Guidance for students

Welcome to the Pearson Edexcel Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) student landing page. This page is designed to help you, the student, explore the opportunities available through an EPQ, and support you through the journey to completing your self directed assignment. Add this page as a bookmark, and visit it regularly to keep up to date with the latest information and guidance.

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What will you find here?

This page will provide regularly updated support designed for students studying the EPQ. Here is where you will be able to find information and links to:

  1. Easy to follow guidance on progress through the entire EPQ.
  2. Key information to help you shape your project.
  3. Inspiration relating to “trending” sectors.
  4. How to complete the EPQ through a competition or national programme.
  5. Deadlines to know.
  6. What leading universities say about EPQ.
  7. Where to find help or ask questions.

Easy to follow guidance for EPQ students

Once you have decided to pick up the EPQ, and your teacher and school know you are, it is time to start. Your school may provide a structured series of lessons or drop in sessions to help you, but it is useful to know what you need to do first, and how to start making progress against the many milestones you will pass on your way to completing your project. Below is a simple step by step you can refer to, mapped against the assessment objectives (AOs) of the course, and includes where your work will match to the marks available for each section.

Step 1: Download a copy of the Activity Log. This is a key document you will use to tell the story of your project to assessors. Here is a completed example.

Step 2: Create a “working” title. A title that is “working” will change and evolve over time, so try not to worry too much about getting it right and delaying yourself from getting started. Depending on which unit you choose, your working title should be written as follows:

Unit 1 Dissertation = A question that is clear and specific, with room for argument or counter-argument (e.g. ‘Should young teenagers be banned from social media?’)

Unit 2 Field Study/Investigation = A hypothesis you can test (e.g. ‘Is increased use of social media associated with poorer mental health amongst young teenagers?’”

Unit 3 Performance = A commission brief (e.g. ‘Make a video for a teenage audience on how to learn to play the electric guitar’)

Unit 4 Artefact = A design brief (e.g. ‘Design a child’s go-kart with only reused materials’)

Step 3: Start researching your project. This could include some wider reading and some deeper research, which will tell you if the area you have chosen is a good one or not (if there are lots of sources of information about your area of interest, this is a good sign to keep going). If you very quickly struggle to find information about your area, you should consider going back to your working title and changing it.

Step 4: Fill in your Project Proposal form for your unit approach (Dissertation, Investigation, Performance, Artefact), If all the signs are that you have an interesting area to explore, you can complete the proposal form which includes coming up with a set of objectives, describing the reasons for your project, the stages you believe you will go through, the timescales you are going to work to, and any resources you believe you will need. Here is a completed example.

Benchmark – By completing steps 1-4, you are building up the evidence you need to meet AO1 Project Management, which is worth 9 marks.

Step 5: Start your research, document it as you progress, and save information relating to where you sourced this information.
Many students create a research plan, with a series of headings and sub-headings covering all the different elements of your project where you need to carry out research to best inform you.
It is important, irrespective of your chosen unit approach, to save and record the sources of your research. Formal referencing guidance can provide a structure to this which is appropriate and used for higher education study, and therefore good practice to use within your EPQ.
Tip: Using “questions” within your research plan can help you keep focused on what you need to find out.

Unit 1 Dissertation = Research can be digital or physical sources, and can build a research “story” that you can articulate as part of your project. This supports the reader and makes understanding and critique of your writing easier. Consider useful strategies such as:

  • linking the sources you read to your projects’ working title
  • evaluating the quality of the sources you find (trustworthy and reliable to reference?)
  • questioning if sources provide facts or opinions
  • explaining sources in your own word.

Unit 2 Field Study/Investigation = Existing research that will be of particular interest to you will be sources with secondary data sets, but you will largely be interested in collecting your own valid data using methods that are authentic and will help you to support a judgement, form an opinion, or defend an argument.

Unit 3 Performance = Part of how students will likely approach performance related research will be to look at specific genres that relates to your area of interest (e.g. documentary film-making). It is common to use a digital presentation slide deck to capture information and materials, which will include text, image, audio and video.
Sources of useful information could come from:

  • working professionals as inspiration
  • the work of others including collections or productions
  • exhibitions or showcases of creative work
  • exploration of an individual’s creative process, technique or approach.

Unit 4 Artefact = In order to approach creative projects in this unit authentically, mediums such as a physical sketchbook or digital presentation slide deck are suitable to collate and organise your research. This will support visual and written evidence collation, including citations, text, live weblinks, and include audio and/or video.

Benchmark – By completing step 5 you are building up the evidence you need to meet AO2 Research, which is worth 12 marks.


