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100 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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100 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. Escherichia Coli as One of the Most Widespread Food-Borne Pathogen
  2. What Is Systems Biology And How Does It Contribute To The Study Of Obesity?
  3. From The Lab To The Clinic: Synthetic Biology At The Front Line Of Translational Research
  4. Will Increasing The Concentration Of Vermiculite In The Substrate Increase Seedling Survival And Growth Of Phaseolus Vulgaris Seeds?
  5. Is Resurrection Biology Both An Ethical And Sustainable Concept?
  6. The Role Of The Biotechnology In The Current Pandemic Of Covid-19
  7. Meat Vs Plant-Based Diet: An Overview For The Healthiest Diet For Strength-Based Athletes
  8. Plant Phenolics And Terpenoids As Antibacterial Agents
  9. Bioremediation Of Waste Water By Using Microorganisms
  10. Coronaviruses Characteristics: Structure, Naming, Multiplication, Implications And Control

Read also: 170 Interesting Biology Research Paper Topics

Psychology extended essay topics

  1. The Way How Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Helps in Usual Life
  2. Paradigm Shift to Governance Ensuring Gender Equality
  3. Minimization of Biases and Increasing of Objective Decision Making
  4. A Correlational Study Of Mental Health, Resilience and Happiness
  5. Connection of Morality with Function of a Human Being
  6. Minimization of Biases and Increasing of Objective Decision Making
  7. A Correlational Study Of Mental Health, Resilience and Happiness
  8. Self-Esteem and Self-Satisfaction as Tools to be Happy
  9. Attention Processing and The Impact of Stroop Effect
  10. Depression and Suicidal Ideation in Children: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is the Strongest Way to Get Rid of Child Depression

English extended essay topics

  1. Development Of Creative Writer Identity By English Language Learners
  2. To What Extent Does Social Media Improve Language Development?
  3. The Development And Peculiarities Of Standard English
  4. The Peculiarities Of Teaching English Language To Beginners
  5. Impacts Of Social Networks On Construction Of English Language
  6. The Role Of English Language In The Field Of Advertisement And Business
  7. Problems And Solution Of English Language Popularity In Education
  8. Modern Approaches And Methods In Teaching English Language
  9. The Impact Of Wattpad On English Language Development Among Teenagers
  10. The Discourse, Lexis And Grammatical Features Of The Spoken English Language

Literature extended essay topics

  1. The Souls of Black Folk': An Analysis of Double Consciousness
  2. The Picture of Dorian Gray': Aesthetic Principles in the Book
  3. The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man': Kobe Bryant's Genuine Nature
  4. The History of Gothic Literature
  5. Exploring How Dante the Pilgrim is Different to Dante the Poet
  6. A Short Analysis of Andrew Marvell’s ‘The Definition of Love’
  7. Robert Browning: Analysis of 'The Last Ride Together'
  8. The Picture of Dorian Gray': The Conflict Between Aestheticism and Morality
  9. Ego Defense Mechanisms Shown By The Female Protagonist In The Walking Dead: Michonne Game
  10. How can Carbon Capture Technology Help Make the Chemical Industry More Sustainable and Is It Viable? Essay

Read also: Literary Analysis Essay Topics for Students

Geography extended essay topics

  1. Skills, Knowledge, Personal Development, And Potential For Geography Teacher
  2. Essay on the Internet Revolution and the Geography of Innovation
  3. Response of the Caribbean ecosystem following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill
  4. Salt accumulation in soil resulting from unsustainable irrigation practices
  5. Anticipated climate change impact on oceanic currents
  6. Massive power outages caused by solar storms – future prevention strategies
  7. Massive eruption of the Vesuvius supervolcano as the potential cause of Neanderthal extinction
  8. Polar vortex instability resulting from climate change
  9. Siberian permafrost thawing – current estimates of methane volume risking to be released and potential implications (according to models)
  10. Impact of fertilizers on the ecosystem of the Mississippi river

History extended essay topics

  1. An Argument for and Against The Philippines Getting Separated from Spain in 1898
  2. An Analysis of The War Between The American and Philippine as Depicted in Mark Twain's Article
  3. Differences Between Northern and Southern American Colonies in 1600s
  4. Jay Gould: One of The Robber Barons and Captains of Industry
  5. The Context and Influence of Concordant Proclamation of The Thirteen Colonies of The USA
  6. A Comparative Research on The Three Sections of The Thirteen Colonies: The New England, Middle, and Southern Colonies
  7. The Reasons of Many Colonists Dying in Early Jamestown
  8. The Effects of Hurricane Katrina Has Left New Orleans Sinking Slowly
  9. Positive Events That Happened During the Revolution
  10. The American Civil War': Role of Abraham Lincoln in Civil War Essay

Physics extended essay topics

  1. A Lab Experiment on Measuring The Movement of a Pendulum by Determining The Pendulum's Properties
  2. An Experiment to Determine the Unknown Tension by Using the Components of the Force Vectors in Equilibrium
  3. The Scientists of the Theory of Light and Their Main Ideas
  4. Analyzing the Relationship Between Physics and Human Behavior
  5. Harmful Blue Light Emitted by Electronic Devices and Methods to Block It
  6. Speed Monitoring System Using CCTV: Analytical Essay
  7. Removal or Maintaining a Speed Limit at Motorways: Argumentative Essay
  8. Analytical Essay on Types and Speed of Network
  9. Advantages and Disadvantages of High-Speed Rail: Analytical Essay
  10. General Overview and Categories of High-Speed Rail

Film extended essay topics

  1. How Science Has Contributed To The Film And Television Industry And Its Impact On Society
  2. Film Techniques In Tim Burton Movie Alice In Wonderland
  3. The Differences In Film And Novel Of Snow White
  4. Identification Of The Film Theories About The Movie Life Of Pi And All The Methods Used In The Production Of It
  5. The Role Of Technology In Science Fiction Film Gattaca And Short Story Movement
  6. The Themes And Ideas Of Halloween Film
  7. Psychoanalytic Theory In The Film Lalaland
  8. Semiotics in Films: Theory, Functions and Examples
  9. Cinematography, Photography And Film Making As My Scholarly Interests
  10. Sexual Abuse Issues in Film Industry

Economics extended essay topics

  1. What Is Capitalism and What Are Its Main Features? Essay
  2. Central Banks Independence from Government
  3. Workers’ Compensation Law Overview
  4. Positive Effects of Inflation on the Economy
  5. When Should You Use a Workers' Compensation Lawyer?
  6. The Problem of Economic Inequality in Modern South Africa
  7. Sociocultural Effects of Racial Income Inequality in the United States
  8. Credit Card Fraud and Its Impact on Consumer Perception: An Essay
  9. The Problem of the Wealth Gap in Contemporary American Society
  10. Analysis of the Effect of Compensation and Reward System in Enhancing Employee's Productivity

World religion studies extended essays topics

  1. The Beliefs And Practices Of Judaism And Buddhism
  2. Comparative Study Of Buddhism And Jainism
  3. The Concept Of The Soul In Major World Religions
  4. Comparison And Contrast Of Hinduism And Buddhism
  5. The Rituals Of Monotheistic Religions: Islam, Christianity, And Judaism
  6. Comparing And Contrasting The Three Giants: Judaism, Islam, And Christianity
  7. Three's A Crowd: Jesus In The Abrahamic Religions Of Islam, Christianity And Judaism
  8. The Differences Between Hinduism And Christianity
  9. Scientology And Christianity: What Is In Common?
  10. Traditions And Goals Of Buddhism, Brahmanism And Jainism

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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