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IB Extended Essay General Guide: Subject Guides

A starting place for all Extended Essay students

On this page you will find links to all the IB EE Subject Guides and also to our LibGuides sites that support each of these subjects. These LibGuides will provide you with subject-specific resources not only to support you through your EE but also any other inquiry-based work, such as IAs.

Ethical guidelines

You must address the IB ethical guidelines in your Research Proposal and follow them throughout the EE process. Some Subject Guides will contain specific ethical guidelines for that subject, but here are some general guides you might need to refer to.

Subject guides

"An extended essay (EE) in studies in language and literature gives students an opportunity to undertake independent research into a topic of special interest to them within the subject. It is intended to promote advanced research and writing skills, intellectual discovery and creativity. The essay is open to students who are writing in a language that they would be capable of offering as a language A. It must be written in the language for which it is registered. Students must not submit a group 1 EE in their group 2 language. Studies in language and literature EEs are divided into three categories:

  • Category 1 Studies of one or more literary works originally written in the language in which the essay is presented.
  • Category 2 Studies of a literary work or works originally written in the language of the essay compared with one or more literary works originally written in another language. (The work originally written in another language may be studied in translation.)
  • Category 3 Studies in language based on one or more texts originally produced in the language in which the essay is presented.

Students and teachers must indicate at the point of upload which category of essay they are submitting."


MFL Books"An extended essay (EE) in language acquisition or classical languages gives students the opportunity to pursue their interest in language.

Students working on a language acquisition EE must demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the language, culture and society or literature studied. This understanding must be shown in the form of:

  • an analysis of a cultural context or a specific text OR
  • an analysis of trends in the culture studied and the impact of a cultural change on the form or use of the language OR
  • an analysis and comparison of literary texts.

For those undertaking a classical Greek or Latin EE, the focus is on demonstrating an understanding of a relevant or significant aspect of the language, literature and civilization of ancient Greece or Rome."


Note that although LibGuides have been created to potentially support ab initio Spanish and Italian students in other areas of their courses, you may not write your Extended Essay in a subject you are taking ab initio because the required depth is not possible at this level.

"An extended essay (EE) in individuals and societies is intended for students who are interested in undertaking research in an area of business management, economics, geography, global politics, history, ITGS, philosophy, psychology, social and cultural anthropology or world religions.

The individuals and societies EE is intended to encourage the systematic and critical study of:

  • human experience and behaviour
  • physical, economic and social environments
  • the history and development of social and cultural institutions.

Students’ choice of topic should enable them to recognize that the content and methodologies of the subjects are contestable and that their study requires critical thinking.

Students must have sufficient grounding in the subject under which they submit their essay: reading a textbook or consulting an encyclopedia while writing the EE will not compensate for a lack of proper background knowledge."

Note: The IB considers Environmental Systems and Societies EEs to be interdisciplinary, so materials for these can be found under the Interdisciplinary essays tab, above.


"An extended essay (EE) in the sciences gives students an opportunity to apply a range of skills while researching a topic of personal interest in the field. Students working on a science EE must demonstrate an in-depth analysis of the subject matter studied, be it biology, chemistry, computer science, design technology, physics or sports, exercise and health science. This understanding must be shown in the form of a research paper involving a wellformulated research question. Students should be advised that while there is overlap between the subjects, their study should reflect one specific science area. For example:

  • biology—dealing with living organisms and life processes
  • chemistry—dealing with the composition, characterization and transformation of substances

...The nature of the topic under investigation should be different for each subject area and students should be careful if they undertake essays that may blur the boundaries between two science subjects. For example, when studying the pH of a body of water, students may investigate the chemicals responsible for the observed pH (chemistry), or the effect of the pH on the biota (biology)."

Note: The IB considers Environmental Systems and Societies EEs to be interdisciplinary, so materials for these can be found under the Interdisciplinary essays tab, above.


 "Students must demonstrate an in-depth analysis of a question or problem that has a mathematical focus. This investigation might be, for example:

  • the applicability of mathematics to solve both real and abstract problems
  • the beauty of mathematics, as in, for instance, geometry or fractal theory
  • the elegance of mathematics in the proving of theorems as in, for example, number theory
  • the origin and subsequent development of a branch of mathematics over a period of time, measured in tens, hundreds or thousands of years
  • the links between different branches of mathematics, or the way that branch of mathematics has been born, or has flourished, as a result of technology.

