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US IB Environmental Systems and Societies: ESS Extended Essay

  • ESS Extended Essay
  • Criterion Overview
  • Criterion A: Focus and method
  • Criterion B: Knowledge and Understanding
  • Criterion C: Critical thinking
  • Criterion D: Presentation
  • Criterion E: Engagement

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B: Knowledge and understanding

This criterion assesses the extent to which the research relates to the subject area/discipline used to explore the research question; or in the case of the world studies extended essay, the issue addressed and the two disciplinary perspectives applied; and additionally, the way in which this knowledge and understanding is demonstrated through the use of appropriate terminology and concepts.

  • Have you explained how your research question relates to a specific subject you selected for the extended essay?
  • Have you used relevant terminology and concepts throughout your essay as they relate to your particular area of research?
  • Is it clear that the sources you are using are relevant and appropriate to your research question?
  • Do you have a range of sources, or have you only relied on one particular type, for example internet sources?
  • Is there a reason why you might not have a range? Is this justified?

C: Critical thinking

This criterion assesses the extent to which critical thinking skills have been used to analyze and evaluate the research undertaken.

  • Have you made links between your results and data collected and your research question?
  • If you included data or information that is not directly related to your research question have you explained its importance?
  • Are your conclusions supported by your data?
  • If you found unexpected information or data have you discussed its importance?
  • Have you provided a critical evaluation of the methods you selected?
  • Have you considered the reliability of your sources (peer-reviewed journals, internet, and so on)?
  • Have you mentioned and evaluated the significance of possible errors that may have occurred in your research?
  • Are all your suggestions of errors or improvements relevant?
  • Have you evaluated your research question?
  • Have you compared your results or findings with any other sources?
  • Is there an argument that is clear and easy to follow and directly linked to answering your research question, and which is supported by evidence?

D: Presentation

This criterion assesses the extent to which the presentation follows the standard format expected for academic writing and the extent to which this aids effective communication.

  • Have you read and understood the presentation requirements of the extended essay?
  • Have you chosen a font that will be easy for examiners to read on-screen?
  • Is your essay double-spaced and size 12 font?
  • Are the title and research question mentioned on the cover page?
  • Are all pages numbered?
  • Have you prepared a correct table of contents?
  • Do the page numbers in the table of contents match the page numbers in the text?
  • Is your essay subdivided into correct sub-sections, if this is applicable to the subject?
  • Are all figures and tables properly numbered and labelled?
  • Does your bibliography contain only the sources cited in the text?
  • Did you use the same reference system throughout the essay?
  • Does the essay have less than 4,000 words?
  • Is all the material presented in the appendices relevant and necessary?
  • Have you proofread the text for spelling or grammar errors?

E. Engagement

This criterion assesses the student’s engagement with their research focus and the research process. It will be applied by the examiner at the end of the assessment of the essay, after considering the students RPPF.

  • Have you demonstrated your engagement with your research topic and the research process?
  • Have you highlighted challenges you faced and how you overcame them?
  • Will the examiner get a sense of your intellectual and skills development?
  • Will the examiner get a sense of your creativity and intellectual initiative?
  • Will the examiner get a sense of how you responded to actions and ideas in the research process?
  • IB ESS Extended Essay Guide
  • World Studies Extended Essay Guide
  • World Studies
  • Example A: Turtle Conservation
  • Example A: Marks
  • Example B: Economics of Wolves
  • Example B Marks
  • Example A: Wildlife Trafficking in China

Using the systems approach

The systems approach is a central theme in ESS. The essay should include an attempt to model, at least partially, the system or systems in question.

The term “model” in this context includes, for example:

  • mathematical formulas
  • graphical representations
  • flow diagrams

Students should use  ESS terminology , where appropriate.

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Filter exemplars, to what extent has japan taken steps to end overfishing in order to meet sustainable development goal 14, to what extent has the 1995 reintroduction of grey wolves (canis iupus) in yellowstone national park affected affected ecotourism in the greater yellowstone area, want to get full marks for your ee allow us to review it for you 🎯.

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International Baccalaureate (IB)

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IB students around the globe fear writing the Extended Essay, but it doesn't have to be a source of stress! In this article, I'll get you excited about writing your Extended Essay and provide you with the resources you need to get an A on it.

If you're reading this article, I'm going to assume you're an IB student getting ready to write your Extended Essay. If you're looking at this as a potential future IB student, I recommend reading our introductory IB articles first, including our guide to what the IB program is and our full coverage of the IB curriculum .

IB Extended Essay: Why Should You Trust My Advice?

I myself am a recipient of an IB Diploma, and I happened to receive an A on my IB Extended Essay. Don't believe me? The proof is in the IBO pudding:

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If you're confused by what this report means, EE is short for Extended Essay , and English A1 is the subject that my Extended Essay topic coordinated with. In layman's terms, my IB Diploma was graded in May 2010, I wrote my Extended Essay in the English A1 category, and I received an A grade on it.

What Is the Extended Essay in the IB Diploma Programme?

The IB Extended Essay, or EE , is a mini-thesis you write under the supervision of an IB advisor (an IB teacher at your school), which counts toward your IB Diploma (learn more about the major IB Diploma requirements in our guide) . I will explain exactly how the EE affects your Diploma later in this article.

For the Extended Essay, you will choose a research question as a topic, conduct the research independently, then write an essay on your findings . The essay itself is a long one—although there's a cap of 4,000 words, most successful essays get very close to this limit.

Keep in mind that the IB requires this essay to be a "formal piece of academic writing," meaning you'll have to do outside research and cite additional sources.

The IB Extended Essay must include the following:

  • A title page
  • Contents page
  • Introduction
  • Body of the essay
  • References and bibliography

Additionally, your research topic must fall into one of the six approved DP categories , or IB subject groups, which are as follows:

  • Group 1: Studies in Language and Literature
  • Group 2: Language Acquisition
  • Group 3: Individuals and Societies
  • Group 4: Sciences
  • Group 5: Mathematics
  • Group 6: The Arts

Once you figure out your category and have identified a potential research topic, it's time to pick your advisor, who is normally an IB teacher at your school (though you can also find one online ). This person will help direct your research, and they'll conduct the reflection sessions you'll have to do as part of your Extended Essay.

As of 2018, the IB requires a "reflection process" as part of your EE supervision process. To fulfill this requirement, you have to meet at least three times with your supervisor in what the IB calls "reflection sessions." These meetings are not only mandatory but are also part of the formal assessment of the EE and your research methods.

According to the IB, the purpose of these meetings is to "provide an opportunity for students to reflect on their engagement with the research process." Basically, these meetings give your supervisor the opportunity to offer feedback, push you to think differently, and encourage you to evaluate your research process.

The final reflection session is called the viva voce, and it's a short 10- to 15-minute interview between you and your advisor. This happens at the very end of the EE process, and it's designed to help your advisor write their report, which factors into your EE grade.

Here are the topics covered in your viva voce :

  • A check on plagiarism and malpractice
  • Your reflection on your project's successes and difficulties
  • Your reflection on what you've learned during the EE process

Your completed Extended Essay, along with your supervisor's report, will then be sent to the IB to be graded. We'll cover the assessment criteria in just a moment.

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We'll help you learn how to have those "lightbulb" moments...even on test day!  

What Should You Write About in Your IB Extended Essay?

You can technically write about anything, so long as it falls within one of the approved categories listed above.

It's best to choose a topic that matches one of the IB courses , (such as Theatre, Film, Spanish, French, Math, Biology, etc.), which shouldn't be difficult because there are so many class subjects.

Here is a range of sample topics with the attached extended essay:

  • Biology: The Effect of Age and Gender on the Photoreceptor Cells in the Human Retina
  • Chemistry: How Does Reflux Time Affect the Yield and Purity of Ethyl Aminobenzoate (Benzocaine), and How Effective is Recrystallisation as a Purification Technique for This Compound?
  • English: An Exploration of Jane Austen's Use of the Outdoors in Emma
  • Geography: The Effect of Location on the Educational Attainment of Indigenous Secondary Students in Queensland, Australia
  • Math: Alhazen's Billiard Problem
  • Visual Arts: Can Luc Tuymans Be Classified as a Political Painter?

You can see from how varied the topics are that you have a lot of freedom when it comes to picking a topic . So how do you pick when the options are limitless?

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How to Write a Stellar IB Extended Essay: 6 Essential Tips

Below are six key tips to keep in mind as you work on your Extended Essay for the IB DP. Follow these and you're sure to get an A!

#1: Write About Something You Enjoy

You can't expect to write a compelling essay if you're not a fan of the topic on which you're writing. For example, I just love British theatre and ended up writing my Extended Essay on a revolution in post-WWII British theatre. (Yes, I'm definitely a #TheatreNerd.)

I really encourage anyone who pursues an IB Diploma to take the Extended Essay seriously. I was fortunate enough to receive a full-tuition merit scholarship to USC's School of Dramatic Arts program. In my interview for the scholarship, I spoke passionately about my Extended Essay; thus, I genuinely think my Extended Essay helped me get my scholarship.

