The Extended Essay

The Extended Essay
~ A User’s Guide for Palmer IB Diploma Students ~
Published April 2015 for the May 2016 Exam Session.
You will need this next year and will not be provided with another hard copy!
If you lose this, you will need to print out a copy from the Palmer IB website.
Palmer timeline, products, and deadlines
Subject Selection
Previous Titles by Palmer Students
Process Steps
Name _____________________________
In addition to this material, there is one other document you need: The Extended Essay Guide.
There you will find assessment criteria and specific guidelines for each IB-approved Subject (e.g.,
History, Biology, etc.), among other things. The document is posted on the Palmer IB website.
The Extended Essay
~ FAQ’s
What is it? “The extended essay is an in-depth study of a focused topic chosen from the list of approved
Diploma Programme subjects—normally one of the student’s six chosen subjects for the IB diploma. It is
intended to promote high-level research and writing skills, intellectual discovery and creativity. It provides
students with an opportunity to engage in personal research in a topic of their own choice, under the
guidance of a supervisor (a teacher in the school). This leads to a major piece of formally presented,
structured writing, in which ideas and findings are communicated in a reasoned and coherent manner,
appropriate to the subject chosen” (EE Guide, p. 2). The essay may not be longer than 4000 words. A good
minimum is 3500.
When is the final version of the essay due? Right after winter break, senior year.
How much does it count? Together with your performance in TOK, the EE can earn you an additional 3 points
towards the 24 needed for the Diploma. If you receive an “Elementary” mark on your EE (the lowest of five
marks), then you are ineligible for the Diploma, regardless of how you do in your IB courses.
How do I pick a topic? Start first with the list of IB-approved Subjects. You may write an essay ONLY in
subjects (courses) you have studied in IB with a very few exceptions. (A list is provided later in this packet.)
Interdisciplinary approaches don’t work – except in the subject called “World Studies” (see details under that
heading.) Then determine a preliminary Research Question that targets a specific and limited Topic within
that subject. Finally: You cannot duplicate IB-required work from other courses as your IA – e.g., your
Historical Investigation, Math Studies Project, Psychology Experiment, etc.
What is a supervisor and how do I get one? IB requires that each student have a supervisor who is a Palmer
faculty member (not necessarily an IB teacher). According to IB, “The supervisor must have appropriate
qualifications and experience in the subject chosen by the student…” The supervisor provides advice during
this process. Approach a teacher soon to make an appointment to discuss your proposal (details in packet) if
he or she will be your supervisor. Don’t delay. Teachers are not expected to supervise more than five EE’s,
and many run out of slots quickly.
How many times do I meet with my supervisor? You must connect five times, as follows: 1. To present and
discuss a formal, written proposal with a supervisor who must approve your subject, topic, preliminary
research question and reading list (April/May of junior year). 2. To review your summer research and
annotated bibliography, and to confirm your research question (first two weeks of school, senior year). 3. To
review your thesis and sentence outline (September, senior year). 4. To review a complete draft (early
second quarter of senior year). 5. To reflect on your process and results after your final version is submitted
(February of senior year).
How long am I expected to spend on it? “[A]pproximately 40 hours of work” (EE Guide, p. 3).
What happens if I don’t do it? If you don’t submit an acceptable outline or rough draft by the stated
deadlines, you will be scheduled out of the IB program. No matter how well you do in your courses, failure to
complete an Extended Essay is a “failing condition,” meaning that you cannot earn an IB Diploma no matter
how well you do in your individual classes. Since IB at Palmer is “Diploma only,” you may not remain in IB
classes if it becomes apparent that you are no longer interested in or eligible to seek the Diploma.
The Extended Essay
The Palmer Timeline
Process: What should I be
Date or Timeframe doing?
Learn about EE basics
4 quarter, junior 1. Consult the EE Guide.
2. Select an IB-approved subject.
Product: What is due?
Only your attention
Find a Palmer teacher to serve
as your supervisor.
4. Consult with your supervisor
about your topic and research
question (narrowed focus).
5. Identify research sources.
Who gets this?
The IB Coordinator
There are no formal deadlines until May (see next step below),
Fri., May 15
Turn in: Formal proposal (signed by supervisor)
Summer between
junior and senior
Conduct your research,
collecting additional sources
as needed.
