Extended Essay Supervisors

EE Step 4: SUPERVISORS Interim Meeting with Students


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The supervisor plays an important role in helping students to plan and undertake their research for the extended essay. The relationship should be an active two-way process with the supervisor primarily there to support and guide the student, during the supervision and reflection sessions, at the planning stage, and when the student is carrying out and writing up their research. Supervisors are required to:

  • undertake three mandatory reflection sessions

  • provide students with advice and guidance in the skills of undertaking research

  • encourage and support students throughout the research and writing

  • discuss the choice of topic with each student and, in particular, help to formulate a well-focused research question which is suitable to the subject of registration and ensure that the chosen research question satisfies appropriate legal and ethical standards with regard to health and safety, confidentiality, human rights, animal welfare and environmental issues

  • is familiar with the regulations governing the extended essay and the assessment criteria, and gives copies of these to students

  • read and comment on one draft only of the extended essay (but do not edit the draft); this should take place after the interim reflection session, but before the final reflection session, the viva voce

  • read the final version and, in conjunction with the viva voce, confirm its authenticity.

Aims of the EE

The aims of the extended essay are for students to:

  • engage in independent research with intellectual initiative and rigour

  • develop research, thinking, self-management and communication skills

  • reflect on what has been learned throughout the research and writing process.

Features of the EE

  • The extended essay is compulsory for all students taking the Diploma Programme and is an option for course students.

  • A student must achieve a D grade or higher to be awarded the Diploma.

  • The extended essay is externally assessed and, in combination with the grade for theory of knowledge, contributes up to three points to the total score for the IB Diploma.

  • It is presented as a formal piece of sustained academic writing containing no more than 4,000 words accompanied by a reflection form of no more than 500 words.

  • It is the result of approximately 40 hours of work by the student.

  • Students are supported by a supervision process recommended to be 3–5 hours, which includes three mandatory reflection sessions.

  • The third and final mandatory reflection session is the viva voce, which is a concluding interview with the supervising teacher.

  • Link to Ethics of the Extended Essay

  • Link to Information on Animal Testing and the EE

  • Link to Folder with EXAMPLE EE's and COMMENTS

World Studies EE Supervisors Introduction

Key Steps in the Extended Essay Process

ISB's MAIN LIBRARY DATABASES LINKED HERE - Everything you need to find primary, secondary, and academic journals

Supervisors are strongly recommended to:

  • read recent extended essay reports for the subject

  • spend between three and five hours with each student, including the time spent on the three mandatory reflection sessions

  • advise students on:


The first reflection session

Students should do the following.

  1. Think about subjects and areas of particular personal interest and do some initial background reading into a subject and topic of their choice.

  2. Using this as a starting point, explore a variety of possible research topics.

  3. Read the subject-specific section of the Extended essay guide for the subject they are interested in.

  4. Undertake further background reading and begin to gather information around their area of interest. All of this should be recorded in their Researcher’s reflection space.

  5. Develop a research proposal and an annotated article or bibliography. Questions students could consider:

    • Is my topic appropriate for the subject I am considering?

    • Why am I interested in this area and why is it important?

    • What possible questions have emerged from my initial reading?

    • Are there any ethical issues that I need to consider?

    • What possible methods or approaches might be used for research in this area and why?

It is recommended at this point that the student–supervisor relationship is formalized and the student can consider himself or herself prepared for the first formal reflection session.

The interim reflection

This session is a continuation of the dialogue between supervisor and student in which the student must demonstrate the progress they have made in their research. They must also be able to discuss any challenges they have encountered, offer their own potential solutions and seek advice as necessary.

During this session the supervisor might discuss:

  • a completed piece of sustained writing from the student in order to ensure that they understand the academic writing requirements, including referencing formats

  • whether an appropriate range of sources has been accessed and how the student is critically evaluating the origin of those sources

  • what the student now has to do in order to produce the full draft of their essay, and ways and means of breaking down the task into manageable steps.

By the end of the interim reflection session both student and supervisor should feel satisfied that there is:

  • a clear and refined research question

  • a viable argument on which to base the essay

  • a sufficient range of appropriate sources

  • a clear vision for the final steps in the writing process.


Following this interim session, the student is required to complete the second student comment section of the Reflections on planning and progress form and submit it.

Final reflection (viva voce)

The viva voce is a short interview between the student and the supervisor, and is the mandatory conclusion to the extended essay process. Students who do not attend the viva voce will be disadvantaged under criterion E (engagement) as the Reflections on planning and progress form will be incomplete.

The viva voce is conducted once the student has submitted the final version of their extended essay.

The viva voce is:

  • an opportunity to ask the student a variety of open-ended questions to elicit holistic evidence of the student’s learning experience.

  • an opportunity for the supervisor to confirm the authenticity of the student’s ideas and sources

  • an opportunity to reflect on successes and difficulties encountered in the research process

  • an aid to the supervisor’s comments on the Reflections on planning and progress form.

The viva voce should last 20–30 minutes. This is included in the recommended amount of time a supervisor should spend with the student.

Commenting on the student's Best Draft

The best way of conducting this last stage is for the student to submit the essay prior to a supervision session to allow the supervisor to add their comments. This should be followed by a one-to-one discussion between the supervisor and the student in which they go through the comments together as these become a starting point for a dialogue about the essay. This advice should be in terms of the way the work could be improved, but the draft must not be heavily annotated or edited by the supervisor.

What supervisors can do

Comments can be added that indicate that the essay could be improved. These comments should be open-ended and not involve editing the text, for example:

  • Issue: the research question is expressed differently in three places (the title page, the introduction and the conclusion).Comment: is your research question consistent through the essay, including on the title page?

