The extended essay

The following workshop is for those students in the first year of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Year Program. This is a 3-day workshop in which all of the concepts of the Extended Essay are presented for its future elaboration. Students are given all the information necessary, all the IB documentation needed, and all the guidelines and deadlines to follow to ensure its completion. The 3-day workshop is broken down as followed:

Day 1
  • Introduction of IBO Mission Statement and the IB Learner Profile
  • Overview of the Extended Essay
  • Aims of the Extended Essay
  • Assessment Objectives
  • Responsibilities of the School
  • Responsibilities of the Supervisor
  • Responsibilities of the Student
  • Day 2
  • The Research Process
  • Length of the Extended Essay
  • Elements of the Extended Essay (Part I)
  • Day 3
  • Elements of the Extended Essay (Part II)
  • Use of Other Media and Materials
  • The Viva Voce (Concluding Interview)
  • Band Descriptors
  • The Diploma Point Matrix
  • IB Academic Subject Areas
  • Academic Honesty and Plagiarism
The IBO Mission Statement

The International Baccalaureate Organization aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.

To this end the IBO works with schools, governments and international organizations to develop challenging programmes of international education and rigorous assessment.

These programmes encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.

International Baccalaureate Organization 2007

The IB Learner Profile

The aim of all IB programmes is to develop internationally minded people who, recognizing their common humanity and shared guardianship of the planet, help to create a better and more peaceful world.

IB learners strive to be:


They develop their natural curiosity. They acquire the skills necessary to conduct inquiry and research and show independence in learning. They actively enjoy learning and this love of learning will be sustained throughout their lives.


They explore concepts, ideas and issues that have local and global significance. In so doing, they acquire in-depth knowledge and develop understanding across a broad and balanced range of disciplines.


They exercise initiative in applying thinking skills critically and creatively to recognize and approach complex problems, and make reasoned, ethical decisions.


They understand and express ideas and information confidently and creatively in more than one language and in a variety of modes of communication. They work effectively and willingly in collaboration with others.


They act with integrity and honesty, with a strong sense of fairness, justice and respect for the dignity of the individual, groups and communities. They take responsibility for their own actions and the consequences that accompany them.


They understand and appreciate their own cultures and personal histories, and are open to the perspectives, values and traditions of other individuals and communities. They are accustomed to seeking and evaluating a range of points of view, and are willing to grow from the experience.

International Baccalaureate Organization 2007


They show empathy, compassion and respect towards the needs and feelings of others. They have a personal commitment to service, and act to make a positive difference to the lives of others and to the environment.


They approach unfamiliar situations and uncertainty with courage and forethought, and have the independence of spirit to explore new roles, ideas and strategies. They are brave and articulate in defending their beliefs.


They understand the importance of intellectual, physical and emotional balance to achieve personal well-being for themselves and others.


They give thoughtful consideration to their own learning and experience. They are able to assess and understand their strengths and limitations in order to support their learning and personal development.

International Baccalaureate Organization 2007


The extended essay is an in-depth study of a focused topic chosen from the list of approved Diploma Programme subjectsnormally one of the student's six chosen subjects for the IB diploma. It is intended to promote high-level research and writing skills, intellectual discovery and creativity. It provides students with an opportunity to engage in personal research in a topic of their own choice, under the guidance of a supervisor (a teacher in the school). This leads to a major piece of formally presented, structured writing, in which ideas and findings are communicated in a reasoned and coherent manner, appropriate to the subject chosen. It is recommended that completion of the written essay is followed by a short, concluding interview, or viva voce, with the supervisor.

The extended essay is assessed against common criteria, interpreted in ways appropriate to each subject.

The extended essay is:

  • compulsory for all Diploma Programme students
  • externally assessed and, in combination with the grade for theory of knowledge, contributes up to three points to the total score for the IB diploma
  • a piece of independent research/investigation on a topic chosen by the student in cooperation with a supervisor in the school
  • chosen from the list of approved Diploma Programme subjects, published in the Vade Mecum
  • presented as a formal piece of scholarship containing no more than 4,000 words
  • the result of approximately 40 hours of work by the student
  • concluded with a short interview, or viva voce.