Take notes.
Develop a preliminary thesis
(answer to your research
Mrs. Kelly, IB Office
Nothing is due during the summer. However, you will need to
present to your supervisor an annotated bibliography of 15
high quality sources during your check-in meeting (see next
Aug 18-28
If you did not do so during the summer, meet once with your
supervisor for a progress check. Be prepared to discuss your summer
reading in depth, to go over your bibliography, and to confirm that
you have a research question appropriate to the IB subject. Turn in:
signed documentation of this meeting to TOK teacher
Supervisor / TOK
Tue., Sep 8
Turn in 2-3 page sentence outline & bibliography
TOK teacher, then your
First quarter,
senior year
Tues., Oct 20
Upload 3000-word (minimum) draft
Meet with your supervisor
following the submission of
your outline to plan next steps
2. Draft essay
No formal deadlines here, but your supervisor may
recommend additional conferences.
Meet with your supervisor following the submission of your draft
to plan revisions.
2. Revise and finalize essay
Your supervisor
Wed., Jan 6
Submit final version of EE in TOK (IB may also require
electronic uploading)
TOK teacher
Early February
Schedule and conduct your concluding interview
Your supervisor
Second quarter,
senior year
Process Step: Subject Selection
Group 1: English Language and Literature (solid choice)
Group 2: Language Acquisition – must be written in the language, e.g., Spanish, French, Chinese (possible,
not recommended: you should only consider this Subject if you are a very strong language
student – i.e., consistently earn A’s)
NOTE: Group 1 and Group 2 essays can be written in one of three categories that range from literary
analysis, to language, to culture. Be sure to see the relevant pages in the EE guide, as the
requirements are very precise. Failure to follow them will lead to a poor EE.
Biology (good choice if strong in HL bio)
Business and management
Chemistry (good choice if strong in HL chem)
Classical Greek and Latin
Computer science (must have completed course
as a junior and have strong skills)
Dance (possible, not recommended – see below)
Design technology
Environmental systems & societies (good choice –
see below)
Film (possible – see below)
Geography (not recommended – see below)
History (solid choice)
Human rights (not recommended – see below))
Information technology in a global society
(possible – see below)
Literature and performance (possible – see below)
Mathematics (possible if strong in HL math)
Music (possible – see below)
Peace and conflict studies (solid choice)
Physics (not allowed – students do not have
sufficient background this session)
Politics (not recommended – see below)
Psychology (solid choice)
Social anthropology
Sports, exercise, and health science (possible – see
Theatre arts (possible – see below)
Visual arts (solid choice if in SL/HL art)
World religion (possible – see below)
World studies (good choice – interdisciplinary –
see below)
You may not write an Essay in an IB subject that is crossed out. These are highly specialized fields that
definitely require experience in an IB course to have any chance of success.
You may not write an Essay in a subject you have not taken at Palmer, with the following exceptions:
Environmental systems & societies: If you took ESS in your junior year, this is a very solid choice, of
course. If you are taking it your senior year, and you are also strong in biology or chemistry, you
could select this subject. But plan on some significant time with a suitable supervisor this spring to
make sure you have the environmental background and an acceptable research question.
Geography, Human Rights, Politics: These are subjects where mastery of a complex conceptual
framework is required. A strong, highly motivated student could probably make it work, but you
need to be ready to teach yourself the theory. Palmer students electing to write in these subjects
have typically struggled and earned low marks – though a few have done okay (e.g., “C’s”).
Information technology in a global society: A student with a strong background / interest in
technology (not necessarily computers) could make this subject work.
Dance, Film, Literature and performance, Music, Theatre Arts: Students coming in with strong
backgrounds (e.g., formal training, extensive experience) in these subjects who are highly motivated
could make these essays work if they select a suitable approach.
Sports, exercise, and health science: This subject combines aspects of anatomy and physiology with
sports and exercise. It is definitely a science subject. A student who is strong in biology and/or who
completed anatomy could make this subject work, but selecting the right topic will be essential.
World Religions: A strong English or history student could make this work, but read the SubjectSpecific Details carefully. This is most definitely not a paper where you would discuss your personal
beliefs or criticize/evangelize about your or others’ religions. We have had reasonable success in the
past at Palmer when students have come into the process with fairly detailed prior knowledge about
religion and/or a genuine and substantial curiosity.