But how do you find a topic you're passionate about? Start by thinking about which classes you enjoy the most and why . Do you like math classes because you like to solve problems? Or do you enjoy English because you like to analyze literary texts?

Keep in mind that there's no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing your Extended Essay topic. You're not more likely to get high marks because you're writing about science, just like you're not doomed to failure because you've chosen to tackle the social sciences. The quality of what you produce—not the field you choose to research within—will determine your grade.

Once you've figured out your category, you should brainstorm more specific topics by putting pen to paper . What was your favorite chapter you learned in that class? Was it astrophysics or mechanics? What did you like about that specific chapter? Is there something you want to learn more about? I recommend spending a few hours on this type of brainstorming.

One last note: if you're truly stumped on what to research, pick a topic that will help you in your future major or career . That way you can use your Extended Essay as a talking point in your college essays (and it will prepare you for your studies to come too!).

#2: Select a Topic That Is Neither Too Broad nor Too Narrow

There's a fine line between broad and narrow. You need to write about something specific, but not so specific that you can't write 4,000 words on it.

You can't write about WWII because that would be a book's worth of material. You also don't want to write about what type of soup prisoners of war received behind enemy lines, because you probably won’t be able to come up with 4,000 words of material about it. However, you could possibly write about how the conditions in German POW camps—and the rations provided—were directly affected by the Nazis' successes and failures on the front, including the use of captured factories and prison labor in Eastern Europe to increase production. WWII military history might be a little overdone, but you get my point.

If you're really stuck trying to pinpoint a not-too-broad-or-too-narrow topic, I suggest trying to brainstorm a topic that uses a comparison. Once you begin looking through the list of sample essays below, you'll notice that many use comparisons to formulate their main arguments.

I also used a comparison in my EE, contrasting Harold Pinter's Party Time with John Osborne's Look Back in Anger in order to show a transition in British theatre. Topics with comparisons of two to three plays, books, and so on tend to be the sweet spot. You can analyze each item and then compare them with one another after doing some in-depth analysis of each individually. The ways these items compare and contrast will end up forming the thesis of your essay!

When choosing a comparative topic, the key is that the comparison should be significant. I compared two plays to illustrate the transition in British theatre, but you could compare the ways different regional dialects affect people's job prospects or how different temperatures may or may not affect the mating patterns of lightning bugs. The point here is that comparisons not only help you limit your topic, but they also help you build your argument.

Comparisons are not the only way to get a grade-A EE, though. If after brainstorming, you pick a non-comparison-based topic and are still unsure whether your topic is too broad or narrow, spend about 30 minutes doing some basic research and see how much material is out there.

If there are more than 1,000 books, articles, or documentaries out there on that exact topic, it may be too broad. But if there are only two books that have any connection to your topic, it may be too narrow. If you're still unsure, ask your advisor—it's what they're there for! Speaking of advisors...

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Don't get stuck with a narrow topic!

#3: Choose an Advisor Who Is Familiar With Your Topic

If you're not certain of who you would like to be your advisor, create a list of your top three choices. Next, write down the pros and cons of each possibility (I know this sounds tedious, but it really helps!).

For example, Mr. Green is my favorite teacher and we get along really well, but he teaches English. For my EE, I want to conduct an experiment that compares the efficiency of American electric cars with foreign electric cars.

I had Ms. White a year ago. She teaches physics and enjoyed having me in her class. Unlike Mr. Green, Ms. White could help me design my experiment.

Based on my topic and what I need from my advisor, Ms. White would be a better fit for me than would Mr. Green (even though I like him a lot).

The moral of my story is this: do not just ask your favorite teacher to be your advisor . They might be a hindrance to you if they teach another subject. For example, I would not recommend asking your biology teacher to guide you in writing an English literature-based EE.

There can, of course, be exceptions to this rule. If you have a teacher who's passionate and knowledgeable about your topic (as my English teacher was about my theatre topic), you could ask that instructor. Consider all your options before you do this. There was no theatre teacher at my high school, so I couldn't find a theatre-specific advisor, but I chose the next best thing.

Before you approach a teacher to serve as your advisor, check with your high school to see what requirements they have for this process. Some IB high schools require your IB Extended Essay advisor to sign an Agreement Form , for instance.

Make sure that you ask your IB coordinator whether there is any required paperwork to fill out. If your school needs a specific form signed, bring it with you when you ask your teacher to be your EE advisor.

#4: Pick an Advisor Who Will Push You to Be Your Best

Some teachers might just take on students because they have to and aren't very passionate about reading drafts, only giving you minimal feedback. Choose a teacher who will take the time to read several drafts of your essay and give you extensive notes. I would not have gotten my A without being pushed to make my Extended Essay draft better.

Ask a teacher that you have experience with through class or an extracurricular activity. Do not ask a teacher that you have absolutely no connection to. If a teacher already knows you, that means they already know your strengths and weaknesses, so they know what to look for, where you need to improve, and how to encourage your best work.

Also, don't forget that your supervisor's assessment is part of your overall EE score . If you're meeting with someone who pushes you to do better—and you actually take their advice—they'll have more impressive things to say about you than a supervisor who doesn't know you well and isn't heavily involved in your research process.

Be aware that the IB only allows advisors to make suggestions and give constructive criticism. Your teacher cannot actually help you write your EE. The IB recommends that the supervisor spends approximately two to three hours in total with the candidate discussing the EE.

#5: Make Sure Your Essay Has a Clear Structure and Flow

The IB likes structure. Your EE needs a clear introduction (which should be one to two double-spaced pages), research question/focus (i.e., what you're investigating), a body, and a conclusion (about one double-spaced page). An essay with unclear organization will be graded poorly.

The body of your EE should make up the bulk of the essay. It should be about eight to 18 pages long (again, depending on your topic). Your body can be split into multiple parts. For example, if you were doing a comparison, you might have one third of your body as Novel A Analysis, another third as Novel B Analysis, and the final third as your comparison of Novels A and B.

If you're conducting an experiment or analyzing data, such as in this EE , your EE body should have a clear structure that aligns with the scientific method ; you should state the research question, discuss your method, present the data, analyze the data, explain any uncertainties, and draw a conclusion and/or evaluate the success of the experiment.

#6: Start Writing Sooner Rather Than Later!

You will not be able to crank out a 4,000-word essay in just a week and get an A on it. You'll be reading many, many articles (and, depending on your topic, possibly books and plays as well!). As such, it's imperative that you start your research as soon as possible.

Each school has a slightly different deadline for the Extended Essay. Some schools want them as soon as November of your senior year; others will take them as late as February. Your school will tell you what your deadline is. If they haven't mentioned it by February of your junior year, ask your IB coordinator about it.

Some high schools will provide you with a timeline of when you need to come up with a topic, when you need to meet with your advisor, and when certain drafts are due. Not all schools do this. Ask your IB coordinator if you are unsure whether you are on a specific timeline.

Below is my recommended EE timeline. While it's earlier than most schools, it'll save you a ton of heartache (trust me, I remember how hard this process was!):

  • January/February of Junior Year: Come up with your final research topic (or at least your top three options).
  • February of Junior Year: Approach a teacher about being your EE advisor. If they decline, keep asking others until you find one. See my notes above on how to pick an EE advisor.
  • April/May of Junior Year: Submit an outline of your EE and a bibliography of potential research sources (I recommend at least seven to 10) to your EE advisor. Meet with your EE advisor to discuss your outline.
  • Summer Between Junior and Senior Year: Complete your first full draft over the summer between your junior and senior year. I know, I know—no one wants to work during the summer, but trust me—this will save you so much stress come fall when you are busy with college applications and other internal assessments for your IB classes. You will want to have this first full draft done because you will want to complete a couple of draft cycles as you likely won't be able to get everything you want to say into 4,000 articulate words on the first attempt. Try to get this first draft into the best possible shape so you don't have to work on too many revisions during the school year on top of your homework, college applications, and extracurriculars.
  • August/September of Senior Year: Turn in your first draft of your EE to your advisor and receive feedback. Work on incorporating their feedback into your essay. If they have a lot of suggestions for improvement, ask if they will read one more draft before the final draft.
  • September/October of Senior Year: Submit the second draft of your EE to your advisor (if necessary) and look at their feedback. Work on creating the best possible final draft.
  • November-February of Senior Year: Schedule your viva voce. Submit two copies of your final draft to your school to be sent off to the IB. You likely will not get your grade until after you graduate.

Remember that in the middle of these milestones, you'll need to schedule two other reflection sessions with your advisor . (Your teachers will actually take notes on these sessions on a form like this one , which then gets submitted to the IB.)

I recommend doing them when you get feedback on your drafts, but these meetings will ultimately be up to your supervisor. Just don't forget to do them!

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The early bird DOES get the worm!

How Is the IB Extended Essay Graded?

Extended Essays are graded by examiners appointed by the IB on a scale of 0 to 34 . You'll be graded on five criteria, each with its own set of points. You can learn more about how EE scoring works by reading the IB guide to extended essays .

