200 Extended Essay Topics, the Essay’s Layout, and Additional Info

The International Baccalaureate (IB) is an educational foundation with worldwide outreach founded in 1968 and which offers education programs to students or pupils 3 to 19 years old. In 2017, more than 4,650 schools worldwide taught International Baccalaureate programs – this corresponds to roughly 1.4 million IB students in 152 countries. Out of all schools, 1700 are located in the US alone.

An important International Baccalaureate Program (one of the four tracks available) is the Diploma Program aimed at students between 16 and 19 years old – in 2016, roughly 150,000 students worldwide took an IB Diploma Program exam. One of the mandatory IB Diploma requirements is to write an extended essay, which contributes significantly to the total score. Below, we provide some guiding information and a selection of extended essay topics to help get you started with this task.

Definition and Purpose

The IB extended essay is part of the core requirements/curriculum of an IB Diploma Program and involves focused independent research by the IB student on a chosen theme. Resulting papers have a typical length of up to 4000 words long (they should tend to reach this, although writing 3500 words can still be acceptable). A low score (E) for the extended paper and/or Theory of Knowledge essay revokes the right to receive an IB Diploma. By contrast, good marks contribute to the overall score, which could impact a student’s college application success.

While submission deadlines for extended essays are set by the IB, schools are free to set their own internal deadlines. Preparation and work on this assignment spans several academic terms – this includes choosing extended essay topics, submitting proposals, designating supervisors, information gathering (e.g. sources from local libraries), writing a draft (for instance, over a summer break), receiving feedback from supervisors, etc.

Extended Essay Topics

IB Extended Essay Layout

There are six required elements in an extended essay layout:

  • Title page – should include the title, research question (e.g. “How did phenomenon A cause phenomenon B?”), subject it is registered in, category (for language essays), essay theme and subjects used (for world studies), total word count.
  • Contents page – should be at the beginning listing headings and subheadings along with corresponding page numbers these can be found on (all pages should be numbered).
  • Introduction – should describe the focus and scope of this research, used sources, line of argument to be presented.
  • Essay body – this is the main section where research, analysis, discussion, and evaluation is being performed. The structure might vary from subject to subject but it is essential that evidence and argument development is presented clearly and in appropriate order.
  • Conclusion – conclusions state what has been accomplished through this research, but also potential limitations, unsolved issues, open questions.
  • References and bibliography – students should adhere to a chosen academic citation style and use it consistently (different citations styles might be required depending on the discipline).

A methodology section or other sections might also be appropriate. Also, there might be an Appendices section if you have supplementary material to add (this is not included in the total word count). Also note that starting with 2018, no abstract is needed – adding it will unnecessarily steal roughly 300 words from the total word count, which will almost certainly prove detrimental (so it’s wise to skip it).

How to Choose a Good Topic

IB students must take six subjects, one from each subject group (there are 6 in total) with the exception that no subject from the sixth group (Arts) is mandatory and can be substituted with a subject from any of the other five groups. IB extended essay topics are normally chosen so that they are related to subjects picked by the student but they must fall into a course belonging to any of the following six subject groups (categories):

  • Group 1: Studies in language and literature – this includes subjects like student's native language, Language and Literature, Literature and Performance (interdisciplinary).
  • Group 2: Language acquisition – this includes an additional language (either deepening existing knowledge or starting one from zero).
  • Group 3: Individuals and societies – includes humanities and social science courses such as Economics, Geography, History, Business Management, Information Technology in a Global Society (ITGS), Psychology, Philosophy, Social and Cultural Anthropology and Global Politics, Environmental Systems and Societies, World Religions (interdisciplinary).
  • Group 4: Experimental sciences - Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Design Technology, Computer Science, Sport, Exercise and Health Science, Environmental Systems (interdisciplinary), Societies and Nature of Science (interdisciplinary).
  • Group 5: Mathematics. Mathematical Studies, Mathematics, Further Mathematics.
  • Group 6: Arts – Dance, Music, Theatre, Foreign Languages, Visual Arts, and Film.

It is highly recommended you choose a topic that interests and motivates you – after all, you’ll be working on and perfecting your extended paper over several months. Some challenge (e.g. unfamiliar fields) is also fine but risks should be reasonable. Choose issues that are narrow enough to be explored and covered comprehensively in 4000 words – attempting to do this with a very broad theme, would look very unprofessional.

