highly critical student audience was also collected as part of the event, as evidence that visual aids were helpful, concepts were well explained and that overall, presentations were engaging and interesting.  

Study for the EPQ at St Mary's