  • Criterion A: Focus and Method (6 points maximum)
  • Criterion B: Knowledge and Understanding (6 points maximum)
  • Criterion C: Critical Thinking (12 points maximum)
  • Criterion D: Presentation (4 points maximum)
  • Criterion E: Engagement (6 points maximum)

How well you do on each of these criteria will determine the final letter grade you get for your EE. You must earn at least a D to be eligible to receive your IB Diploma.

Although each criterion has a point value, the IB explicitly states that graders are not converting point totals into grades; instead, they're using qualitative grade descriptors to determine the final grade of your Extended Essay . Grade descriptors are on pages 102-103 of this document .

Here's a rough estimate of how these different point values translate to letter grades based on previous scoring methods for the EE. This is just an estimate —you should read and understand the grade descriptors so you know exactly what the scorers are looking for.

Here is the breakdown of EE scores (from the May 2021 bulletin):

How Does the Extended Essay Grade Affect Your IB Diploma?

The Extended Essay grade is combined with your TOK (Theory of Knowledge) grade to determine how many points you get toward your IB Diploma.

To learn about Theory of Knowledge or how many points you need to receive an IB Diploma, read our complete guide to the IB program and our guide to the IB Diploma requirements .

This diagram shows how the two scores are combined to determine how many points you receive for your IB diploma (3 being the most, 0 being the least). In order to get your IB Diploma, you have to earn 24 points across both categories (the TOK and EE). The highest score anyone can earn is 45 points.

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Let's say you get an A on your EE and a B on TOK. You will get 3 points toward your Diploma. As of 2014, a student who scores an E on either the extended essay or TOK essay will not be eligible to receive an IB Diploma .

Prior to the class of 2010, a Diploma candidate could receive a failing grade in either the Extended Essay or Theory of Knowledge and still be awarded a Diploma, but this is no longer true.

Figuring out how you're assessed can be a little tricky. Luckily, the IB breaks everything down here in this document . (The assessment information begins on page 219.)

40+ Sample Extended Essays for the IB Diploma Programme

In case you want a little more guidance on how to get an A on your EE, here are over 40 excellent (grade A) sample extended essays for your reading pleasure. Essays are grouped by IB subject.

  • Business Management 1
  • Chemistry 1
  • Chemistry 2
  • Chemistry 3
  • Chemistry 4
  • Chemistry 5
  • Chemistry 6
  • Chemistry 7
  • Computer Science 1
  • Economics 1
  • Design Technology 1
  • Design Technology 2
  • Environmental Systems and Societies 1
  • Geography 1
  • Geography 2
  • Geography 3
  • Geography 4
  • Geography 5
  • Geography 6
  • Literature and Performance 1
  • Mathematics 1
  • Mathematics 2
  • Mathematics 3
  • Mathematics 4
  • Mathematics 5
  • Philosophy 1
  • Philosophy 2
  • Philosophy 3
  • Philosophy 4
  • Philosophy 5
  • Psychology 1
  • Psychology 2
  • Psychology 3
  • Psychology 4
  • Psychology 5
  • Social and Cultural Anthropology 1
  • Social and Cultural Anthropology 2
  • Social and Cultural Anthropology 3
  • Sports, Exercise and Health Science 1
  • Sports, Exercise and Health Science 2
  • Visual Arts 1
  • Visual Arts 2
  • Visual Arts 3
  • Visual Arts 4
  • Visual Arts 5
  • World Religion 1
  • World Religion 2
  • World Religion 3

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Trying to figure out what extracurriculars you should do? Learn more about participating in the Science Olympiad , starting a club , doing volunteer work , and joining Student Government .

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Not sure where you want to go to college? Read our guide to finding your target school . Also, determine your target SAT score or target ACT score .

Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points?   We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download them for free now:

As an SAT/ACT tutor, Dora has guided many students to test prep success. She loves watching students succeed and is committed to helping you get there. Dora received a full-tuition merit based scholarship to University of Southern California. She graduated magna cum laude and scored in the 99th percentile on the ACT. She is also passionate about acting, writing, and photography.

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50+ IB ESS Extended Essay Topic Ideas

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Hey ya, I know that you have been searching for a list of good IB ESS extended essay topics, haven’t you? My team has collected this awesome list of more than 50 completely different options that can be used for inspiration while working on your Environmental Systems and Societies EE for IB.

Today, I will share this list curated by our IB professionals from Writing Metier team.

For your ease, I have created this list of categories that will be used for navigation through the article. I believe it will surely help you find an option or at least inspiration 😉

Categories of IB ESS EE Topics

Climate change.

  • Impacts of Climate Change on Biodiversity : Examining the effects of climate change on species diversity in a specific ecosystem.
  • Mitigation Strategies for Climate Change : Analyzing the effectiveness of various strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Climate Change and Human Health : Investigating the relationship between climate change and the prevalence of diseases.

Water Resources

  • Water Scarcity and Conservation : Exploring the causes of water scarcity and evaluating conservation methods in a specific region.
  • Water Quality and Pollution : Assessing the impact of pollution on water quality and aquatic life in a freshwater system.
  • Sustainable Water Management : Examining sustainable water management practices in agriculture or urban areas.

Energy Resources

  • Renewable Energy Solutions : Evaluating the potential of renewable energy sources (e.g., solar, wind) in a specific region.
  • Impact of Fossil Fuels on the Environment : Analyzing the environmental consequences of fossil fuel extraction and consumption.
  • Energy Efficiency and Conservation : Investigating strategies for improving energy efficiency in homes or industries.

Biodiversity and Conservation

  • Habitat Loss and Fragmentation : Examining the impact of human activities on habitat loss and its effect on biodiversity.
  • Invasive Species and Ecosystems : Investigating the impact of invasive species on native ecosystems and biodiversity.
  • Conservation Strategies for Endangered Species : Evaluating the effectiveness of conservation strategies for a specific endangered species.

Pollution and Waste Management

  • Plastic Pollution in Marine Environments : Assessing the impact of plastic pollution on marine ecosystems and species.
  • Air Quality and Urban Pollution : Investigating the sources and effects of air pollution in a specific urban area.
  • Sustainable Waste Management Practices : Evaluating the effectiveness of sustainable waste management practices in reducing environmental impact.

Agriculture and Food Systems

  • Sustainable Agriculture Practices : Examining the environmental benefits of sustainable agriculture practices (e.g., organic farming, agroforestry).
  • Impact of Pesticides on the Environment : Analyzing the ecological consequences of pesticide use in agriculture.
  • Food Security and Climate Change : Investigating the relationship between climate change and food security in a specific region.

Human Population and Environment

  • Urbanization and Environmental Impact : Exploring the environmental challenges posed by rapid urbanization in a specific city.
  • Ecological Footprint and Sustainability : Assessing the ecological footprint of a specific community and exploring ways to reduce it.
  • Population Growth and Natural Resources : Investigating the impact of population growth on the availability and sustainability of natural resources.

In the next section, I’m going to stick to these categories.

IB ESS Extended Essay Topic Ideas

ess extended essay topics

No more introductions and no needed words; here are three unique and manageable topics with corresponding research questions for each subcategory in IB Environmental Systems and Societies, designed to meet the IB Extended Essay criteria . Ready? Let’s go!

Welcome to the section on Climate Change, where we examine the impacts of global warming on our planet. This area challenges us to understand the changes happening around us and to consider solutions for a sustainable future.

Impacts of Climate Change on Biodiversity

  • Research Question: How do increasing sea surface temperatures associated with climate change affect the biodiversity of coral reef ecosystems?
  • Research Question: How has climate change impacted the migratory patterns and habitats of bird species in a specific region?
  • Research Question: How does the melting of glaciers due to climate change influence the biodiversity of alpine ecosystems?

Mitigation Strategies for Climate Change

  • Research Question: How effective are urban green spaces in sequestering carbon dioxide and mitigating urban heat island effects?
  • Research Question: What is the potential of afforestation projects in reducing atmospheric CO2 levels, and what are the challenges involved?
  • Research Question: How has the adoption of renewable energy sources impacted carbon emissions in a specific country or region?

Climate Change and Human Health

  • Research Question: How does climate change influence the prevalence and distribution of vector-borne diseases, such as malaria or dengue fever?
  • Research Question: What are the public health impacts of heatwaves in a specific urban area, and how can cities adapt to protect vulnerable populations?
  • Research Question: How does climate change affect global food security, and what measures can be taken to ensure food availability?

From the atmospheric concerns of climate change, we move to the vital element of life: water. In the Water Resources section, we’ll explore challenges and solutions related to water scarcity, quality, and management.

In this section, we focus on Water Resources, looking at the issues surrounding the availability and quality of water . It’s an opportunity to explore sustainable management practices and ensure access for all.

Water Scarcity and Conservation

  • Research Question: How do agricultural practices contribute to water scarcity in arid regions, and what sustainable solutions can be implemented?
  • Research Question: What are the most effective urban water conservation strategies, and how have they impacted water usage in a specific city?
  • Research Question: How effective is desalination as a solution to water scarcity in coastal regions, and what are its environmental impacts?