In order to pick an interesting topic, it might be very useful to have brainstorm sessions on your own (this will help you focus on your interests) but also to browse the web or other resources for lists of potential themes (especially if you feel confused or stuck) – it could very well happen that one such topic would inspire you to choose a related one, which would be even better adjusted to your interests and goals.

Choosing a topic is not the only challenge encountered while writing an extended essay – writing up in a clear, organized manner and using correct language is also a must. Even if you proofread your extended paper several times, there might still be errors you can skip (occasional comas, wrong spellings, etc.).

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200 IB Extended Essay Topic Ideas

Below is a list of IB extended essay topic ideas sorted by subject that might help you identify a favorite.

Biology extended essay topics

  1. The effects of urban pollution on local flora species diversity.
  2. Analyzing the impact of climate change on coral reef ecosystems.
  3. Investigating the role of genetics in resistance to antibiotics.
  4. The influence of soil pH on plant growth and nutrient uptake.
  5. A comparative study of carnivorous plants: Mechanisms and efficiency of prey capture.
  6. The impact of invasive species on native biodiversity in a specific region.
  7. Examining the symbiotic relationship between fungi and plant roots in nutrient-poor soils.
  8. The role of epigenetics in the development of certain human diseases.
  9. Investigating the effects of microplastics on marine life fertility rates.
  10. The efficiency of different natural pesticides on crop pests.
  11. Analyzing the genetic diversity of a local endangered species to aid conservation efforts.
  12. The impact of deforestation on the genetic variation of isolated populations.
  13. Studying the behavioral patterns of a specific animal species in response to habitat fragmentation.
  14. The role of gut microbiota in human health and disease.
  15. Investigating the biochemical processes involved in the bioremediation of oil spills.
  16. The effects of light intensity on the rate of photosynthesis.
  17. Analyzing the impact of GMO crops on surrounding natural plant populations.
  18. The role of plant hormones in root development and growth.
  19. Investigating the mechanisms of aging at the cellular level.
  20. The impact of ocean acidification on shellfish calcification processes.

Read also: 170 Interesting Biology Research Paper Topics

Psychology extended essay topics

  1. The effectiveness of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy in treating depression.
  2. Investigating the psychological impact of social media on teenagers' self-esteem.
  3. The role of personality traits in workplace success.
  4. Analyzing the effects of sleep deprivation on cognitive performance.
  5. The impact of parental styles on children's emotional development.
  6. Investigating the psychological effects of bullying on adolescents.
  7. The influence of cultural background on perception and decision-making.
  8. Analyzing the role of psychological resilience in coping with chronic illness.
  9. The effectiveness of art therapy in reducing anxiety in adults.
  10. Investigating the relationship between exercise and mental health.
  11. The impact of childhood trauma on adult psychological disorders.
  12. Analyzing the psychological factors influencing consumer behavior.
  13. The role of implicit bias in social interactions and judgments.
  14. Investigating the effects of virtual reality on phobia treatment.
  15. The impact of peer pressure on adolescent risk-taking behaviors.
  16. Analyzing the psychological aspects of addiction and recovery.
  17. The role of emotional intelligence in personal and professional relationships.
  18. Investigating the effects of music therapy on stress reduction.
  19. The impact of social isolation on elderly mental health.
  20. Analyzing the role of genetics and environment in the development of personality.

English extended essay topics

  1. The portrayal of women in Victorian literature.
  2. Analyzing the use of symbolism in "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee.
  3. The impact of colonialism on literature: A case study of post-colonial African literature.
  4. Investigating the theme of identity in "The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger.
  5. The evolution of the tragic hero in Shakespeare's plays.
  6. Analyzing the representation of dystopian societies in modern young adult literature.
  7. The role of nature in Romantic poetry.
  8. Investigating the use of unreliable narrators in modern American literature.
  9. The impact of the First World War on British poetry.
  10. Exploring the theme of racial discrimination in "The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison.
  11. The influence of Greek mythology on modern literature.
  12. Analyzing the portrayal of mental illness in "The Bell Jar" by Sylvia Plath.
  13. The use of stream of consciousness technique in Virginia Woolf's novels.
  14. Investigating the theme of existentialism in "The Stranger" by Albert Camus.
  15. The depiction of the American Dream in "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
  16. Exploring the concept of feminism in "Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Brontë.
  17. The role of the supernatural in Gothic literature.
  18. Analyzing the theme of redemption in "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens.
  19. The portrayal of childhood in "Lord of the Flies" by William Golding.
  20. Investigating the use of satire in "Animal Farm" by George Orwell.