NOTE: All of these subjects have their own official IB Subject Guides which you MUST read. These are
separate from the 3-5 page Subject-Specific Details offered in the EE Guide. These are the extensive
curriculum guides that teachers follow to deliver these courses, with all the aims/objectives, syllabus
points, etc. You can get these from Mr. Kern. Remember: IB strongly advises you to write an Extended
Essay in a subject that you have formally studied in the Diploma program.
Special situations
Computer science. Writing a decent Extended Essay in this area is challenging. You must have
completed the SL course at Palmer in your junior year. You should have strong skills in this subject as
evidenced by A’s or B’s at the semester with the expectation of receiving at least a 4 (preferably a 5
or better) on the IB exam.
World Studies. This is a relatively new offering for IB, but getting the focus right can be very tricky!
From the EE Subject Guide:
An extended essay in world studies provides students with an opportunity to undertake an in-depth,
interdisciplinary study of an issue of contemporary global significance. Students should choose to
explore a topic from one of the following global themes:
Language, culture and identity
Science, technology and society
Equality and inequality
Conflict, peace and security
Economic and/or
environmental sustainability
Health and development
World studies extended essays may examine issues such as the global food crisis, climate change,
terrorism, energy security, migration, and global health, technology and cultural exchange. Global
issues of this nature play out in local contexts—a zero-carbon-footprint city policy in Denmark; a new
clean energy technology used by a village in India; the education of migrant children in two
contrasting frontier towns. An in-depth examination of local instances of globally significant
phenomena provides opportunities for a well-grounded appreciation and understanding of the issue
under study.
The Extended Essay
Previous Titles by Palmer Students
Group 1 (English Language and Literature)
Deserts and Wastelands: Essential Motifs in Early
Modernist Poetry
1974: The End of Minimalism in Modern Music
Peace and conflict studies
Group 2 (Languages B)
Molière et la Farce: Sa Méthode Préféré d’Ecrire
Political Deadlock: The Struggle between the State
Peace and Development Council and the National
League for Democracy for Control of the Government
of Myanmar
The Analysis of the Human Mitochondrial DNA and its
Applications in the Search for Human Origins
Aerodynamic Effects of Up-Turned and Down-Turned
Tip Caps
The Comparison of Various Types of Teas through the
Extraction of Caffeine
Towards Wholeness: How does Piaget’s theory of
developmental stages of learning provide for a defense
of art education in public schools?
Computer science
Nueral Networks and Artificial Intelligence: An Analysis
and Comparison of Hebbian and Self-Organizing Maps
in Relation to the Creation of an Artifically Intelligent
Theatre arts
Methods in Madness: How and why have portrayals of
Hamlet changed through the ages?
Environmental systems
Blasted Legacies: How should we manage the the
ecological impact of nuclear weapons testing on the
American Southwest?
Visual arts
Collisions at the Intersection of Art and Politics: What
are the qualities of an effective editorial cartoon?
World religions
A Comparison of Virginia McClurg’s and Anna
Dickinson’s Tactics in the Late 1800s and their
Involvement in the Women’s Suffrage Movement
Spiritual Intersections: What do the common factors of
mysticism in the Christian Desert Fathers, Zen
Buddhism, and Islamic Sufism reveal about conceptions
of ultimate reality?
Applications of Quaternions in Three-Dimensional
TIP: Unsure about a Subject? See Ms. Kelly in the main office to check out some Essays by Palmer
students during the past few years that have received high marks from IB. We have papers in all of
the most commonly selected Subject areas. You can also see Mr. Kern for some model essays supplied
digitally by IB which earned high marks. Bring a thumb drive with you to save a copy.
PROCESS STEP: Research over the summer
As an MYP student, you engaged in several different long-term projects, essays, and presentations that required formal
research. You will need all of those skills are you conduct your research. Make sure you are using only reliable,
authoritative sources. Be ready to “let go” of sources that are not helpful. Develop an approach to note-taking that
allows you to keep track of your sources and avoid plagiarism. Be open to adjusting your research question as you go:
typically, research questions narrow and get more focused as you learn more about your subject.
Your supervisor may encourage you to be in touch via email, phone, etc., over the summer – but supervisors are NOT
required to be available. Make sure that you a good understanding of whether summer contact will occur.