Students should be advised on the importance of formulating logical and coherent reasons for selecting a particular topic for the EE, the need to identify a well-thought-out research question and the requirement to search for the mathematical problems that require a solution. Students must be advised that mathematical research is a long-term and open-ended exploration of a set of related mathematical problems that are based on personal observations. The answers to these problems connect to and build upon each other over time."


"An extended essay (EE) in the arts provides students with an opportunity to undertake an in-depth investigation into a topic of particular interest to them. Students working on an arts EE must demonstrate in-depth analysis of the subject matter studied, be it dance, film, music, theatre or visual arts. This understanding must be shown in the form of:

  • a coherent analysis and interpretation of their chosen area in relation to a posed research question
  • the testing and validation of the research and consideration of its effect on the practice of the investigated area of the arts
  • development and exploration in a disciplined and imaginative way of an area of study specifically appropriate to the curriculum area chosen
  • a link to a practical dimension.

Each subject area poses its own unique set of challenges. Therefore, the approach to the topic of investigation should reflect the particular methodology most appropriate to the arts subject being studied. Students should have logical and coherent reasons for selecting a particular topic for their essay, a well-thought out research question and an approach that allows them to develop a reasoned argument.

...While there may be overlap between the subjects in the arts and common approaches, the research topic must clearly relate to one specific arts area. If a student chooses a research area that blurs the boundaries between two arts subjects, they must ensure that their essay’s emphasis clearly lies within the arts subject for which they are submitting it. Crucially, the topic selected should reflect each student’s particular interest and enthusiasm within that subject area."


"An interdisciplinary extended essay (EE) gives students an opportunity to undertake an in-depth and independent investigation into a topic of their choice that considers the relationship between subjects and allows for meaningful connections to be made in relation to their chosen area of research.

For example, in literature and performance, students focus on the nature of the relationships that occur between a chosen text and its adaptation for performance; in world studies an issue of contemporary global significance is explored through the lenses of two subjects; and in environmental systems and societies the interaction and integration of natural environmental systems and human societies are explored

Students undertaking one of these options must demonstrate a solid understanding of their area of research, taking a fully integrated approach. This examination must be shown in the form of:

  • a coherently written and structured essay that effectively addresses an area of research, taking an interdisciplinary approach
  • bringing together concepts, methods and approaches from across different subjects
  • the development and exploration of an area of study specifically appropriate to the interdisciplinary choice

The most critical stage in preparing for the EE is the formulation of a logical and coherent rationale for selecting a particular topic for the extended essay, a topic that offers enough scope to provide material for a substantial essay, and the development of ideas around the topic and research question that examine existing views and argue against them."



We do not offer a separate LibGuide for World Studies, because this relates to a combination of two other DP subjects and you should consult the individual LibGuides for both of these. Before undertaking an EE in World Studies consider very carefully whether your topic would fit the requirements of a single subject discipline instead. It can be challenging to juggle the requirements of two different subjects while undertaking a piece of academic research like this for the first time, particularly if you do not currently study one or both of the subjects.

Note that the Treatment of the Topic section of the Subject Guide for World Studies says that:

"It is expected that students will have a good grounding in at least one of the Diploma Programme subjects used in the EE.

If they are unfamiliar with a discipline used, they must access its syllabus so that they can identify the concepts, terminology and modes of thinking required for their EE. (Many IB syllabuses contain lists of key concepts.)"

This means that whether or not you are currently studying either or both of the subject areas your World Studies EE is based in  you will need to use DP Level concepts, terminology and modes of thinking appropriate to both subject areas.


If you are interested in pursuing a World Studies EE you might find the excellent LibGuide produced by the library at West Sound Academy helpful. Please note, that this is an external source and we have no control over the content.

Normal term-time Library opening hours:
Mon-Fri: 08:30-21:15
Sat: 08:00-16:00
Sun: 14:00-18:00

If you have any comments, corrections or additions for this guide, or if you are having trouble accessing any of the materials, please contact Mrs Toerien. Please include the URL of the LibGuide you are referring to in your email.