Water Quality and Pollution

  • Research Question: How do industrial effluents affect the water quality and aquatic life of a specific river?
  • Research Question: How does agricultural runoff contribute to eutrophication in freshwater lakes, and what measures can mitigate its impact?
  • Research Question: What are the main sources of microplastics in marine ecosystems, and how do they impact marine life and human health?

Sustainable Water Management

  • Research Question: How effective are rainwater harvesting systems in enhancing water sustainability in urban areas?
  • Research Question: How does integrated water resources management (IWRM) improve water sustainability in a specific river basin?
  • Research Question: How do wetlands contribute to water purification and conservation, and what are the challenges in protecting these ecosystems?

Transitioning from water, we turn our attention to Energy Resources. Here, we’ll investigate the balance between meeting our energy needs and minimizing environmental impacts.

The Energy Resources section tackles the complexities of powering our world.

From renewable sources to the consequences of fossil fuels, this area encourages us to think about the future of energy and its role in environmental sustainability.

Renewable Energy Solutions

  • Research Question: How feasible is solar energy as a solution for rural electrification in a specific developing country?
  • Research Question: What is the potential of wind energy in coastal regions, and what challenges need to be addressed for its successful implementation?
  • Research Question: What are the social and environmental impacts of hydropower projects on local communities and ecosystems in a specific region?

Impact of Fossil Fuels on the Environment

  • Research Question: What are the short-term and long-term environmental consequences of oil spills in marine ecosystems?
  • Research Question: How does air pollution from coal power plants affect the health of nearby communities, and what mitigation measures can be implemented?
  • Research Question: What is the ecological footprint of natural gas extraction in a specific region, and how does it impact local ecosystems?

Energy Efficiency and Conservation

  • Research Question: How do energy-efficient buildings contribute to reducing carbon emissions in urban areas?
  • Research Question: How effective are energy conservation programs in reducing energy consumption in schools, and what are the key factors for success?
  • Research Question: What strategies are most effective in promoting energy efficiency in transportation, and how do they compare across different regions?

Next, we explore the Biodiversity and Conservation, where we’ll examine the rich diversity of life on Earth and the efforts to protect it.

Biodiversity and Conservation celebrate the diversity of life and examine the threats it faces. It’s an opportunity to understand the importance of conservation efforts in maintaining ecosystem health.

Habitat Loss and Fragmentation

  • Research Question: How does deforestation affect biodiversity and ecosystem services in the Amazon Rainforest?
  • Research Question: How does urbanization contribute to habitat fragmentation and its effects on wildlife populations in a specific region?
  • Research Question: How effective are protected areas in mitigating habitat loss and conserving biodiversity in a specific region?

Invasive Species and Ecosystems

  • Research Question: What are the ecological impacts of a specific invasive plant species on native vegetation and ecosystem dynamics?
  • Research Question: How do invasive aquatic species affect the biodiversity and functioning of freshwater ecosystems?
  • Research Question: What are the most effective management strategies for controlling invasive species in protected areas, and what are the challenges involved?

Conservation Strategies for Endangered Species

  • Research Question: How effective are captive breeding programs in contributing to the conservation of endangered species?
  • Research Question: How does community-based conservation impact the protection and recovery of endangered species in a specific region?
  • Research Question: How do wildlife corridors contribute to enhancing biodiversity conservation and facilitating species movement in fragmented landscapes?

From the natural world, we move to human impacts in the Pollution and Waste Management section. Here, we’ll look at the challenges of pollution and strategies for effective waste management.

Pollution and Waste Management confront the consequences of our consumption and explore ways to reduce our environmental footprint.

It’s a critical area that requires appropriate management knowledge to ensure a cleaner and healthier planet.

Plastic Pollution in Marine Environments

  • Research Question: What are the main sources of microplastics in coastal waters, and how are they distributed across different marine habitats?
  • Research Question: How does plastic pollution affect marine wildlife and ecosystems, and what are the long-term consequences?
  • Research Question: What are the most effective strategies for reducing plastic pollution in marine environments, and how can they be implemented?

Air Quality and Urban Pollution

  • Research Question: How do vehicle emissions contribute to air pollution in urban areas, and what measures can reduce their impact?
  • Research Question: How does indoor air quality in urban settings affect human health, and what factors contribute to poor air quality?
  • Research Question: How does green infrastructure, such as urban parks and green roofs, contribute to improving air quality in cities?

Sustainable Waste Management Practices

  • Research Question: How effective are zero waste initiatives in reducing the generation of municipal solid waste, and what are the key factors for success?
  • Research Question: What are the challenges and opportunities in managing and recycling e-waste, and how can sustainable practices be promoted?
  • Research Question: How effective is composting as a sustainable waste management practice in urban areas, and what are the factors influencing its adoption?

From waste management, we shift to the source of our sustenance in Agriculture and Food Systems. This section will focus on the environmental aspects of how we produce and consume food.

Agriculture and Food Systems examine the link between farming practices and environmental sustainability.

It’s a chance to explore how we can feed the world while protecting our planet.

Sustainable Agriculture Practices

  • Research Question: How do the environmental impacts of organic farming compare to those of conventional farming practices?
  • Research Question: How does agroforestry contribute to biodiversity conservation and soil health in agricultural landscapes?
  • Research Question: How does the adoption of sustainable agriculture practices impact food security in developing countries?

Impact of Pesticides on the Environment

  • Research Question: How do neonicotinoid pesticides affect the health and populations of pollinators, such as bees and butterflies?
  • Research Question: What are the effects of pesticide runoff on aquatic ecosystems and the organisms that inhabit them?
  • Research Question: What are the most effective alternatives to chemical pesticides in integrated pest management (IPM) strategies?

Food Security and Climate Change

  • Research Question: How does climate change impact crop yields and food production in a specific agricultural region?
  • Research Question: How does climate-smart agriculture contribute to enhancing food security in the face of climate change?
  • Research Question: How does water scarcity affect food security in arid regions, and what strategies can be implemented to address this challenge?

Finally, we’ll consider the broader context of Human Population and Environment, looking at how our growing numbers interact with the natural world.

Human Population and Environment reflect on the relationship between people and the planet. It’s an area that challenges us to think about how we can live in harmony with the environment as our global population continues to grow.

After this read, you can also check our article about anthropology extended essay topics and various research question ideas.

Urbanization and Environmental Impact

  • Research Question: What are the environmental consequences of rapid urbanization in a specific developing country, and how can they be mitigated?
  • Research Question: How does sustainable urban planning contribute to reducing the environmental impact of cities?
  • Research Question: What is the role of green spaces in promoting biodiversity and environmental sustainability in urban environments?

Ecological Footprint and Sustainability

  • Research Question: How do different diets (e.g., vegetarian, vegan, omnivorous) compare in terms of their ecological footprint?
  • Research Question: How does consumer behavior in a specific region affect the ecological footprint, and what strategies can promote more sustainable consumption patterns?
  • Research Question: What measures can be taken to reduce the ecological footprint of tourism in protected areas while preserving their natural and cultural heritage?

Population Growth and Natural Resources

  • Research Question: How does population growth contribute to water resource depletion in a specific region, and what are the implications for sustainable water management?
  • Research Question: How does population growth affect deforestation rates in tropical rainforests, and what are the consequences for biodiversity conservation?
  • Research Question: How can sustainable resource management practices address the challenges posed by population growth in a specific region?

Each of these topics and research questions aims to inspire IB ESS students to explore the complexities of environmental systems and societies and contribute to the understanding of global environmental challenges. 

Whether you are interested in the intricacies of climate change, the sustainability of water resources, or biodiversity conservation, these topics provide a solid foundation for an insightful and impactful Extended Essay in ESS.

You can also check our similar articles:

  • Philosophy extended essay topics
  • Anthropology extended essay topics
  • IB Psychology Extended Essay Topics and Research Questions

Film Extended Essay Topic Ideas for IB Diploma

  • List of 50+ Music Extended Essay Topic Ideas

English B Extended Essay Topic Ideas

  • Global Politics Extended Essay Topics and Research Questions

This walkthrough of the various aspects of environmental systems and societies is not just about understanding the challenges we face; it’s about inspiring action for a sustainable future. Every category offers a unique perspective on the environmental issues that shape our world and invites us to think critically about the solutions.

Select IB ESS EE Topics and RQs Wisely

This is the end of our discussion of IB Environmental Systems and Societies Extended Essay topics; I hope you’re feeling motivated and ready to investigate your chosen area of interest. ESS is not just about uncovering answers; it’s about developing the skill to ask meaningful questions. 

At Writing Metier, we are committed to supporting you as you explore the complexities of your research and writing tasks. Our team of experts is here to offer guidance, provide feedback, and assist you with writing your extended essay or any other IB assignments on any topic. 

As you select your topic and initiate your research, remember that you’re starting an intellectual quest that promises to broaden your perspective and deepen your appreciation for environmental issues. 

With Writing Metier by your side, your exploration into environmental systems and societies is more than an academic requirement; it’s an opportunity to engage meaningfully with critical questions that impact our planet.

