Hints and tips - five minute read
Rebecca Wood – Education Consultant
Getting started on your EPQ can seem a daunting prospect at the best of times, and we’re aware that at the moment, when you’re possibly without the ready access to advice that you may normally be able to rely on, this year it may seem even more of a challenge.
There are several things that you can do in order to keep things manageable and continue to make progress. The EPQ is a great qualification highly valued by universities and employers. 2020 is a very different year in many ways, but you’ll still be able to get a lot out of your project. I hope the following five areas of advice help!
When deciding what to do for your EPQ, the current climate obviously poses some challenges – but there are also opportunities to explore emerging and relevant issues.
From life under lockdown and new ways of using digital media to the Black Lives Matter movement – the EPQ offers you the opportunity to explore topics away from the curriculum. And, remember you can choose to produce an artefact (film, drama, music, product, painting etc.), a report, an investigation as well as a dissertation.
Think which outcome best suits what you want to explore and what you want to achieve.
However, there will be some limitations in how you would normally research, investigate and perhaps even produce your project – and this needs to be considered when choosing your topic. So be realistic and talk through your ideas with your teacher or tutor as well as family and friends.
Whilst libraries, museums and galleries may be closed its useful to remember that there are lots of online resources you can use.
Libraries offer a range of eBooks and audio books and its easy to join if you’re not already a member. Many museums and galleries also offer online resources, curated exhibitions and virtual tours.
If you are relying on online research then there are a number of places you can access academic and scholarly articles. Scroll to the bottom of any Wikipedia page to find a list of references and articles that are easy to follow up. Google Scholar is also useful in finding academic articles and books.
However, remember to always critically evaluate your sources as not everything you find will be reliable or valid.
And obviously you can still interview people via Zoom and Skype or create simple questionnaires using sites like Survey Monkey to distribute electronically.
As you get back into attending school or college, it can be difficult to manage your time, especially for the EPQ when you are pursuing an independent topic.
Creating a simple timetable and setting some internal deadlines (in addition to any school or college deadlines) and setting some simple objectives will be useful. There are also online tools that can help to produce these kind of charts and plans.
It’s easy to forget what you’ve done. The EPQ requires evidence of ongoing evaluation so it’s important to make regular notes about what you’re doing and how it’s going. Even jotting down a few lines can be really helpful and you can always type them up or expand on them later.
There is a wealth of support available for all aspects of the EPQ which are easy to find and use.
Many universities offer EPQ support (including Manchester, Exeter and York), which includes things like guides to academic writing and guides to research and evaluation.
Some places offer more subject-specific EPQ support like Westminster University who focus on media and the Institute of Physics who offer advice on physics EPQs.
Future Learn (in conjunction with the University of Bath) offer a free online course that you can sign up for.
OCR have a range of online student exemplars that cover different topics, outcomes and grades. These are highly useful, if you’re not sure what an EPQ should look or feel like, and can also be inspirational.
Your school or college will still be there to support you and ask questions about anything you’re not sure about.
So, get thinking, get researching, and get started! Every year we see so many fascinating, thoughtful and creative projects. This year need be no different! Good luck – and enjoy!
If you have any questions you can submit your comments below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also sign up to receive email updates.
Rebecca has taught in post–16 education for 17 years. She also worked as an OCR subject advisor and has been an examiner and moderator across a range of creative subjects. Rebecca has also run workshops for young people as far afield as Brazil and Russia. In her spare time she enjoys travelling, spending time with her two sons and walking her dog.