PROCESS STEP: Annotated bibliography and check-in conference
As noted earlier in this packet, you are expected to meet with your supervisor sometime during the first two weeks of
school. Bring to the meeting an annotated bibliography that contains least fifteen quality sources. This will almost
certainly NOT be your final number of sources. Most successful EE’s, depending on approach, have between 15 and 20
high-quality sources.
o NONE of these sources may be Wikipedia,,, or other generic internet sources.
These are absolutely unacceptable when it comes to formal academic writing.
o Put your bibliography is a recognized standard format appropriate to your chosen subject – APA, MLA,
Chicago style, etc.
The main purpose of your meeting is to discuss your summer reading and to make sure you have a workable, focused
research question that fits clearly within your IB Subject (English, biology, psychology, etc.). It is quite likely that your
research question will need revision from what you submitted back in May.
PROCESS STEP: Sentence outline
Instructions: The required documentation for this work is a 2-3 page sentence and bibliography (but you may omit
annotations from this). This will be due, in hard copy, in TOK (see Palmer Deadlines on p. 3 of this packet). Here are the
specific requirements:
Begin by listing your IB Subject, your focused topic, and your research question. Include in your heading your EE
Next is the sentence outline. Note those words! To receive credit, this MUST be a sentence (with one exception, see
below) outline in standard format. No bullets!
o Use Roman numerals for major sections of your paper. Entries at this level are the ONLY exception to the
complete sentence requirement. For this entry, you may write a question or a phrase that indicates the
general focus of this section of your paper.
o Use capital letters for topic sentences for each paragraph.
o Use numerals for main supporting ideas and/or examples.
o Indent to show the subordination of entries.
o You do not need to outline your introduction or conclusion.
o DO NOT INCLUDE EXTENSIVE QUOTATIONS FROM YOUR SOURCES. This outline is showing the main sections,
key ideas, and summaries of supporting examples.
Finally, the annotated bibliography, as follows:
The model on the following page should serve as a guide. To save space here, this is single-spaced. If it were doublespaced, it would be 2-3 pages. Your supervisor will find it easier to read if you use 1.5 or 2.0 spacing.
IB Subject: Human Rights
TOPIC: The fight over same sex marriage in the American states
My Name
Supervisor’s Name
RESEARCH QUESTION: On what basis should same-sex marriage be considered a universal human right?
I. What is meant by a fundamental human right?
A. There have been numerous attempts in law and philosophy to offer theories and lists of human rights.
1. Generally, attempts offer a theory of origin: God-given or natural
2. Theories often focus on power relationships: in effect, those in power get to decide who has rights.
B. The UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a well-known effort to codify rights that should be
available to all people simply based on their shared humanity.
C. The Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution is another attempt to universalize rights.
II. Opposition to same-sex marriage: traditional definitions and Biblical values
A. In the U.S, political and religious conservatives typically oppose same-sex-marriage.
1. Conservative religious opposition is based on a particular interpretation of the will of God – that God
allows marriage only between one man and one woman.
2. Both conservative Protestant and Catholic readings of the Bible are often the basis for political
B. Opposition is not always explicitly religious, but many federal and state laws in recent decades endorse the
view that marriage is for heterosexual couples only.
1. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was passed on September 21, 1996 and signed into federal law
by President Clinton.
2. Conservative majorities in many states have been successful in banning same sex marriage or
amending state constitutions to include traditional (heterosexual) definitions of marriage.
III. Marriage Equality: the evolution of a universal human right
A. Many progressive Christians and Jews support same sex marriage based on a different interpretation of the
1. Such beliefs stem from the view that the Bible is not always meant to be taken literally, is not
infalliable, and must be interpreted in light of modern, scientific findings.
2. The central values of love, mercy, inclusion, and dignity are emphasized by progressive religious
B. Politicians on the left have also evolved.
1. President Barack Obama expressed his support for same-sex marriage in 2012 after previously
opposing it.
2. The repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell policy was seen as a victory for progressive views.
3. The Democrats included a “Freedom to Marry” section in their platform in 2012.
C. The appeal to the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause is at the heart of the Human Rights Campaign.
IV. A possible way forward: what science is telling us
A. It may be possible to form a theory of human rights on what is “natural” from a scientific perspective rather
than basing a theory on political or religious ideology.