In the Diploma Programme, the extended essay is the prime example of a piece of work where the student has the opportunity to show knowledge, understanding and enthusiasm about a topic of his or her choice.

In those countries where it is the norm for interviews to be required prior to acceptance for employment or for a place at university, the extended essay has often proved to be a valuable stimulus for discussion.

International Baccalaureate Organization 2007

  • To give students an overview of the Extended Essay.
  • To give students clear concepts on how to work on an Extended Essay according to IB criteria.
  • To clear any doubts and misconceptions in regards to the Extended Essay.
  • To inform students of any recent changes in IB regulations in regards to the Extended Essay.
  • To supply students with all the necessary documentation for the elaboration of the Extended Essay.
  • To advice students on the importance of following guidelines, deadlines, and scheduled meetings with tutors to secure a successful completion of the Extended Essay.

International Baccalaureate Organization 2007

IB Extended Essay Tutors

The IB Extended Essay tutor is selected by the student according to the subject area chosen and the area of expertise of the tutor. This does not limit the student to only choosing tutors from within the IB Program. Students can choose tutors from outside the IB Program, and even from outside the school (to serve as assessors only). Students are, however, obligated to have a tutor in school to testify to the credibility of the research process and elaboration of the Extended Essay. Only the school tutor can testify to the credibility of such and complete the Extended Essay Cover Report, sign the Timeline Report, Proposal Form, and Learning Pathway of the student.

The tutor:

  • provides the student with advice and guidance in the skills of undertaking research
  • encourages and supports the student throughout the research and writing of the extended essay
  • discusses the choice of topic with the student and, in particular, helps to formulate a well-focused research question
  • ensures that the chosen research question satisfies appropriate legal and ethical standards with regard to health and safety, confidentiality, human rights, animal welfare and environmental issues
  • is familiar with the regulations governing the extended essay and the assessment criteria, and gives copies of these to the student
  • reads and comments on the first draft only of the extended essay (but does not edit the draft)
  • monitors the progress of the extended essay to offer guidance and to ensure that the essay is the student's own work; and reads the final version to confirm its authenticity
  • submits a predicted grade for the student's extended essay to IBCA
  • completes the supervisor's report (if the extended essay cover is not signed by both the student and the supervisor, the essay will not be accepted for assessment and may be returned to the school)
  • provides an explanation in the report in cases where the number of hours spent with the student in discussing the extended essay is zero; in particular, it is necessary to describe how it has been possible to guarantee the authenticity of the essay in such circumstances
  • International Baccalaureate Organization 2007

  • writes a report and presents it to the school's Diploma Programme coordinator if malpractice, such as plagiarism, is suspected in the final draft.
  • reads recent extended essay reports for the subject
  • spends between three and five hours with each student, including the time spent on the viva voce
  • ensures that the chosen research question is appropriate for the subject
  • advises students on:
  1. access to appropriate resources (such as people, a library, a laboratory)
  2. techniques of information-/evidence-/data-gathering and analysis
  3. writing an abstract
  4. documenting sources

International Baccalaureate Organization 2007

Elements of the Extended Essay

The Extended Essay consists of the following elements:

  • Title page
  • Abstract
  • Contents page
  • Introduction
  • Body (development/methods/results)
  • Conclusion
  • References and bibliography
  • Appendices
  • The upper limit is 4,000 words for all extended essays. This upper limit includes the introduction, the body, the conclusion and any quotations, but does not include:

  • the abstract
  • acknowledgments
  • the contents page
  • maps, charts, diagrams, annotated illustrations and tables
  • equations, formulas and calculations
  • citations/references (whether parenthetical or numbered)
  • footnotes or endnotes
  • the bibliography
  • appendices
  • International Baccalaureate Organization 2007

    Major Documentation Styles

    The following are examples of acceptable documentation styles:

  • American Political Science Association (APSA)
  • American Psychological Association (APA)
  • Chicago/Turabian
  • Council of Biology Editors (CBE)
  • Harvard citation and referencing guide
  • Modern Language Association (MLA)
  • Numbered references

Writing "academic referencing" into an Internet search engine will bring up lots of useful material. Reputable university sites often allow comparison of several different systems (and do not usually disappear overnight). One such example (accessed 13 March 2006) is There are numerous other online guides to creating bibliographies, as well as printed writers' handbooks.

