An EPQ is a qualification that is studied at sixth form or college. EPQs are a fantastic way to expand your skillset and is considered to be one of the best ways to prepare for university.
What is an EPQ?
An EPQ is an Extended Project Qualification. EPQs are equivalent to 50% of an A-Level and is part of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF). EPQ grades are marked from A*-E and is entirely graded on coursework, with no examinations.
An EPQ is a short essay, of anywhere between 1,000 and 5,000 words. Your essay can be about anything at all and is then followed by a 10-15 minute presentation to your peers on the subject you're talking about.
There are four different types of EPQ that students can study:
- A dissertation.
- A performance.
- Carry out an investigation.
- Create an artefact.
You will also need to complete an evaluation process as you go. This evaluation process involves completing a logbook, which is also marked as part of your assessment.
The EPQ is mainly for students between 16 and 19, although older students can still take on an EPQ qualification.
How long is an EPQ?
Students are expected to spend around 12 hours on their EPQ. This is not a one-size-fits-all timing though, some students take longer and some take less.
If you feel you are taking too long or could do with more support, speak to your supervisor or teacher. Supervisors and teachers can also help you if your project is being studied during the summer too.
What topics can I do for my EPQ?
An EPQ can be completed on any subject. As long as the subject or topic you are studying does not overlap with your A-Levels, you’re free to choose what you want your EPQ to focus on.
It is best to speak to an advisor beforehand. Advisors are able to point you in the right direction and ensure that your subject or topic choice is appropriate - they can also point you in the right direction if you are ever stuck.
An EPQ is an independent research topic, so your work is must be undertaken on your own. That’s not to say that an EPQ supervisor can’t give you a few pointers in the right direction, but you will need to do the work on your own.
Your school or college must be approved by one of these boards to offer the EPQ.
How to structure an EPQ
First you need to pick a topic. The topic you choose can be about anything, but it’s generally best if it’s related to a subject that you want to study at university, there isn’t a dedicated list of EPQ subjects to choose from.
Generally speaking, your EPQ should be a minimum of 1,000 words, including your EPQ introduction. Once your report is finished, you will then need to give a short presentation about your topic.
Some schools may have some EPQ examples for you to look at to gain inspiration. Extended project qualification examples give you an idea of what you will be graded on, what schools and colleges are looking for and a general way to structure your EPQ.
Can I still go to university with an EPQ?
Universities will still accept students with an EPQ. Specifically, an EPQ can be worth as high as 28 UCAS tariff points, so as long as you meet the university entry requirements, an EPQ will not be a hindrance if you are trying to go to university.
EPQs are highly thought of in education as it is seen as a great way of guiding students into higher education, specifically university.
Do Oxbridge care about EPQs?
You do not need to have an EPQ to study at Oxbridge, but having one does not count against you. Neither the University of Oxford or the University of Cambridge include an EPQ among their entry requirements, but both are supportive of the qualification.
Both universities actively encourage students to study the EPQ if they get the chance. The main reason for both universities recommending it so highly is that it improves people’s independent study and can broaden their skillset.
How many UCAS points is an EPQ?
This depends on your EPQ grading. As EPQs are marked on a scale of A*-E, the points that you can accumulate will depend on the grade you receive for your EPQ course.
This is the UCAS points for EPQ grades:
EPQs are equivalent to half the points for the same grade at A-Level. For instance, a B at A-Level is equivalent to 40 UCAS points, whereas it is 20 for an EPQ.
The topic you choose can be about anything, but it’s generally best if it’s related to a subject that you want to study at university.
Can I take an EPQ outside of school?
Yes, you can, however, you will need to meet certain requirements first. While not an official requirement, it is best if you are registered with a recognised sixth form or college that is approved by the EPQ exam board. This makes it easier to submit your project for marking.
You will also need to have the ability to keep in touch with your supervisor. This is perhaps the most important part of all, as they will need to check that you are meeting your deadlines. Your supervisor can also give you help if you need it.
If you do decide to take an EPQ qualification outside of school, there is a charge. Obviously, those studying at school or college will be able to sit the EPQ for free, but for those outside of school or college, the price is anywhere between £30 and £50 and some have even known to cost as high as £200 in some cases - some truly top-level EPQs can cost as high £3,250.
Which exam boards offer an EPQ?
EPQ projects are covered by most major examination boards in the UK. The full list of the examination boards are:
Your school or college must be approved by one of these boards to offer the EPQ. If you are studying an EPQ from outside of school or college, you will need to contact one of them beforehand to discuss your options or register with an approved college or school.
How is an EPQ different from an HPQ?
An EPQ is different from an HPQ in many ways. The HPQ is a Higher Project Qualification and is similar to an EPQ, but is a level 2 qualification aimed at pupils in Year 9 and 10 and is used as preparation for GCSEs.
An HPQ normally takes around 60 hours to complete and is graded from A*-C. The HPQ is usually used by schools as part of their Gifted and Talented programme for students, but some schools offer it as part of their mainstream curriculum.
You do not need to have sat an HPQ before you do an EPQ and it is not necessary if you are going to university either.
EPQs are equivalent to 50% of an A-Level and is part of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF).
Should I do an EPQ?
Ultimately, that is down to you. The EPQ is an excellent way to round out your UCAS tariff points and gives you a range of transferable skills, such as independent study, essay writing, problem-solving skill, critical thinking, presentation skills, planning and research.
With these skills, an EPQ is a very good way to prepare yourself for life at university. Many of the projects you will undertake at university will be similar to an EPQ, which means that sitting an EPQ beforehand gives you ample experience before you start at university.
An EPQ is also very useful for a personal statement or for a student CV. Even a masters personal statement can benefit from having an EPQ mentioned and it is a great way to show a potential employer or university just how hardworking you are, what skills you have learned from it and more.