Free topic suggestions

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Vasyl Kafidoff is a co-founder and CEO at WritingMetier. He is interested in education and how modern technology makes it more accessible. He wants to bring awareness about new learning possibilities as an educational specialist. When Vasy is not working, he’s found behind a drum kit.

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World Studies Extended Essay: Examples

  • Introduction
  • Getting Started
  • Global Themes
  • Interdisciplinary Research
  • What Makes Up a "Discipline"?
  • Evaluating the Insights of Academic Disciplines
  • Multiple Forms of Integration
  • Evaluating Your Essay
  • Common Stumbling Blocks
  • Examples of Globally Conscious Students

Examples of interdisciplinary research

Interdisciplinary research projects can vary extensively in content and extent of material covered.  Here are two examples:

WSEE Example 1 - IB Subjects: ESS (Environmental systems and societies) and Economics WSEE Example 2 - IB Subjects: Economics, Biology, Political science

WSEE Example 1 - IB Subjects: ESS (Environmental systems and societies) and Economics

A student assesses the effectiveness and viability of the environmentally friendly method of "cleaner production". He focused on a specific ceramic tile manufacturer in China, placing this local case in the context of global environmental sustainability. He used concepts from environmental systems and societies such as “end-of-pipe protection” and “cyclonic separation”, as well as tools such as a “water balance flow diagram” and an “analysis of pollution or inefficiency” to assess the potential environmental advantages of adopting a cleaner production approach. He also incorporated the financial tool of “net present value” (NPV) to appraise the viability of a long-term project such as pollution control. Through his study, he convincingly demonstrated that cleaner production makes environmental as well as financial sense for companies.

WSEE Example 2 - IB Subjects: Economics, Biology, Political Science

A student studied the economic and cultural causes of infant malnutrition in the rural district of Maharashtra and considered the public health policies needed to tackle the problem. Her wide-ranging study incorporated knowledge and concepts from a range of disciplines including economics, the humanities, biology and political science. She developed a complex explanation of some of the causes and effects of malnutrition in this Indian state, taking into          account the interconnection between low maternal literacy levels, decreased government health spending and poor child nutrition when considering elevated levels of child malnutrition. She then applied this understanding to come up with policy recommendations.

WSEE Documents

WSEE Subject Guide and worksheets

  • IB EE Subject Guide - World Studies, 2018
  • Making Meaningful Connections Use this worksheet to help you think about your research plans: the concepts or methods your will be using, the global topic you're focusing on, and the academic disciplines you will be using.

RRS (Researcher's Reflection Space)

  • Sample Prompts for the WSEE RRS What should you write in your RRS? Use these questions and prompts to help you think through the various stages of the research for your WSEE: your initial ideas, your thoughts and reflections during the process, and your conclusions.
  • RRS Example B - World Studies

RPPF (Researcher's Planning and Progress Form) examples:

  • RPPF Example 5 - World Studies
  • RPPF Example 7 - World Studies

IB Extended Essay Guide & Timeline

Check the Extended Essay guide for specific guidance on completing the various steps in the research and writing process of the EE, and  these documents:

extended essay ess

  • << Previous: Interdisciplinary Research
  • Next: Academic Lenses >>
  • Last Updated: Sep 19, 2022 9:16 AM
  • URL: https://libguides.westsoundacademy.org/wsee

IB ESS by Science Sauce

Here on Science Sauce you’ll find a 9-mark essay task for each chapter, reflective of the Paper 2 Section B essay questions. You’ll find the resources at the bottom of each chapter page (go to the home page and select a chapter).

Each essay has a PDF version (for printing) and a Google Docs version (to set as an assignment on Google Classroom).

Clicking on a Google Docs essay link will lead you to a view-only version. Simply make a copy to your own drive then share it on Google Classroom.

In paper 2 there are two 9-mark questions that are marked using markbands. You can find these markbands in the subject guide and there is also a version here on Science Sauce. If you see the assignments on Google Classroom you might find it easier to use the Google Classroom rubric.

Science Sauce markbands sheet

Google Classroom markbands rubric

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ENVIRONMENTAL SYSTEMS AND SOCIETIES EXTENDED ESSAY

extended essay ess

21 Jun ENVIRONMENTAL SYSTEMS AND SOCIETIES EXTENDED ESSAY

The extended essay (EE) is an integral part of the IB Diploma course. In order to write a good extended essay in ESS you need to first of all be interested in and passionate about the environment; and secondly be prepared to put in the hard work.

You will research and write about an environmental topic or issue of relevance to you and your environment. Your writing should cover the environmental system and how society functions – you must conduct an analytical argument.

Extended Essay Information Guide (from the IBO) Overview

Environmental issues are occupying a position of increasing significance on the world agenda, and an extended essay in environmental systems and societies provides students with an opportunity to explore an environmental topic or issue of particular interest or relevance to themselves and their localities.

You will be expected to: • integrate theoretical contexts and methodologies with academic disciplines appropriate to the chosen topic • use a systems approach in the analysis and interpretation of their data.

An extended essay in Environmental Systems and Societies provides you with the opportunity to explore questions in terrestrial, freshwater or marine environments. The characteristic nature of an essay in this subject will lie in the application of a systems approach to an environmental issue.

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IB Extended Essay: Assessment Criteria

  • Research Questions
  • Past Essays
  • Notes & Outlines
  • Works Cited Page
  • In-Text Citations
  • Assessment Criteria
  • Reflections
  • Supervisor Info
  • Net Valley Library This link opens in a new window

extended essay ess

Score Descriptors for each Criterion:

  • A - Focus and Method
  • B - Knowledge and Understanding
  • C - Critical Thinking
  • D - Presentation
  • E - Engagement

Printable: Full Rubric  for all subjects

To view details for your SUBJECT, open the correct page below.

  • Choose "Interpreting the EE Assessment Criteria" on the sidebar to see how to score well in YOUR subject area

extended essay ess

Language & literature (language A)

Language acquisition (language B)

Mathematics

Visual Arts

World Studies

Business Management

Grade Boundaries

extended essay ess

What's Expected?

  • A: Focus/Method
  • B: Knowledge
  • C: Critical Thinking
  • D: Presentation
  • E: Engagement
  • A: Focus and Method (6 marks)
  • B: Knowledge and Understanding (6 marks)
  • C: Critical Thinking (12 marks)
  • D: Presentation (4 marks)
  • E: Engagement (6 marks)
  • Total marks possible: 34 (see grade boundaries below)
  • Printable:  Full Rubric
  • Printable: A3 size with details
  • Printable:  Details for each criterion , via the Oxford guide

extended essay ess

Criterion A:  Focus and Method (6 points)

What It Means:   This criterion focuses on the topic, the research question and the methodology. It assesses the explanation of the focus of the research (this includes the topic and the research question), how the research will be undertaken, and how the focus is maintained throughout the essay.

Questions to ask:  

  • Does this essay meet the requirements for the subject for which you are registering it?
  • Is your research question stated as a question?
  • Have you explained how your research question relates to the subject that you selected for the extended essay?
  • Have you given an insight into why your area of study is important?
  • Is your research question feasible within the scope of the task? Could your research question be “answered” or it is too vague?
  • Did you refer to your research question throughout the essay (not only in the introduction and conclusion)?
  • Did you explain why you selected your methodology?
  • Are there other possible methods that could be used or applied to answer your research question? How might this change the direction of your research?
  • If you stated a particular methodology in the introduction of your essay, or specific sources, have you used them?
  • Are there any references listed in the bibliography that were not directly cited in the text?

(Source: Susan Trower, via West Sound Academy)

extended essay ess

Criterion B:  Knowledge and Understanding (6 points)

What It Means:   This criterion assesses the extent to which the research relates to the subject area/discipline used to explore the research question; or in the case of the world studies extended essay, the issue addressed and the two disciplinary perspectives applied; and additionally, the way in which this knowledge and understanding is demonstrated through the use of appropriate terminology and concepts.

  • Have you explained how your research question relates to a specific subject you selected for the extended essay?
  • Have you used relevant terminology and concepts throughout your essay as they relate to your particular area of research?
  • Is it clear that the sources you are using are relevant and appropriate to your research question?
  • Do you have a range of sources, or have you only relied on one particular type, for example internet sources?
  • Is there a reason why you might not have a range? Is this justified?

extended essay ess

(Source: Oxford EE manual, p. 110)

extended essay ess

Criterion C:  Critical Thinking (12 points)

What It Means:   This criterion assesses the extent to which critical thinking skills have been used to analyze and evaluate the research undertaken.

  • Have you made links between your results and data collected and your research question?
  • If you included data or information that is not directly related to your research question have you explained its importance?
  • Are your conclusions supported by your data?
  • If you found unexpected information or data have you discussed its importance?
  • Have you provided a critical evaluation of the methods you selected?
  • Have you considered the reliability of your sources (peer-reviewed journals, internet, and so on)?
  • Have you mentioned and evaluated the significance of possible errors that may have occurred in your research?
  • Are all your suggestions of errors or improvements relevant?
  • Have you evaluated your research question?
  • Have you compared your results or findings with any other sources?
  • Is there an argument that is clear and easy to follow and directly linked to answering your research question, and which is supported by evidence? Are there other possible methods that could be used or applied to answer your research question? How might this change the direction of your research?

extended essay ess

(Source: Oxford EE Manual p. 111)

Handy Links:

  • Presentation One Pager  via Catalina Bordoy
  • Presentation Checklist
  • Sample Title page   (see below - top half of the page)

extended essay ess

Criterion D:  Presentation ( 4 points)

What It Means:   This criterion assesses the extent to which the presentation follows the standard format expected for academic writing and the extent to which this aids effective communication.