International Baccalaureate Organization 2007

The Viva Voce

The viva voce is a short interview between the student and the supervisor, and is a recommended conclusion to the extended essay process. Students who do not attend the viva voce may be disadvantaged.

The viva voce serves the following purposes:

  • A check on plagiarism and malpractice in general
  • An opportunity to reflect on successes and difficulties in the research process
  • An opportunity to reflect on what has been learned
  • An aid to the supervisor's report
  • The viva voce should last between 10 and 15 minutes. This is included in the recommended amount of time the supervisor should spend with the student.

    In conducting the viva voce and writing the report, supervisors should bear in mind the following:

  • Examiners want to know that students understand any material (which must be properly referenced) that they have included in their essays. This is particularly important in subjects like mathematics. If the way the material is used in context in the essay does not clearly establish this, the supervisor can check the student's understanding in the viva voce and report on it.
  • Minor slips in citation and referencing may lose the odd mark. If there appear to be major shortcomings, the supervisor should investigate thoroughly. No essay should be authenticated if the supervisor believes it contains plagiarism.
  • In assessing criterion K (holistic judgment), examiners will take into account any information given in the report about unusual intellectual inventiveness or persistence in the face of unexpected difficulties.
  • The report should not attempt to do the examiner's job. It should refer to things, largely process-related, that may not be obvious in the essay itself.
  • Unless there are particular problems, the viva voce should end positively. Completion of a major piece of work such as the extended essay is something for students to feel good about.
  • International Baccalaureate Organization 2007

    The band descriptors are:

  • A Work of an excellent standard
  • B Work of a good standard
  • C Work of a satisfactory standard
  • D Work of a mediocre standard
  • E Work of an elementary standard.
Award of diploma points

The extended essay contributes to the overall diploma score through the award of points in conjunction with theory of knowledge. A maximum of three points are awarded according to a student's combined performance in both the extended essay and theory of knowledge.

Both the extended essay and theory of knowledge are measured against published assessment criteria. According to the quality of the work, and based on the application of these assessment criteria, a student's performance in both the extended essay and theory of knowledge will fall into one of the five bands described previously.

The total number of points awarded is determined by the combination of the performance levels achieved by the student in both the extended essay and theory of knowledge according to The Diploma Points Matrix.

International Baccalaureate Organization 2007

Diploma Programme Subject Areas

The Diploma Programme subject chosen for the extended essay does not have to be one of the subjects being studied by the student for his or her diploma. The list of available subjects, including groups 1 and 2, is given in the Vade Mecum. Extended essays cannot be submitted in theory of knowledge, school-based syllabuses and pilot subjects, with exceptions for the latter two categories listed in the Vade Mecum.

The list of Academic Subject Areas is the following:
  • Biology
  • Business and Management
  • Chemistry
  • Classical Greek and Latin
  • Computer Science
  • Dance
  • Design Technology
  • Economics
  • Environmental Systems and Societies
  • Film
  • Geography
  • History
  • Human Rights
  • Information Technology in a Global Society
  • Mathematics
  • Music
  • Peace and Conflict Studies
  • Philosophy
  • Physics
  • Politics
  • Psychology
  • Social and Cultural Anthropology
  • Theatre
  • Visual Arts
  • World Religion

International Baccalaureate Organization 2007


  • International Baccalaureate Organization (2007). Diploma Programme Extended Essay Guide. Antony Rowe Ltd, Chippenham, Wiltshire, United Kingdom.

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