Extended Essay Ib Literature Guide

While the extended essay is an excellent opportunity to explore a topic of choice in depth, it is important that we adhere to the basic requirements of the IB. It is easy to become carried away with an idea that seems fantastic, but in the end is neither relevant nor focused. This page offers an overview of both the general and subject specific requirements. 

General requirements

  • The extended essay is required to receive the full IB Diploma. Failure to submit an extended essay will result in a failure of the Diploma.
  • The extended essay may be no longer than 4,000 words. Although there is no minimum word count, it is recommended to write at least 3,000 words.
  • The essay is assessed externally by an IB examiner. 
  • The topic of the extended essay is focused around a research question.
  • The topic of the extended essay is chosen by students. It must relate to one of the DP courses. Schools often decide that the topic must relate to a course that the student takes and the school offers.
  • Each student is assigned a supervisor who spends 4 - 8 hours monitoring, consulting and supervising the project. The supervisor is usually a teacher of the subject that the essay is based on.
  • Students must meet internal deadlines set by the school, both for the final result and for tasks that the supervisor and school set.
  • Once the essay is submitted, students may be required by schools to conduct an interview with the supervisor called a 'viva voce' (see IB Extended Essay guide).
  • The essay is assessed according to the assessment criteria. These are criteria that are both general to all subjects and specific to each subject. See criteria page.
  • The final marks from both the extended essay and the Theory of Knowledge assessment are combined in a matrix to form a maximum of three points for the IB Diploma. (A total of 45 points are possible for the IB Diploma; 7 points for each of the 6 subjects, plus 3 for extended essay and Theory of Knowledge. You must have at least 24 points to earn an IB Diploma, excluding the points (0-3) earned for TOK and extended essay.) The matrix, which has been taken from the Extended Essay guide, can be found by clicking here.

Language and Literature requirements

As the Language A: Language and Literature course falls in Group 1, which is intended for native and near-native speakers, essays should demonstrate an appropriate level of proficiency in the language. If students want to write in their second language, a Group 2 essay would be more appropriate.

For all Group 1 courses, there are three categories of essays that students may choose from. The following are outlined in the Extended Essay guide. 

  1. Category 1 - Studies of a literary work(s) originally written in the language in which the essay is presented.
    • literary criticism
    • well-structured and persuasive arguments
    • in-depth understanding of the texts
       
  2. Category 2 - Studies of a literary work(s) originally written in the language of the essay compared with literary work(s) originally written in another language.
    • equal comparative analysis of both texts
    • cross-cultural understanding
    • well-structured and persuasive arguments
       
  3. Category 3 - Studies in language.
    • textual analysis skills
    • reference to culture and context
    • rooted in primary and secondary sources

Remember: The definition of 'literary work' for the extended essay may include works studied in class. Having said this, students are expected to take a new or deeper approach in their studies of these texts than that taken in class. Students are also free to choose literary works from anywhere. They do not have to be taken from the Prescribed List of Authors or the Prescribed Literature in Translation. Having said this, works chosen must merit a certain level of literary quality. The professional judgment of the supervisor may be consulted for this.

The extended essay is an IB core requirement, where students explore a subject in depth. The subject must relate to one of the courses offered in Groups 1 - 6 of the IB Diploma Programme. The extended essay is an opportunity to demonstrate research and writing skills, along with other traits of the IB learner profile. While independent study and self-discipline are part of this task, an in-school supervisor is assigned to each student to monitor progress. The final, formal piece of writing of 3,000-4,000 words is something that students can be proud of, present to teachers, parents and even future employers. 

The following pages explain the relevance of extended essay to Group 1 and the Language A: Language and Literature course. You can find information on the basic requirements and the assessment criteria, along with sample extended essays from former students. It is recommended that you study these pages carefully before you engage in the writing process, in order to ensure the best results and the most rewarding experience. 

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