Literature extended essay topics

  1. The exploration of the American Dream in John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath."
  2. The use of magical realism in Gabriel García Márquez's "One Hundred Years of Solitude."
  3. The depiction of female empowerment in Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper."
  4. The theme of isolation in Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein."
  5. The impact of societal expectations on individual identity in Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice."
  6. The exploration of existentialism in Albert Camus's "The Plague."
  7. The portrayal of war and its aftermath in Erich Maria Remarque's "All Quiet on the Western Front."
  8. The concept of love and sacrifice in Emily Brontë's "Wuthering Heights."
  9. The critique of totalitarianism in George Orwell's "1984."
  10. The exploration of racial inequality in Toni Morrison's "Beloved."
  11. The representation of childhood and coming of age in J.D. Salinger's "The Catcher in the Rye."
  12. The use of the journey motif in Homer's "The Odyssey."
  13. The depiction of mental illness in Sylvia Plath's "The Bell Jar."
  14. The role of nature in the poetry of William Wordsworth.
  15. The exploration of gender roles in Virginia Woolf's "Orlando."
  16. The impact of colonialism on identity in Chinua Achebe's "Things Fall Apart."
  17. The portrayal of the artist in James Joyce's "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man."
  18. The theme of revenge in William Shakespeare's "Hamlet."
  19. The exploration of social class and morality in Charles Dickens's "Great Expectations."
  20. The depiction of dystopian society in Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale."

Read also: Literary Analysis Essay Topics for Students

Geography extended essay topics

  1. The effects of climate change on coral reef ecosystems in the Caribbean.
  2. Urban sprawl and its impact on the environment in a specific metropolitan area.
  3. The role of sustainable agriculture in promoting food security in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  4. The impact of tourism on natural resources in a national park.
  5. The relationship between population density and air quality in major cities.
  6. The effects of deforestation on biodiversity in the Amazon rainforest.
  7. The impact of renewable energy projects on rural communities.
  8. Water scarcity and its effects on agriculture in the Middle East.
  9. The role of green spaces in urban environments on mental health.
  10. The impact of sea-level rise on coastal communities.
  11. The geographical factors influencing the spread of diseases.
  12. The effects of industrial pollution on river ecosystems.
  13. The role of geographical information systems (GIS) in disaster management.
  14. The impact of glacier retreat on water resources in the Himalayas.
  15. The relationship between soil erosion and agricultural practices.
  16. The effects of urbanization on wildlife habitats.
  17. The impact of mining activities on local communities and the environment.
  18. The role of ecotourism in conservation efforts.
  19. The geographical patterns of renewable energy adoption.
  20. The impact of landfills on groundwater quality.

History extended essay topics

  1. The impact of the Treaty of Versailles on the Weimar Republic.
  2. The role of women in the French Resistance during World War II.
  3. The influence of the Silk Road on the cultural exchange between East and West.
  4. The causes and consequences of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
  5. The impact of the Industrial Revolution on urbanization.
  6. The role of propaganda in Nazi Germany.
  7. The effects of the Great Depression on American society.
  8. The influence of Mahatma Gandhi on the Indian independence movement.
  9. The causes and effects of the fall of the Roman Empire.
  10. The impact of the Civil Rights Movement on racial equality in the United States.
  11. The role of the Catholic Church in medieval Europe.
  12. The consequences of the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire.
  13. The impact of the Cold War on space exploration.
  14. The effects of colonialism on Africa.
  15. The role of the samurai in feudal Japan.
  16. The causes and outcomes of the Korean War.
  17. The impact of the discovery of the New World on European societies.
  18. The influence of the Renaissance on art and science.
  19. The consequences of the Chernobyl disaster on Soviet society.
  20. The role of espionage during the Cold War.

Physics extended essay topics

  1. The principles and applications of quantum entanglement.
  2. The impact of black holes on theories of space and time.
  3. The role of dark matter in the universe.
  4. The physics of climate change: Analyzing the greenhouse effect.
  5. The principles of superconductivity and its potential applications.
  6. The effects of solar flares on Earth's magnetic field.
  7. The physics behind renewable energy sources.
  8. The principles of aerodynamics in sports.
  9. The impact of technological advancements on space exploration.
  10. The role of physics in understanding ocean currents and their effects on climate.
  11. The principles of sound waves and their applications in medical imaging.
  12. The physics of electric vehicles and their impact on the environment.
  13. The role of particle accelerators in modern physics research.
  14. The principles of nuclear fusion and its potential as an energy source.
  15. The physics of earthquakes and seismic waves.
  16. The application of thermodynamics in everyday life.
  17. The role of optics in modern communication technologies.
  18. The principles of electromagnetism in electrical engineering.
  19. The physics of sports equipment design.
  20. The impact of nanotechnology on future technological developments.