  • Have you read and understood the presentation requirements of the extended essay?
  • Have you chosen a font that will be easy for examiners to read on-screen?
  • Is your essay double-spaced and size 12 font?
  • Are the title and research question mentioned on the cover page?
  • Are all pages numbered?
  • Have you prepared a correct table of contents?
  • Do the page numbers in the table of contents match the page numbers in the text?
  • Is your essay subdivided into correct sub-sections, if this is applicable to the subject?
  • Are all figures and tables properly numbered and labelled?
  • Does your bibliography contain only the sources cited in the text?
  • Did you use the same reference system throughout the essay?
  • Does the essay have less than 4,000 words?
  • Is all the material presented in the appendices relevant and necessary?
  • Have you proofread the text for spelling or grammar errors?

Criterion E: Engagement

  • Three reflections (best after meeting with your supervisor)
  • 500 words TOTAL (100 + 150 + 250?)
  • Reflections are done in Managebac on your Reflection space
  • See the "Reflections" tab above for prompts to write about

extended essay ess

(Source: Oxford EE Manual p.135)

extended essay ess

(Source: Oxford EE Manual p.133)

  • Sample Reflections
  • Full chapter on Reflections from the Oxford Guide

Criterion E:  Engagement (6 points)

What It Means:   This criterion assesses the student’s engagement with their research focus and the research process. It will be applied by the examiner at the end of the assessment of the essay, after considering the student’s RPPF (Reflections on planning and progress form).

  • Have you demonstrated your engagement with your research topic and the research process?
  • Have you highlighted challenges you faced and how you overcame them?
  • Will the examiner get a sense of your intellectual and skills development?
  • Will the examiner get a sense of your creativity and intellectual initiative?
  • For prompts to deepen your reflections, go  here  and then to the bottom of the page
  • Presentation Quick Guide
  • << Previous: In-Text Citations
  • Next: Reflections >>
  • Last Updated: Apr 9, 2024 9:39 AM
  • URL: https://sis-cn.libguides.com/ExtendedEssay

Extended Essay Guide: Criteria, Format, Sample EEs

  • Criteria, Format, Sample EEs
  • Annotated Bibliographies
  • DP Research Process
  • Databases & Academic Journals
  • Evaluate Sources
  • Academic Integrity
  • MLA Citation Format
  • CSE Citation Format (Science & Math)
  • Video Tutorials 2024

The Assessment Crtiteria in Detail!

  • Criterion A: Focus and method
  • Criterion B: Knowledge and understanding
  • Criterion C: Critical Thinking
  • Criterion D: Presentation
  • Criterion E: Engagement
  • EE_How to maximize marks for different subjects?

extended essay ess

  • Criterion C: Critical thinking

Notes from the IB

RE: Research Question and Title of Extended Essay

Please note the statement below from the EE curriculum manager regarding the need to have both a title and a RQ for all subjects. Previous versions of the EE Guide indicated that the title and the RQ should be the same for History, Business Management and Mathematics. This is no longer the case.  All essays, regardless of the subject, need to have both a RQ and a title.

Hi Kathy, 

To answer your question, I am going to quote directly from a response John Royce provided, on this forum, in October in response to a very similar question: (it was a question about using Spanish sources - hence the mention of Spanish)

It is certainly  permissible to use sources which are not in the language of the essay, but translation into the target language is required , one cannot assume that the reader understands the original language.

It is usual to quote the original as well as presenting the translation.  [Do not put quotation marks around your translation, just around the original]

Umberto Eco argues ("in Mouse or rat?") that direct translation may lose meaning, paraphrase or use of different idioms may be required to get the ideas across. Paul Bellos ("Is that a fish in your ear?") makes a similar argument - direct translation may confound meaning... Direct translation may not be ideal - meaning and understanding are preferred - so, not to worry that your student with her good Spanish cannot present a direct translation.

What  must be made clear is that the translations are those of the student;  these are her understandings. Readers can make of that what they will - and if unsure, are presented with the original - they can seek another translation.  A note in the acknowledgements and/or in the introduction to the effect that all translations are those of the writer is ... essential.

In response to the question about the  Bibliography/Works cited, my preference would be to list the source in its original Thai version, but perhaps with the English in brackets, to help the examiner.

Your bibliography will have the entries in Thai characters first in the document. Any in-text citation to Thai sources will be in (Thai characters [English translation]).

Citation in Thai [English translation]

Works Cited Example:

วงษ์ปัญญา, ธนกร [Wongpunya, Thanakorn]. “โรงงานยาสูบรวยแค่ไหน และเอาเงินไปทำอะไรบ้าง.”  [How rich is the Thailand Tobacco Monopoly and where does the money go?] (candidate translation). The Standard, The Standard, 30 Aug. 2018, thestandard.co/thailand-tobacco-monopoly/.

Format of the Extended Essay

Required Formatting

The extended essay should be written in a clear, correct and formal academic style, appropriate to the subject from which the topic is drawn. Given that the extended essay is a formally written research paper, it should strive to maintain a professional, academic look. 

To help achieve this, the following formatting is  required:

  • 12-point, readable font (Calibri or Times New Roman);
  • double spacing throughout entire Essay;
  • page numbering - top right corner;
  • no candidate or school name or supervisor name on the title page or page headers.

Submitting the extended essay in the required format will help set the tone of the essay and will aid readability for on-screen assessment by examiners.

Required S tructure

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. More details about each element are given in the  “Presentation”  section. 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:

  • Contents page
  • Introduction
  • Body of the essay
  • References and bibliography -- if MLA "Works Cited" if CSE "References"

1. Required Title Page  

The title page should include  only  the following information: 

  • the title of the essay
  • the research question
  • the subject the essay is registered in (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) 

The upper limit is 4,000 words for all extended essays. 

extended essay ess

2. Required Contents Page

A contents page must be provided at the beginning of the extended essay and all pages should be numbered. Please note that an index page is not required and if included will be treated as if it is not present.

3. Required Introduction

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.

4. Required Body of the Essay  (research, analysis, discussion, and evaluation)

The main task is writing the body of the essay, which should be presented in the form of a reasoned argument. The form of this varies with the subject of the essay but as the argument develops it 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 some subjects, for example, the sciences, sub-headings within the main body of the essay will help the reader to understand the argument (and will also help the student to keep on track). In structuring their extended essay, students must take into consideration the expected conventions of the subject in which their extended essay is registered. 

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). 

Any information that is important to the argument  must not  be included in appendices or footnotes/endnotes. The examiner  will not  read notes or appendices, so an essay that is not complete in itself will be compromised across the assessment criteria.

5. Required Conclusion

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.

6.  Required References & Bibliography

Students should use their chosen style of academic referencing as soon as they start writing. That way they are less likely to forget to include a citation. It is also easier than trying to add references at a later stage. 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.

Extended Essay - Examples & Exemplars

  • Essays from May 2018 with IB marks and commentaries
  • Assessed Student Work & Commentary IB-provided. "Student sample extended essays, corresponding marks and comments from senior examiners are available for the following Diploma Programme disciplines. Please note that in light of not having authentic RPPFs to accompany these essays, they are marked against criteria A – D only, for a total of 28 possible marks. Following the first assessment session in 2018, exemplars will be refreshed with authentic sample material." more... less... Biology English Economics History Studies in language and literature Language acquisition Mathematics Psychology Visual arts World studies extended essay (WSEE)
  • Excellenet Extended Essays Concordian GoogleDoc
  • EngA1_Othello EE Othello 2018 From inThinking.net Click the link to see the score and evaluation.
  • Fifty (50) More Excellent Extended Essays DVD by International Baccalaureate Call Number: HS DVD 808.4 ISBN: 9781906345600 Publication Date: 2011 1 DVD-ROM (1:33 min.)

Past CIS Extended Essays

Available in the library behind the desk are file folders of past Extended Essays by Concordian students and IB EE Exemplars. Feel free to browse the papers which must be kept in the library.

extended essay ess

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IBDP Environmental Systems & Societies

Website by Zoe Badcock & Laura Hamilton

Updated 18 May 2024

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IB Core and Philosophy

The ib core - cas, extended essay and tok.

ESS has a lot to offer the core of the IB Diploma. In these pages we will explore links to CAS, TOK and provide more in depth advice of supervising Extended Essays in ESS and World Studies which lends itself very well to ESS. There are also links on the topic pages and in the activities for learning to various core ideas, e.g.  1.4 Environmental Indicators  or  1.1 Cultural Attitudes   and  8.4 Investigating Ecological Footprints  

Creativity, Activity and Service, CAS has many opportunities that arise from ESS. With the new guide for CAS, in fact, it is now highly recommended that opportunities for CAS are highlighted in subjects. I will explore opportunities for this.

