01 March, 2022

What is the Extended Essay?

The Extended Essay is a 4000-word research project completed by all IB Diploma Programme (IBDP) students and forms part of the Diploma Programme Core; 

it is a piece of independent research on a topic chosen by the student in consultation with a supervisor in the school. The students can choose to pursue a single discipline essay in one of the IBDP subject groups or an inter-disciplinary essay investigating an issue of global significance. The Extended Essay process takes place across years 12 and 13 and greatly enhances students’ skills in research, critical thinking and reflection. These are skills that we place great emphasis on here at NAIS Pudong from an early age: across our Key Stage 3 (Years 7 – 9), Key Stage 4 (IGCSE programme in Years 10 and 11) and IB curriculums we

embed rigourous approaches to teaching and learning, challenging our students and encouraging them to think on an inter- disciplinary level. 

What do students think of the Extended Essay? 

May 2021 Graduate Yukiko: Studying Social Sciences at University College London. World Studies Extended Essay combining Business Management and Psychology to investigate consumer attitudes to plant- based meat. 

As someone who is studying Social Sciences (a heavily essay-based course) at university, having experienced the journey of the Extended Essay turns out to have been a huge advantage when it came to my coursework. Learning how to reference properly, differentiate between academic sources, how to plan your research and structure your argument, and more importantly being able to critically analyse and evaluate, were all tools that I have consistently been using in my course.

To give you an example and a warning, university, at least in the UK, gives you so much more freedom than you are used to at school that you must be confident in your own work methods. In my first term, we had almost no graded work to do, a one-off practice essay, from which we were given 'group feedback', until we were left to our own devices to write 4 essays all ranging between 2000 to 4000 words, over the Christmas holiday. At first this came as a bit of a shock but quite quickly I was reminded of how many times I had carried out the same process in IB in writing the EEs and IAs and in my head I was thanking the teachers at school who gave me endlessly recurrent feedback on how to improve. Using the tools provided at NAIS Pudong where I have always had strong student-teacher relationships, has benefitted me in more ways than I would have imagined. 


Year 13 Student Joungjin: Graduating in May 2022, aiming to study Music Production in the UK. World Studies Extended Essay combining Music and English Literature to investigate themes in Kendrick Lamar’s album To Pimp a Butterfly. 

For IB students, the Extended Essay might be one of the biggest obstacles to overcome throughout the entire diploma programme; a 4000-word essay written at university- standard is definitely an intimidating task for us. However, despite all the initial fear of the Extended Essay, the teacher support at NAIS Pudong and the benefits that I have gained from the Extended Essay are unspeakably immense.

I knew by choosing the topic which I was most interested in and going through a thorough research process, I have gained a very high level of knowledge in my focused discipline and writing about something I love has further ignited my passion for that discipline. Moreover, I have learnt how to write a proper, academic piece of writing: this skill in particular has helped me in so many other subjects, including Physics, Mathematics and Music. My overall comment on writing the Extended Essay is that it has helped me prepare all the skills I need for studying at university; which, to me, is a great advantage of our school as I feel confident going into the next phase of my education. 


Year 12 Student Anna: Graduating in May 2023, aiming to study Literature or Liberal Arts at university. Film Extended Essay investigating Quentin Tarantino as an Auteur. 

Our year group has been introduced to the Extended Essay which is an important part of the IB course. Personally, I am quite excited to embark on this journey. What excites me the most about it is the fact that I have a freedom of exploring any topic I want, while still getting support and guidance from experienced teachers. This makes me believe that writing my EE will be an enlightening and enjoyable process. I hope that this experience can motivate me to improve the research skills I’ve already started developing earlier in school as well as my ability to focus and structure an argument, since those will be useful to me later in life, and the IB course is known for excellently preparing its students for their future.