One of the most interesting and challenging components of the IB Diploma Programme is to undertake independent research into a topic of special interest to the student and then write an Extended Essay of up to 4,000 words. The Extended Essay is a compulsory, externally assessed piece of independent research into a topic chosen by the student and presented as a formal piece of academic writing.
The Extended Essay is intended to promote high-level research and writing skills, intellectual discovery and creativity while engaging students in personal research. This leads to a major piece of formally presented, structured writing of up to 4,000 words in which ideas and findings are communicated in a reasoned, coherent and appropriate manner.
Students at NAIS Hong Kong are guided through the prescribed Extended Essay process of research and writing by an assigned supervisor (a teacher in the school). All students undertake three mandatory reflection sessions with their supervisor, including a short concluding interview (or viva voce), following the completion of the Extended Essay.
Extended Essay topics may be chosen from a list of approved DP subjects normally one of the student’s six chosen subjects for the IB Diploma or the World Studies option. World Studies provides students with the opportunity to carry out an in-depth interdisciplinary study of an issue of contemporary global significance, using two IB disciplines. The aims of the Extended Essay are to provide students with the opportunity to:
- engage in independent research with intellectual initiative and rigour
- develop research, thinking, self-management and communication skills
- reflect on what has been learned throughout the research and writing process.
Students will start their preparations for the Extended Essay in the autumn term of Year 12 and they will need to complete the research or data collection ideally before the end of the summer term so that the final essay can be submitted at the start of the winter term in Year 13. The IB recommend that a student devotes a total of about 40 hours of private study and writing time to the essay. This is excellent preparation for the kind of thesis students are required to write at college/university and it acquaints them with research and academic writing skills needed for success.