In the new Theory of Knowledge guide we are fortunate to have some great guiding questions that can be used in ESS from a TOK perspective. I will provide an overview of how TOK works and provide some examples for linking TOK into your subject teaching (a requirement of the Diploma Standards and Practices).

Extended Essays

There are some wonderful opportunities for extended essays in ESS and I have been lucky to supervise some really interesting ideas. I will provide some resources to help guide students and tips I have developed along the way with some examples of essays of varying quality.

Learner Profile

It is easy to see the links to the learner profile in ESS and I will provide some examples and a framework to help you make your own links.

International Mindedness

One of the true joys of ESS and the IB Diploma is how it helps students to become more interculturally aware. The IB calls it internationally minded but I prefer interculturally aware. I will provide some examples and teaching strategies to help with this.

Creativity Activity and Service (CAS)

CAS opportunities and ideas jump out from all over the syllabus but it will depend on your teaching style and school culture. One of the most important ideas for me is that you lead by example. Show the...

Extended Essay

ESS isn't always a popular subject for extended essays because students may be advised to write an essay in their HL subjects or in a specific course that they are applying to study at university. However...

Theory of Knowledge (TOK)

Theory of Knowledge is required to be linked to while teaching ESS. Luckily ESS lends itself to TOK rather easily. The idea is to help students question what is knowledge, why do people think the way...

Selected Pages

extended essay ess

ESS and International Mindedness Free

International mindedness is a key concept underpinning an IB Education however in the most recent publication of "What is...

extended essay ess

ESS and the Learner Profile Free

It's not difficult to make the links between the IB Learner Profile and ESS. If you are planning units using the IB...

extended essay ess

Assessment of the Extended Essay Free

From May 2018 new assessment criteria and a new emphasis was implemented for the Extended Essay. On this page we will look...

extended essay ess

Sample Extended Essay - World Studies - ESS & DT Free

This was an interesting first for me. The student is a passionate advocate for sustainable design and wanted to combine...

extended essay ess

Extended Essay Free

ESS isn't always a popular subject for extended essays because students may be advised to write an essay in their HL subjects...

extended essay ess

Theory of Knowledge (TOK) from 2020

The Theory of Knowledge CourseThe Theory of Knowledge Course provides students with an opportunity to explore and reflect...

100 IB Extended Essay Topic Ideas!

extended essay ess

One of the biggest keys to the Extended Essay is choosing which subject you want to write your work in and developing that crucial research question. Read on to find inspiration for topics across a wide range of subjects.

Extended Essay: The Love/Hate aspect of the IB

One of the biggest keys to the Extended Essay is choosing which subject you want to write your work in and developing that crucial research question. Annoyingly, coming up with that idea and research question can be the toughest part of the entire process. Writing 4,000 words about something you are interested in is a big ask and it often feels impossible to narrow down your thoughts. To make everything super clear, here are 100 Extended Essay Topics for you to draw inspiration from! Use these as a springboard to create your own research question !

Get Support from A Top Tutor Today

At Lanterna we have over 300 tutors who smashed their Extended Essay. They know exactly how to get an A in your EE and can give you tips and tricks on how you can do the same. What are you waiting for? Get your own tutor today !

How to Begin Your IB Extended Essay

To make everything super clear, here are 100 Extended Essay Topics for you to draw inspiration from! Use these as a springboard to  create your own research question !

Get Support from a Top Tutor Today

At Lanterna, we have over 300 tutors who smashed their Extended Essay. They know exactly how to get an A in your EE and can give you tips and tricks on how you can do the same. What are you waiting for? Get your own tutor today!

10 Steps to Writing an Extended Essay

Before we look at specific topics for your essay, let’s recap the 10-steps you’ll need to follow to complete your extended essay.

1. Define the Topic and Draft the Research Question

2. Create a Timeline

3. Identify and gather Sources

4. Set Deadlines

5. Plan the structure according to the total word count

6. Evaluate

7. independent Research

8. Write the extended essay draft

10. Present

By following the steps above, you should be able to produce a logical and coherent rationale to follow when writing the extended essay for your IB diploma programme.

By starting with a solid research question, you’ll be able to put an extended essay of global significance together, from the research and writing process all the way through to your final submission with a favourable extended essay grade.

Below, we’re sharing 10 topics across 10 subjects to inspire your next IB extended essay.

1. How the change of habitat affects an X organism?

2. How does climate affect the growth of X plant?

3. Can photosynthesis take place without sunlight?

4. What is the effect of age and gender on the photoreceptor cells in the human retina?

5. How is climate change impacting the appearance of coral reefs?

6. An evaluation of how  antioxidants  work in our bodies?

7. Does hand sanitizer, hand soap or antibacterial wipes have the greatest ability to inhibit the growth of E. Coli?

8. To what extent do live cultures in yogurts/milk/other dairy products reduce the concentration of lactose present over the course of a 2 hour incubation period at x°C?

9. What is the relationship between  population density  between X and population size of X?

10. What is the relationship between indoleacetic acid, a growth hormone, and the growth of X (a crop)?

11. How does human influence impact an aquatic ecosystem?

12. How can one organize a pollution check along a X canal in X?

13. What is the effect of the increased ecological footprint in the  Amazon ?

14. What are the forest and woodland restoration in Siberia, Russia and which one is most effective?

15. How does human interference cause ecological imbalances in an X city/country/continent?

16. What is the impact of urban development on the  bee population  in X city?

17. What are the differences in the conversation efforts in Yosemite National Park (California, USA) and the Lake District National Park (UK)?

18. To what extent have healthcare policies in X country influenced their human population curve?

19. How have changes in environmental systems influenced the value system of X country?

20. How has X landfill site affected the surrounding terrestrial ecosystem?

21. What is the profitability of  airline companies ?

22. How does unemployment affect the market?

23. Why did X recession occur?

24. How did the financial Policy affect the economy in X?

25. How effective are government policies in reducing overconsumption of alcohol (specifically hard liquor)?

26. To what extent are public buses and subways substitute goods in a country?

27. How did the tax reform in country x affect its growth and development? (many countries to choose from)

28. To what extent was weak government policy responsible for the Latin American financial crisis of 1997?

29. How effective is the  Big Mac Index  in measuring purchasing power parity?

30. To what extent would the UK suffer from leaving the European Customs Union if Brexit happens?

31. Is there an association between viewing violence on television and the display of violent acts?

32. What motivational climate should a coach employ in order to achieve optimal performance in athletes?

33. How does  X hormone affect human behavior ?

34. Compare theories explaining altruism in human behaviour

35. Discuss short-term and long-term consequences of exposure to violence

36. Why do relationships change or end?

37. Discuss how  social variables (poverty, parenting, educational environment) may the affect cognitive environment.

38. To what extent do mirror neurons play a role in empathy? (2014)

39. To what extent does Mindfulness help people cope with General Anxiety Disorder (GAD)?

40. To what extent is drug therapy effective in the treatment of bipolar disorder?

41. Does the British Parliamentary reforms act of 1832 deserve its title as the great reform act?

42. To what extent are there similarities in Hitler and Mussolini’s Rise to Power?

43. To what extent did Mao’s tackle the problems which he faced?

44. Was Tsar Alexander II of Russia reforms a success or failure?

45. To what extent was the bombing of Dresden in 1945 justifiable?

46. To what extent can  Sweden be considered neutral during WWII ?

47. The impact of structural economic weakness on the collapse of the Soviet Union.

48. How were women treated differently in 1920s and 1950s Great Britain?

49. Why did Israel win the  Six Day War  of 1967?

50. What role did economics play in the unification of Germany from 1834 to 1871?

English Literature

51. What are the Compare and Contrast Jane Austen Books?

52. How does Joseph Conrad’s portray Racism in A Heart of Darkness?

53. How does Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman critique today’s capitalist society? The American Dream?

54. To what extent does Chris McCandless in Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild escape familial influence?

55. What are the similarities and differences between J.K. Rowling’s characterization of Severus Snape in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows?

56. How does Yaa Gyasi use structure in her novel Homegoing to portray the evolution of time?

57. What is the impact of the social context on Holden Caufield and Huckleberry Finn?

58. How does Sylvia Path’s use of Inanimate objects in Bell Jar?

59. How is the empowerment of Feminine portrayed in the Lord of the Rings?

60. Compare the political rhetoric as used in the inaugural addresses of George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump.