  • Issue: the essay rambles and the argument is not clear. Comment: your essay lacks clarity here. How might you make it clearer?

  • Issue: the student has made a mistake in their calculations. Comment: check this page carefully.

  • Issue: the student has left out a section of the essay. Comment: you are missing something here. What is it? Check the essay against the requirements.

  • Issue: the essay places something in the appendix that should be in the body of the essay. Comment: are you sure this belongs here?

  • Issue: the conclusion is weak. Comment: what is it that you are trying to say here? Have you included all your relevant findings? Have you looked at unanswered questions?

  • Issue: the essay has an incomplete citation. Comment: you need to check this page for accuracy of referencing.

What supervisors cannot do:

  • Correct spelling and punctuation.

  • Correct experimental work or mathematics.

  • Re-write any of the essay.

  • Indicate where whole sections of the essay would be better placed.

  • Proofread the essay for errors.

  • Correct bibliographies or citations.



Writing the extended essay

The structure of the essay is very important. It helps students to organize the argument, making the best use of the evidence collected.

There are six required elements of the final work to be submitted.. Please note that the order in which these elements are presented here is not necessarily the order in which they should be written.

Six required elements of the extended essay:

  1. Title page

  2. Table of Contents page

  3. Introduction

  4. Body of the essay

  5. Conclusion

  6. References and bibliography

Title page

The title page should include only the following information:

  • the title of the essay

  • the research question

  • the subject for which the essay is registered (if it is a language essay also state which category it falls into; if a world studies essay also state the theme and the two subjects utilized)

  • word count - If footnotes have been used for anything other than referencing, the word count stated on the coversheet should include the footnotes, with an explicit statement that the stated word count includes explanatory footnotes.

  • *Followed immediately by the Table of Contents page


The introduction should tell the reader what to expect in the essay. The introduction should make clear to the reader the focus of the essay, the scope of the research, in particular an indication of the sources to be used, and an insight into the line of argument to be taken.

While students should have a sense of the direction and key focus of their essay, it is sometimes advisable to finalize the introduction once the body of the essay is complete.

Body of the essay (research, analysis, discussion, *METHODS, and evaluation)

The main task is writing the body of the essay, which should be presented in the form of a reasoned argument. The argument should be clear to the reader what relevant evidence has been discovered, where/how it has been discovered and how it supports the argument. In structuring their extended essay, students must take into consideration the expected conventions of the subject in which their extended essay is registered.

**NOTE: Once the main body of the essay is complete, it is possible to finalize the introduction (which tells the reader what to expect) and the conclusion (which says what has been achieved, including notes of any limitations and any questions that have not been resolved).


*NOT ALWAYS MANDATORY however it still can be included. The method is specifically important to the manner in which the student will analyze their sources against existing knowledge or more specifically knowledge gleaned from IB Coursework.


*courtesy of Nicholas Wellington (THANKS!)


The conclusion says what has been achieved, including notes of any limitations and any questions that have not been resolved. While students might draw conclusions throughout the essay based on their findings, it is important that there is a final, summative conclusion at the end. This conclusion(s) must relate to the research question posed.

References and Works Cited

We recommend MLA 9 (MLA is still valid as long as they adhere to one or the other.). Students are encouraged to use Mybib.com:

  • it provides a place to story resources,

  • cites them in MLA8/9,

  • provides in-text citations,

  • and the Works Cited page.

For more information on this, refer to the guidelines in the IB document Effective citing and referencing.

Writing the essay takes time but if students have used their Researcher's reflection space and reflection sessions in a meaningful way they should be well prepared to develop their arguments.



There are certain subject areas which have details about carrying out fieldwork. These are the areas:

  • Biology

  • Chemistry

  • Physics

  • Environmental Systems and Societies

  • Sports and Exercise Health Science

  • Geography


Mangaging Science and Geography Extended Essays WITHOUT Fieldwork - *FROM THE IB WEBSITE

Managing the Sciences and Geography EE Fieldwork.pdf

What are METHODS and what do you need to know?

What is an EE Research METHOD?

Tables and Illustrations

The use of tables should be considered carefully and are only really appropriate in certain subjects. Tables must not be used in an attempt to circumvent the word limit.

Graphs, diagrams, tables and maps are effective only if they are clearly labelled and can be interpreted with ease.

Labelling should contain the minimum information to ensure the examiner understands the significance of the map, chart, diagram or illustration. It must not include commentary, as this will be considered as part of the essay discussion and thus included in the word count.

The use of photographs and other images is acceptable only if they are captioned and/or annotated and are used to illustrate a specific point made in the extended essay. They should only be used if they are relevant and appropriate to a point being made as part of the argument of the essay.


Appendices are not an essential part of the extended essay and examiners will not read them, or use any information contained within them, in the assessment of the essay. Appendices should therefore be avoided except in the following instances:

  • an exemplar of a questionnaire or interview questions

  • an exemplar of permission letters

  • group 1, category 1 essays: copies of poems or short stories (of less than three pages)

  • group 1, category 3 essays: excerpts from newspapers, advertisements and transcripts of speeches

  • language acquisition, category 1 and 2: excerpts from newspapers, advertisements, transcripts of speeches, etc

  • language acquisition, category 3: excerpts or copies of poems or short stories (less than 3 pages)

  • an external mentor letter, where one has been used

  • raw data or statistical tables for experimental sciences (this should not include any analysis or conclusions).

Students should not continually refer to material presented in an appendix as this may disrupt the continuity of the essay and examiners are not required to refer to them.


EE SUPERVISORS Training Initial Meeting