1. In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from the Diagnostic and
Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
2. Many researchers now believe that genetic heredity plays a role in homosexuality.
3. If sexual orientation is to some extent inherited, then perhaps it falls within the range of a normal
continuum of human sexual expression.
B. There is still not consensus on the relationship between nurture (environment, upbringing) and nature (genes,
brain development) regarding sexuality, but if homosexuality is not really a “choice” or a “life style,” then not to
allow gays and lesbians to marry as heterosexuals can is discrimination and a violation of human rights.
IB Diploma Program
Extended Essay Proposal: MODEL
Your typed proposal should include this information and follow this format. Bring the proposal to the meeting with the faculty
member you’d like to work with (must be Palmer faculty – but not necessarily IB). You may also email the proposal ahead of time.
Name: Jane Doe
IB Subject: Group 1 / English (Literature)
Explain why you think you will be successful writing an EE in this IB subject?
I have always been a pretty good English student. The kind of work we have often done in English classes – reading fiction, poetry, and drama, and
analyzing it – is of interest to me. Also, I am thinking I will probably study literature in college, perhaps even majoring in it, so this will give me good
experience in advance of that.
What will be your topic within this subject? Why are you interested in it? Why do you care about it?
I propose to explore the Vietnam War novels of Tim O’Brien. When I first read The Things They Carried, it struck me as a very unusual and original
novel. I found his blending of fiction and non-fiction interesting – though at times a little confusing and even frustrating, but it was hard to put
down. I also enjoyed the vividness of his characters and the simplicity and power of his descriptive language. Finally, the novel’s structure (is it one
full length novel or a collection of short stories?) seems unique. It makes it possible to appreciate the book as a whole and its individual parts.
Finally, my family has military veterans in it, with two older members having served in Vietnam, so I found that reading about the soldier’s
experience provided me some insight into their experiences that I didn’t have since they’ve never talked about it. I do not know any of O’Brien’s
other novels, but I have read a little bit about them and think they will be comparable.
What is your preliminary research question? (Note: This must be “arguable” and “research-able” under your IB subject. It
cannot be merely descriptive, narrative, etc. Of course, it may well change as you do more reading, researching, etc.)
How, why, and to what effect does Tim O’Brien blend fiction and nonfiction techniques in The Things They Carried, If I Die in a
Combat Zone, and In the Lake of the Woods?
What specific support do you anticipate needing from your supervisor?
I feel confident in my ability to read these additional books on my own, but I will need some help developing a workable thesis and making sure I
have a good number of secondary sources as I have never really written a literary research paper before that used the opinions critics. As I get
more into this, I think I will also need some guidance about whether I should analyze all three of the novels listed or just two of them.
What preliminary sources will you consult? (NOTE: At this stage, you must list five sources in standard bibliographic form that
seem promising – you need not have read them yet. You must have fifteen by the time your sentence outline is due in September.
NONE of these may be Wikipedia,,, or similarly generic internet sources.)
Bates, Milton J. Tim O'Brien's Myth of Courage. MFS Modern Fiction Studies 33, 2 (Summer 1987) pp 129-55.
O’Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried. New York: Houghton Mifflin. 1991.
Wesley, Marilyn. "Truth and Fiction in Tim O'Brien's If I Die in a Combat Zone and The Things They Carried." College Literature 29, 2. (2002) pp 1-18.
Etc… [two more required for a total of five for your proposal – with this model, the additional two would be the other O’Brien books]
RE-TYPE THIS (or copy and paste from the electronic version) AND SIGN: I understand that in order to continue in the second year
of the Diploma Program, I must complete the process steps as described in the EE packet. I understand that plagiarism (or other
forms of “academic malpractice”) of the essay will result in my ineligibility to earn the IB Diploma. I understand that it is a
requirement to meet with my supervisor as noted in this packet and that failure to do so will jeopardize my continuation in IB.
DUE: May 15, to Mrs. Kelly, IB Secretary.
Signature of candidate
The following teacher has agreed to be my EE Supervisor: ___________________________________________
Signature of Supervisor
RE-TYPE THIS AND ASK SUPERVISOR TO SIGN: My signature indicates that I will accept this student and that I believe that I “have
appropriate qualifications and/or experience in the subject chosen by the student…” (EE Guide).