International Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) (9695) [previously International IPQ]

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Develop students’ transferable skills with project-based learning

The OxfordAQA International Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) is a project-based qualification that students can take alongside their chosen International AS/A-levels. The qualification helps students to develop independent learning skills that prepare them for university and beyond. These skills include research, creative problem-solving and report writing.

OxfordAQA’s International EPQ is based on the UK’s most popular EPQ which is offered by AQA and taken by almost 40,000 students annually. It is the first to be designed specifically for international students.

Previously known as the International IPQ, our qualification has a proven track-record as an A-level standard, international project-based qualification which will enable your students to cross academic boundaries and think innovatively.

The International EPQ specification applies now, in place of the previous IPQ. International EPQ submissions are due by 1 May 2024.

  • Recognised by some of the world’s top higher education institutions, both British and American universities encourage students who have taken project qualifications to reference these in their applications.
  • The International EPQ gives students the opportunity to stand out from the crowd in their university applications by demonstrating engagement with their chosen discipline beyond preparation for an exam.
  • With OxfordAQA, the International EPQ allows more practically minded students the unique opportunity to produce a project around an “artefact”. This alternative to the more traditional 5,000-word extended essay requires learners to create a physical object (or outcome) of their choice in addition to a 1,000-word report. The only limit to the nature of the artefact is the candidate’s imagination. Artefacts can take the form of anything from a short film to organising an event of their choice, such as a school talent show.
  • The International EPQ provides development opportunities for your staff as well as students, enabling supervisors to deepen their expertise in both the implementation and assessment of project-based learning.

Extending into the future: Read our full report on the benefits of project-based learning

OxfordAQA International EPQ (9695)

The International EPQ requires 120 hours of study, consisting of 30 hours of taught skills and 90 hours of independent study. Student can complete the EPQ over one or two academic years.

The process works as follows:

  • Students discuss their project ideas with a supervisor and an optional specialist.
  • Students research and develop a project proposal for their supervisor to endorse and the centre coordinator to approve.
  • Students independently develop their projects, guided by a series of taught skills lessons and supported by their supervisor, maintaining a Production Log of their progress.
  • Students submit a 5000-word report and a Production Log. They also deliver an oral presentation to a non-specialist audience. Candidates can incorporate presentations into school parent evenings or ceremonies.
  • Students have the option to submit a 1000-word report and an artefact (in lieu of the longer 5000-word essay). Full details on this option are in the specification.
  • Supervisors grade the projects with the help of our step-by-step grading criteria and provide evidence that the presentation took place.
  • The centre coordinator submits grades to OxfordAQA for moderation.
  • Students receive certificates graded A*-E.

The International EPQ is a version of the UK’s most popular Extended Project Qualification (EPQ). The EPQ is growing in popularity with over 180,000 students taking the qualification since its integration into the UK curriculum in 2007.

It is valued and encouraged by all Russell Group universities, twelve of which offer different conditional offers for students who are taking the qualification.

With the same structure and assessment approach as the EPQ, the International EPQ enjoys all the benefits of the UK qualification. These benefits have been the focus of several research studies in recent years, concluding the following:

  • Students who take the qualification are 29% more likely to achieve a grade A*-B in most of their A-level subjects.
  • Completing the qualification alongside A-level study is associated with better degree performance than taking A-levels only.
  • Project-based qualifications give students ‘sovereignty’ over what and how they study. This helps to develop the independent study skills and self-regulated approach to learning that universities are looking for.
  • Even when taking into account previous academic results, a significant positive relationship was found between qualification achievement and student motivation.
  • There is also evidence that the qualification can help to lower participation barriers.

From the University of Oxford: “Where applicants have undertaken the OxfordAQA International Project Qualification (IPQ), this will not be a condition of any offer but the University recognises that the IPQ will provide an applicant with the opportunity to develop research and academic skills relevant for study at Oxford. Candidates are encouraged to draw upon relevant IPQ experience when writing their personal statement.”

OxfordAQA provides all the resources and advice you need to teach the International EPQ specification effectively.

Please note the International IPQ changed name to become the International EPQ. The resources you will find here are also suited to the new, enhanced International EPQ.

We have too many International EPQ resources to list here, so please visit our resources area for teachers to see them all, including:

  • Schemes of work to allow you to plan how to deliver the specification in a way that will best suit you and your students
  • Teaching guidance to outline clearly the scope of teaching and learning
  • Project exemplars and analysers that allow you to keep track of your students’ progress throughout the teaching year.

There is one entry series for the International EPQ each academic year.  The entry deadline is 21 February and the submission of grades deadline is 1 May each year. See our Exams Admin page for more details.

