Somerset Times

IB Diploma Matters – The Journey Begins and Ends

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Somerset Times Edition

Week 6, Term Three, 2020

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Term Three is about Extended Essay in the IB Diploma at Somerset. It’s when the Year 11s begin their journey and it’s when the 12s hand in their final pieces of work.

The Extended Essay is a major academic undertaking consisting of a 4000 word research essay conducted in a subject of the student’s choice. Within that subject they have free rein to explore and investigate a topic of their interest. They then design their own research question, begin researching and then write and edit a final essay The Year 11s start off with an Extended Essay Breakfast Launch in the Boardroom. Here they are asked to begin thinking about the journey ahead. They first pick a subject and then over the next few weeks hone in on a topic. They are then assigned a supervisor who will guide them through the process over the next year or so.

Year 11 IBDP students enjoying their EE launch breakfast

The students have already decided upon some interesting topics, such as:
• The concept of the American Dream in the novel The Valley of the Dolls (Literature)
• Factors that influence the health of gut flora (Biology)
• Political Philosophy and Feminism (Philosophy)
• The Anti-Hero in The Count of Monte Cristo (Literature)

As the Year 11s were deciding on their topics, the Year 12s were submitting their final Extended Essays. These are amazing pieces of work, in which the students really engage in depth with their chosen material.

Some of their essays had titles like:
Foreign Influences in Cambodia- A study of the impact foreign influences on the rise to power of the Khmer Rouge
A comparative analysis of different forms of lactase to determine the most effective and efficient lactase for lactose-intolerance for home use
To what extent do representations of politics, religion and sex contribute to the craft of storytelling as an agent of change within the literary works, God Dies by the Nile and The Handmaid’s Tale?
A study of leitmotifs in the musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

As you can see from these titles, this is a robust and challenging task – these students will certainly find writing 1000 word essays in first year of university a breeze! If you are interested in reading some past essays, they can be found on the Senior School Homepage on Schoolbox, under the Diploma Programme tile. This year’s EEs will also be uploaded there soon.

The students found it rewarding to become mini-experts in the field associated with their essay as it is a task that requires the students to think and research deeply on their chosen topic. If you would like to know more about the Extended Essay, or about the IB Diploma generally, please feel free to contact me: swalther@somerset.qld.edu.au

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