61. The design, construction and calibration of an apparatus for measuring lipid concentration in milk.

62. What is the effect of a change in the optimal lift on the horizontal gliding distance of an aircraft?

63. How does the sugar concentration affect the refractive index of water?

64. How does temperature affect the viscosity of X juice/soda?

65. Is the relationship between temperature and conductivity and insulators and conductors?

66. What is the Oberth Effect?

67. What is the temperature dependence of work performed on an AA battery?

68. How can the rotational frequency of a fan driven by a flame measure distance?

69. Do wine bottles of different shapes behave as Helmholtz resonators?

70. How does the diameter of a wheel affect stability in different weather conditions?

71. What factors influence the location of industries in country/city X?

72. An investigation into the significance of preserving the quality of water in a continent/country/city?

73. An investigation into the degree to which City X can be considered a Sustainable City/Community.

74. To what extent is Biodiversity being managed successfully in city X?

75. To what extent does the education and employment of women affect Country x’s fertility rate?

76. To what extent do gender, educational attainment, and working parameters influence obesity risk?

77. To what extent has urban development affected human thermal comfort levels in Country/city x (a country/city that has developed in a rapid rate over the past decades)?

78. To what extent is the Company x corporate waste management program effective, demonstrating environmental sustainability?

79. To what extent is biodiversity being managed successfully at National Park X?

80. What types of urban design encourage high rates of vandalism in X neighbourhoods?

81. The kinetics of Enzymatic Reactions.

82. How do Iron Intake Diets differ in X country?

83. What are the different factors that affect the iodine values in cooking oils?

84. What is the effect of standing time and temperate on the acid content in X juice or soda?

85. Can caffeine in tea or coffee be reduced?

86. What is the effect of temperature on the souring of milk?

87. What are the sources of error in calorimetry?

88. Does brushing your teeth affect the pH in your mouth after eating?

89. How does changing the concentration of the reagents affect the formation and spacing between Liesehang rings in the reaction between X chloride and X when conducted in a test tube?

90. What effect does the coating of aspirin tablets have on the hydrolysis of aspirin?

Social and Cultural Anthropology

91. How clothing relates to the cultural anthropology of X culture.

92. The extent to which social media networks affect different societies.

93. The relationship between ritual, myths and faith in an X society.

94. The history of rituals in X culture.

95. How different marriage rituals inform the cultural anthropology of X culture.

96. Climate change and its impact on the evolution of different creatures on the planet.

97. Understanding the social and cultural anthropology of the supernatural in X culture.

98. An analysis of body modification in relation to social and cultural anthropology.

100. Chaste systems and social ranks in societies.

There are so many class subjects that can form the basis of your extended essay, including these popular six subjects:

– Information technology

– Computer science

– Health science

– World studies

– Visual arts

– Business management

Extended essays are a great way to improve your writing skills in academic writing. Essays of a high standard that demonstrate critical thinking and in depth analysis can be submitted to academic journals. These have the potential to reach the global society.

Start Writing Your Extended Essay Topic

We hope this gave you some great inspiration for the variation of topics available for your Extended Essay . The research question you select is what will carry you through the entire process, so be sure to choose wisely!

Remember, if you are looking for more help with your Extended Essay, make sure to check out our guide which will tell you exactly how to plan, structure, research and write your Extended Essay!

Grab Free Extended Essay Resources!

No matter the subject groups in your diploma program, we’re here to help all of our IB students. Whether you’re writing about social and cultural anthropology, business management, design technology, or scientific methods for your IB diploma, Lanterna has you covered.

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COMMENTS

  1. US IB Environmental Systems and Societies: ESS Extended Essay

    B: Knowledge and understanding. This criterion assesses the extent to which the research relates to the subject area/discipline used to explore the research question; or in the case of the world studies extended essay, the issue addressed and the two disciplinary perspectives applied; and additionally, the way in which this knowledge and understanding is demonstrated through the use of ...

  2. ESS Extended Essay

    The extended essay (EE) is an integral part of the IB Diploma course. In order to write a good EE in ESS you need to first of all be interested in and passionate about the environment; and secondly be prepared to put in the hard work. You will research and write about an environmental topic or issue of relevance to you and your environment.

  3. Extended essay

    The extended essay is an independent, self-directed piece of research, finishing with a 4,000-word paper. One component of the International Baccalaureate® (IB) Diploma Programme (DP) core, the extended essay is mandatory for all students. Read about the extended essay in greater detail. You can also read about how the IB sets deadlines for ...

  4. IB ESS EE examples

    High scoring IB ESS Extended Essay examples. See what past students did and make your ESS EE perfect by learning from examiner commented examples!

  5. The Complete IB Extended Essay Guide: Examples, Topics, and Ideas

    References and bibliography. Additionally, your research topic must fall into one of the six approved DP categories, or IB subject groups, which are as follows: Group 1: Studies in Language and Literature. Group 2: Language Acquisition. Group 3: Individuals and Societies. Group 4: Sciences. Group 5: Mathematics.

  6. PDF A Student Guide To Writing the Extended Essay

    Award of Diploma Points - the role of The Extended Essay, and TOK The extended essay contributes to the overall diploma score through the award of points in conjunction with theory of knowledge. A maximum of three points are awarded according to a student's combined performance in both the extended essay and theory of knowledge.

  7. ESS extended essay

    An ESS extended essay provides you with the opportunity to explore questions in terrestrial, freshwater or marine environments. The characteristic nature of an essay in this subject will lie in the application of a systems approach to an environmental issue. Choice of topic.

  8. Examples

    These highlight the diverse range of topics covered by International Baccalaureate® (IB) Diploma Programme (DP) students during their extended essays. Some examples are: "An analysis of costume as a source for understanding the inner life of the character". "A study of malnourished children in Indonesia and the extent of their recovery ...

  9. Environmental Systems & Societies (ESS)

    Excellent Extended Essays - Environmental Systems and Societies (ESS) The future of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in the United States (2014) A comparison of conservation efforts for the Bornean Orangutan (Pongo Pygmaeus) and the Violet Click Beetle (Limoniscus Violaceus) (2012)

  10. 50+ IB ESS Extended Essay Topic Ideas

    Whether you are interested in the intricacies of climate change, the sustainability of water resources, or biodiversity conservation, these topics provide a solid foundation for an insightful and impactful Extended Essay in ESS. You can also check our similar articles: Philosophy extended essay topics; Anthropology extended essay topics

  11. PDF Ib Extended Essay Guide

    IB mission statement The International Baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.

  12. World Studies Extended Essay: Examples

    Examples of interdisciplinary research. Interdisciplinary research projects can vary extensively in content and extent of material covered. Here are two examples: WSEE Example 1 - IB Subjects: ESS (Environmental systems and societies) and Economics. WSEE Example 2 - IB Subjects: Economics, Biology, Political science.

  13. Essays

    Resources for IB ESS: Environmental Systems and Societies. Skip to the content. Search. IB ESS by Science Sauce. IB ESS Resources. Menu. ... The IA. Essays. Answers. Contact. Essays. Here on Science Sauce you'll find a 9-mark essay task for each chapter, reflective of the Paper 2 Section B essay questions. You'll find the resources at the ...

  14. Sample Extended Essay

    Sample Extended Essay - World Studies - ESS and Design Technology. This was an interesting first for me. The student is a passionate advocate for sustainable design and wanted to combine her interests in ESS (sustaibability) with an analysis of a new product design from Adidas that used plastic collected from the ocean. She wanted to examine ...

  15. Environmental Systems and Societies Extended Essay

    The extended essay (EE) is an integral part of the IB Diploma course. In order to write a good extended essay in ESS you need to first of all be interested in and passionate about the environment; and secondly be prepared to put in the hard work. ... ESS is a multidisciplinary subject, which satisfies Diploma requirements for Groups 3 and 4 ...

  16. Assessment Criteria

    Criterion B: Knowledge and Understanding (6 points) What It Means: This criterion assesses the extent to which the research relates to the subject area/discipline used to explore the research question; or in the case of the world studies extended essay, the issue addressed and the two disciplinary perspectives applied; and additionally, the way in which this knowledge and understanding is ...

  17. Extended Essay Guide: Criteria, Format, Sample EEs

    The extended essay should be written in a clear, correct and formal academic style, appropriate to the subject from which the topic is drawn. Given that the extended essay is a formally written research paper, it should strive to maintain a professional, academic look. To help achieve this, the following formatting is required:

  18. DP Environmental Systems & Societies: IB Core and Philosophy

    ESS has a lot to offer the core of the IB Diploma. In these pages we will explore links to CAS, TOK and provide more in depth advice of supervising Extended Essays in ESS and World Studies which lends itself very well to ESS. There are also links on the topic pages and in the activities for learning to various core ideas, e.g. 1.4 Environmental Indicators or 1.1 Cultural Attitudes and 8.4 ...

  19. 100 IB Extended Essay Topic Ideas!

    An analysis of body modification in relation to social and cultural anthropology. 100. Chaste systems and social ranks in societies. There are so many class subjects that can form the basis of your extended essay, including these popular six subjects: - Information technology. - Computer science. - Health science.

  20. ESS Extended Essay Topics

    The IB Environmental Systems and Societies (ESS) Extended Essay is an opportunity for students to explore a topic of their choice within the field of environmental science. The extended essay is a challenging and rewarding task, requiring in-depth research and critical thinking skills. However, choosing an ESS extended essay topic can be daunting.

  21. 1.ESS Extended Essay-Samples EE

    Sample BEST ESS Extended Essay. Sample EE 1. Sample EE 2. Sample EE 3. Sample EE 4. Sample EE 5. Sample EE 6.