Extended Project Qualification (EPQ)

The Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) is designed to develop learners’ critical, reflective, problem-solving and independent learning skills, and supports pupils with the transition to higher education or the world of work. The EPQ is a unique study programme for which the learning material is entirely pupil selected and developed.

The pupil selects a topic in which they have a particular interest or passion, which will develop their skills, knowledge and understanding. It could be an in-depth review of a historical issue or the creation of a website. Pupils are assessed on their ability to plan, manage, complete and review their project. 

Structure of the Programme

The course is taught across three terms from Spring term of Year 12, with projects submitted for moderation in January of Year 13. Pupils studying the EPQ complete a course of 25 live lessons across three academic terms and additionally commit to spending 40-80 hours to complete their project. 

The live lessons on this elective course guide pupils through the skills needed to plan, execute and evaluate their projects, including research skills, project management skills and presentation skills. Pupils are allocated a project mentor and are required to meet regularly with their mentor to track and support progress with their project. Pupils select a project topic which expands their learning in their field of study, in a related area, or an area that is relevant to their own personal interests. Pupils are assessed on their ability to plan, manage, complete and review their project.  

There are four paths in the EPQ, of which a pupil may select only one. Each unit is equally weighted. Final course grades are assessed by the Teacher responsible for the EPQ at the School. 

Unit 1 – Dissertation 

  • A theoretical written project on any topic presenting an argument, e.g. research into a biological, historical or environmental issue. 

Unit 2 – Investigation/ Field Study 

  • A practical investigatory project involving the collection of data, e.g. a scientific investigation, a geographical study of erosion, a biological study of pollution, a statistical survey. 

Unit 3 – Performance 

  • Development of practical skills resulting in a performance, e.g. performing music, drama, sport. 

Unit 4 – Artefact 

  • For example, making a painting or sculpture, designing a piece of furniture or a garment, creating a website, solving an engineering/construction problem, producing a piece of graphic design. 

University Acceptance

The EPQ allows you to develop essential skills which will benefit you at university and in your future careers. Due to the EPQ’s intensive requirement for independent learning, critical thinking, evaluation and enquiry, pupils with an Extended Project Qualification are held in high regard by universities and future employers. In some cases, admissions tutors may make a reduced offer to applicants that involves successful completion of the Extended Project. Pupils can draw upon their experience of undertaking the project when writing their personal statement, and a successfully completed Extended Project is often taken into account if a pupil narrowly misses the grades outlined in a university offer to them. 

Universities have said: 

“We welcome the Extended Project and would encourage applicants to undertake one as it will help to develop independent study and research skills valuable for higher education.”

 (University of Cambridge) 

“Durham University sees the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) as a valuable addition to A-levels or alternative post-16 qualifications. As a research intensive University, Durham supports the skills that the EPQ helps to develop and sees them as beneficial to improving transition from year 13 to Higher Education.”  

(Durham University) 

“Applicants who take the EPQ and meet our offer criteria will be made two offers: the standard offer for their programme of choice; and an alternative offer which will be one grade lower plus a grade A in the EPQ.”  

(University of Birmingham) 


Full-time pupils

Pupils on our standard full-time programme are automatically eligible to enrol on our EPQ as part of their course of studies. The School's Success Coach collates interest in the programme in the Autumn Term of Year 12, prior to starting the following January. 

Individual A Level pupils

Pupils on the Individual A Level programme who opt-in for the enrichment programme will be automatically eligible to participate in the programme. 

Pupils who have not previously opted-in for the enrichment programme who wish to join the programme are encouraged to contact the Admissions Department to discuss joining the course. We are usually able to honour this request, provided the pupil is on-track with their studies and is not over-stretched with commitments elsewhere. 

Prospective Pupils: joining the EPQ prior to commencement of studies

Pupils who are considering joining Harrow School Online may join the EPQ programme in the January prior to their joining the School and take the Extended Project Qualification alongside current Year 12 pupils. For example, pupils considering joining the school in September 2021, may join the programme in January 2021. 

Please note that we require pupils to be have accepted a place on either our Full-time or Individual A Level programme prior to joining. For further information, see our application process here and access the application form here.

Studying the EPQ prior to commencement of studies is a recommended method of easing the transition into full-time online learning, familiarising pupils with our teaching and learning methodology. We particularly encourage this course of action for pupils who are re-starting Year 12 with us after a break in study, or for pupils who are currently fully or partially in home-school education.

Learn more about this option by contacting our admissions team

Prospective Pupils: studying the EPQ as a standalone option

Pupils currently in Year 11 or Year 12 may apply to study the EPQ as a standalone option, without otherwise participating in the school's Sixth Form programme. 

This option may be suitable if a pupil's current school does not offer an EPQ, the pupil is currently home-schooled or wishes to improve their chances of being admitted into a top university. Admissions will be into the Spring Term and last three terms (until the end of the Autumn Term). 

Learn more about this option by contacting our admissions team or start an application here