Students must prepare an oral presentation when they undertake an International EPQ. The presentation can be delivered in the students’ preferred language.

International EPQ provides students with an opportunity to be assessed in multiple ways. Through:

  • The production log
  • The project report
  • The presentation

This gives students more opportunities to demonstrate their skills.

Find out more on our Fair Assessment approach, which focuses on providing assessments that enable students to demonstrate what they know, understand and can do.

Our in-depth online training modules for schools looking to implement project-based learning give support to all members of your school’s International EPQ team. So whether you are a teacher, supervisor or centre coordinator, you can find a course for your needs.

Please note these modules were originally created for the International IPQ. We have made enhancements to the course but the training should still be used for schools following the International EPQ.

Course 1: What is required to deliver the OxfordAQA International EPQ?

Course 2:What makes a good International EPQ supervisor?

Course 3: What is expected of an International EPQ Centre Coordinator?

Course 4: Understanding and applying the Assessment Objectives and grading criteria.

Course 5: How to use the Production log.

Course 6: Understanding artefact projects.

Find out more about the International EPQ e-learning course.

Take a look at:

Please note, these resources refer to the International IPQ but also apply to the enhanced International EPQ.

You must be an approved OxfordAQA centre to enter students for our exams. Make sure you become an OxfordAQA centre before you start teaching a course.

Our successful International IPQ has become the International Extended Project Qualification (EPQ), bringing the title in line with the most popular UK EPQ, studied by over 40,000 students annually.

Schools that are familiar with the International IPQ can rest assured that the revised International EPQ features the same robust content you expect from an international project-based qualification from OxfordAQA. However, we have listened to your feedback and made the following changes to our specification:

  • You told us that some students, parents and universities are confused about the difference between IPQ and EPQ. We are therefore changing the name of the International Independent Project Qualification (IPQ) to the International EPQ (Extended Project Qualification), to avoid any confusion.
  • You told us that you found holistic grading challenging to implement. Rather than given an overall grade based on the project as a whole, teachers will now assign a mark for each Assessment Objective and submit the overall mark to OxfordAQA. We will then set the grade boundaries and issue grades, just as we do for all other non-examined assessment (NEA). This will make it easier to assess students’ performance on the individual components of the project.
  • You told us that you wanted to offer the artefact option. As part of making International EPQ more aligned with the UK EPQ, students will be able to choose between a written project and an artefact option. The written project is the standard 5,000-word report, as currently offered through the International IPQ. The artefact option allows students to create an artefact, such as an artwork piece, a computer programme or a machine, along with a 1,000-word report explaining their research and development process.Both options are assessed using the same mark scheme so there is no advantage or disadvantage to students, it just widens the options for how they can approach their project. Examples of A* project titles (which have used artefacts) from students in the UK include:
    • Investigating the benefits of singing through creating a community choir.
    • Designing a solar powered ultraviolet water purification system for the developing world.
  • We have removed the obligation to carry out a risk assessment. This criterion is now at the school’s discretion, depending on the nature of the candidate’s project.
  • You told us the presentation can be stressful for some students. Our International EPQ still allows your students to present their findings in the language of their choice, provided they provide us with the transcript and all supporting documentation in English. We believe that this option ensures all students can convey fully their passion for their chosen topic.

For more information, you can read the blog post or watch the webinar about the changes to this qualification.

The International EPQ is a live qualification. All changes apply now and to any student submission from March 2024 onwards.

Watch the video to find out more
International EPQ is recognised by the world’s top universities
“The University recognises that the OxfordAQA IPQ [now EPQ] will provide an applicant with the opportunity to develop research and academic skills relevant for study at Oxford. Candidates are encouraged to draw upon relevant project experience when writing their personal statement.”
University of Oxford, 2023
The Extended Project Qualification provides an excellent opportunity for students to develop the kinds of research and academic skills demanded by the rigours of Higher Education.
University of Southampton
Develop teacher expertise through project-based learning

As an internally assessed qualification, the International EPQ develops and recognises the skills students need to progress and supports teachers to teach and assess those skills.

This provides an opportunity for teachers to deepen their expertise in assessing project-based learning which can contribute significantly to their ongoing CPD. It is supported throughout by high quality training, from orientation to standardisation, provided by OxfordAQA.

Another advantage of this approach compared with external assessment is that it gives teachers greater flexibility when supporting students. For example, if the student’s project does not meet the required standards, the teacher and student can decide to withdraw entry or defer until another series.

In addition to this, the International EPQ does not require external approval of project titles. We believe that approving titles de-professionalises teachers. Instead, we support teachers to have a dialogue with students, so that they can arrive at an appropriate title that will allow the student to demonstrate their knowledge and skill.

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International EPQ
Course specification
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