Step 6: Developing your project response, is where significant “doing” happens within the EPQ, whether you are writing, analysing, curating or making. Here is unit by unit advice for this section:

Unit 1 Dissertation = It is a good approach to plan your discussion before committing to writing it. For dissertation, the activity usually involves developing arguments based upon your research, and defending your point of view. To do this well, you need to base your argument on evidence from your research. Strong discussions can include:

  • citations
  • facts
  • quotations
  • data that forms the basis of an argument
  • consideration of arguments and counter arguments
  • alternative interpretations.

Unit 2 Field Study/Investigation = Using a considerable body of data, you will need to conduct stages of analysis of what you have collected. This might include:

  • questioning the best interpretations of your findings
  • reflecting on whether the data and findings supports your hypothesis
  • building arguments using the numbers, graphs and statistics generated from your data
  • identifying patterns and priorities within the data.

Unit 3 Performance = Based upon the commission brief you started with, it is important to now deliver upon that commission by considering what is expected.

  • Will you perform to an audience?
  • What effect to you want to have on those watching?
  • How will you know what impact the performance has had?

Unit 4 Artefact = Based upon the design brief you started with, it is important to creatively and iteratively arrive at the final made outcomes. Some of the typical steps this might involve include:

  • developing a wide range of solutions to part or the whole outcome
  • experimenting with ideas that could all achieve the intended aim
  • test and trial different options
  • a process of learning through multiple failures, each leading to iterations and improvements
  • returning to find new sources of information that supports ongoing refinement
  • explore ways to arrive at innovative new solutions over existing solutions
  • - ensure the artefact will need the need described in the brief.

Benchmark – By completing step 6 you are building up the evidence you need to meet AO3 Development and Realization, which is worth 24 marks.

You are now at the point of wrapping up and finishing your project, which will require you to review the whole project process, and require you to include a detailed bibliography of all of your sources of information.

Reviewing such a large project can be complicated for a reader, so it can help to “set the scene” by pulling together the key points of your project. These will include:

  • what your project was about
  • the key terms
  • an overview of what you were exploring
  • For unit 1 and 2, given the significant written body of evidence, an abstract which covers the aims of the project, arguments and conclusions is advised.

Consider what you will review in order to complete your project, and how you will make this project accessible to the reader to understand, enjoy, and build a judgement for the purpose of assessment. Questions that may be relevant to consider for your EPQ are:

  • Is my project clear and concise?
  • Will my project be enjoyable to read?
  • Have I built relevant arguments?
  • Do I explain myself clearly throughout?
  • Are what I included as sources of information all relevant?
  • Do I explain the stages or steps of my project well?

If you are unsure about the quality of your project, it is worth reviewing the wide range of exemplars for your chosen unit approach in the Teaching and Learning materials section of the Pearson Edexcel website, under the heading Exemplar Material.

As part of the EPQ, you are required to present your project to an audience, and your assessor will complete an observation record form for you. The presentation will last no more than 10 minutes, and will need to cover the following:

  • An introduction to explain what your project was about.
  • A summary of the research you did and main ideas.
  • Arguments you explored/creative approaches you explored.
  • A story about your project and your reflections.
  • Did you meet your aims, what would you have done differently, what are the lessons you learnt.

Key information to help you shape your project:

  • You have 120 hours within which to complete your EPQ.
  • You have four unit approaches to choose from.
  • Your teacher will provide mentor support throughout the project.
  • You will need to deliver a 10 minute presentation at the end.
  • The title or area choice is completely up to you.
  • You can have your work assessed in January or June of Year 12 or 13.
  • The grade you receive is worth up to 28 UCAS points.
  • Universities value the EPQ, either at interview, through lower conditional offers, or when choosing students in a competitive field.
  • An EPQ can help you stand out from the crowd, realise a passion, help you on a particular career path, or reward you for something you are already passionate about doing.

At Pearson Edexcel, we want to help students work on projects that mean something. Our pathway materials provides trending sector, competition, and established national programme information, if you want to complete an EPQ in any of these areas. 

Whilst you can elect to start an EPQ at any time, or you might start the EPQ as part of a structured course at your school or college, there are some key deadlines you need to know:

January series submission
Your centre will register you in mid October.
You centre will submit your assessed work for moderation by the 10th of January.
You will receive your grade in March.

June series submission
Your centre will register you by late February.
Your centre will submit your assessed work for moderation by the 15th of May.
You will receive your grade in August.

During the two years of sixthform, you can start your EPQ at any time, and once you have completed your project and the required hours (120), you are ready to submit your project for marking by your teacher. This means you could start the EPQ and complete it in Year 12, or work on it for a longer period and complete it in Year 13. If you are keen to use your EPQ grade as evidence towards a UCAS application, it can be beneficial to have a grade prior to application at the start of Year 13, rather than a predicted grade, although universities account for the predicted grade in the same way when considering the strength of your application.

Below are links to external websites that talk about studying for an EPQ, its value, and some advice.