Film extended essay topics

  1. The evolution of special effects in cinema and their impact on storytelling.
  2. The representation of historical events in films: Accuracy vs. artistic license.
  3. The influence of film noir on modern cinematography and narrative styles.
  4. The role of music in shaping the emotional landscape of films.
  5. The portrayal of gender roles in Hollywood movies from the 1950s to today.
  6. The impact of independent films on the global film industry.
  7. The cultural significance of foreign films in promoting global awareness.
  8. The evolution of the superhero genre in cinema.
  9. The depiction of artificial intelligence in science fiction films.
  10. The influence of directors' personal styles on the development of film genres.
  11. The role of propaganda films in shaping public opinion during wartime.
  12. The impact of censorship on film content and its reception by audiences.
  13. The representation of mental illness in films and its impact on societal perceptions.
  14. The evolution of animation techniques and their impact on storytelling.
  15. The portrayal of race and ethnicity in contemporary cinema.
  16. The influence of streaming platforms on film production and distribution.
  17. The role of documentaries in raising awareness about social and environmental issues.
  18. The impact of the French New Wave on contemporary filmmaking techniques.
  19. The depiction of futuristic societies in dystopian films.
  20. The role of film festivals in promoting independent and international cinema.

Economics extended essay topics

  1. The impact of globalization on small businesses in developing countries.
  2. The effectiveness of monetary policy in controlling inflation.
  3. The role of technology in shaping consumer behavior and market trends.
  4. The impact of Brexit on the UK's economic relationship with the EU.
  5. The effects of minimum wage laws on employment rates.
  6. The role of microfinance in promoting entrepreneurship in developing countries.
  7. The impact of trade tariffs on international relations and global markets.
  8. The effects of the gig economy on traditional employment models.
  9. The role of sustainable development in economic planning.
  10. The impact of cryptocurrency on traditional banking and financial markets.
  11. The economics of climate change: Costs and benefits of environmental policies.
  12. The role of foreign direct investment in economic development.
  13. The impact of income inequality on economic growth.
  14. The effects of agricultural subsidies on global trade.
  15. The role of consumer confidence in economic recovery post-recession.
  16. The impact of internet advertising on consumer spending habits.
  17. The economics of renewable energy and its impact on fossil fuel industries.
  18. The role of government regulation in preventing financial crises.
  19. The impact of demographic changes on economic growth strategies.
  20. The effects of corporate social responsibility on brand loyalty and profitability.

World religion studies extended essays topics

  1. The role of religious rituals in strengthening community bonds.
  2. The impact of secularism on religious practices and institutions.
  3. The influence of Buddhism on modern mindfulness and meditation practices.
  4. The role of women in leadership positions within different religious traditions.
  5. The impact of globalization on the spread and adaptation of religions.
  6. The ethical implications of religious beliefs on medical decisions.
  7. The role of religion in conflict and peacebuilding efforts.
  8. The influence of religious education on moral development.
  9. The impact of religious tourism on holy sites and local communities.
  10. The role of religion in shaping cultural identity.
  11. The evolution of Hinduism in the context of contemporary India.
  12. The influence of religion on art and architecture throughout history.
  13. The role of religious texts in shaping ethical and moral codes.
  14. The impact of interfaith dialogue on religious tolerance.
  15. The role of animism and indigenous religions in environmental conservation.
  16. The influence of the Reformation on the development of modern Christianity.
  17. The role of religious leaders in social and political movements.
  18. The impact of religious dietary laws on food culture and industry.
  19. The role of pilgrimage in different religious traditions.
  20. The influence of mysticism and esoteric practices within major world religions.

Need Some Expert Help?

While provided topics might be helpful in inspiring a research subject, don’t forget that you can always use our essay topic generator to explore even more topics from multiple categories. Also, you can choose to delegate the entire task to our writing experts – you can pick them yourself by reviewing their previous performance on our platform).

Our writers could come up with a topic or pick your favorite one, do all related research, and provide you with a final proofread paper. Our policies guarantee as many free revisions as necessary until you are satisfied with your paper (only after this, money is released to your writer). So if you need help with any writing task, don’t hesitate to contact our services.

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