To be put simply, an EPQ is known as an Extended Project Qualification. It is an independent research project which involves either writing a 5,000-word essay or creating a product with a 1,000-word essay alongside it. This can be taken by students in both England and Wales and is the equivalent to 50% of an A-Level. With this additional half grade, it could be vital for a student to get into their first choice of university. However, some students may want to do an EPQ outside of a school setting due to many reasons, which can come with a variety of both advantages and limitations.
In short, an EPQ can be done outside of school. It is far easier to organise if the student is already part of a sixth form or college. However, this can be done without these institutions, but it will be more difficult and incur added costs. EPQ courses can be done in-person or online. Generally online EPQ courses range between £30-50 however some of the best courses can be in the realms of £100-£200. Signing up to these courses is very easy all you need is your basic information (name, age, address etc). Students find they have more freedom with online courses whereas in-person courses provide students with more support.
This article will go over some of the main elements to consider when thinking of completing an EPQ outside of a school environment and it will give you a clear insight into how to begin your EPQ journey.
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Is It Possible to Do an EPQ Outside of School?
The quick and simple answer to this question is yes, it is possible. However, there are key requirements that need to be met in order to make it possible.
Firstly, it massively helps if you are enrolled into either a sixth form or college that is registered with the associated exam centre (for example, AQA). This is so that the finished product can be submitted for marking via a formal educational institution and project supervisors can be provided. It is also essential to check with your enrolled school that you are able to do your extended project externally. Without the help of a college, it can be costly and difficult to arrange. This means that it can sometimes become unrealistic for people, so it is really worth running the idea by your college.
Throughout certain stages of your EPQ project, there are people that you will need to stay in contact with, known as Supervisors. They can give general advice or check in to see that all deadlines are being met. For example, to check that you are not falling behind or have written enough in time for when your final product must be submitted. It is merely essential to have a supervisor during the stages of your extended project journey to have regular contact and check-ups with.
There are certain websites which offer online EPQ courses which can be taken to complete one outside of school. An example website is here. Some universities create these courses for pupils currently studying A-Levels to help prepare them for some of the most important years of their lives. They are able to offer help and advice over a course of a number of weeks, and hopefully by the end you should have a well-written EPQ essay. These are created for those wanting to do an EPQ outside of a school environment and can give useful tips on where to begin.
How Do You Apply for an Online EPQ Course?
Online EPQ courses can be offered by a number of different places and universities. To apply you mostly will only need some basic information, such as, your name, age, email and address. Depending on which course you choose, you may need some billing information to pay for your course. Some simple courses may be free; however, others can offer upgrades to better courses, but again, with an upgrade they will not be free and will still be costly.
It must also be considered that it may be difficult to then get it marked and graded if you are not enrolled into either a school or college as you need someone registered with the required exam centre, this will then also have to be paid for or found a way round. But even still, if you have a home tutor, and they work with a local sixth form, this may still be possible if they manage to get you a place within their EPQ programme.
How Much Do Online EPQ Courses Cost?
Different websites and universities may offer a number of different courses. For example, there may either be short or long courses. This means that prices will vary for what type of course you eventually choose to take.
For a short online EPQ course, which can be accessed and completed over a certain number of weeks, can be offered for free. Such as, the University of Bath offer this type of service which can be found here. Whereas, if you feel you will need a bit longer with a few more benefits and more access, such as extra advice, prices can be around £30 to £50 at the minimum for a good course. An example of one of these cheaper courses can be found here.
However, if you are wanting one of the best courses that most places offer with almost unlimited access, freedom, and flexibility then prices will seriously increase. They will most likely be around £100 to £200. An example course in this price bracket can be found here. However the highest quality courses can actually be up to £3,250 an example of this can be found here. You must have the financial stability to pay for what you’d like to get out of your education. This of course is not possible for some students, depending on their personal situations. But there are other options for those who are not able to pay for one of the best quality courses. Which is why there is most likely a place for everyone.
Is an Online EPQ Course Just as Good as an In Person One?
The short and quick answer for this is yes and no, they are both as useful as each other but in a number of different ways. These courses are created by teachers and people employed by a school, college/sixth form or university who are highly qualified to give the correct advice that is useful to those participating.
Online EPQ courses will most certainly be done via pre-made PowerPoints uploaded to fit when and where in the course you get up to that matches the correct level you are at. These are filled with the suitable information and step-by-step guides to help you start your EPQ. This will range from how to undertake relevant research to choose your project to the correct structure of your final piece. However, there is technicalities to this. For example, there is not constant support from teachers as there is with in person courses.
Choosing the correct course can be difficult. Lots of information should be looked at, including reading reviews from other pupils who have used it in the past. This will be a great insight into picking the right course for you. You may also be able to get in touch with the place or website that is offering the online course via email, if you have any additional questions, before paying or starting your free trial.
In person EPQ courses will be similar, but much more hands on. What I mean by this is that they will offer the same content and advice, however, it will be much easier to ask teachers questions and extra pieces of information you wish to know that are not covered within that meeting. In person courses you will have teachers constantly on hand to answer anything you may be curious about. Instead of waiting for a response via email if you are doing an online course.
For any extra information or advice on EPQ’s and what to expect, there are some articles written by students here who have experienced the process of writing and completing an extended project before, via the Think Student website.
What Are Some Pros and Cons of Online Courses vs In–Person Courses?
|Online Course||Online EPQ courses are completed in an out of school setting, which is therefore able to be completed in your own time as long as the deadline is met.
This extra freedom can make students feel a lot more comfortable and in control of their own work and research.
|Online EPQ courses don’t have much support as they don’t have supervisors.
Money is a necessity if you are wanting the best course and without that it may be a struggle.
|In-Person Course||By completed within the school it is much easier to get started with as they can give some initial ideas or examples from previous pupils.
There is no need to spend lots of time finding the correct course and having to find the money to pay for it.
|Extended projects are not easy, they take up a lot of your free time.
Less freedom. Meetings within school may be at unsuitable times you are unable to manage or attend.