Jul 27 2022

25 Good Extended Essay Topics for IB

Stefani Holloway photo Stefani Holloway Content strategist and writer
Writing Inspiration

Extended essays in the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme are dreaded by most students because they are viewed as extensive work that requires a lot of effort to complete.

Original: SourceIt's up to you to decide whether your extended essay will be an adventure or torture. Depending on your views on the essay topic, you might find writing it extremely enjoyable or mentally exhausting.

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In this article, we'll discuss the tried-and-true tips for finding good extended essay topics that can help speed up your process and make writing more enjoyable.

But first, let's circle back to what an IB extended essay is.

What is an IB Extended Essay

An extended essay (EE) is an independent essay in the form of a 4,000-word mini-thesis that IB students need to write to complete the Diploma Programme.

When writing an extended essay, you'll be under the supervision of a mentor or advisor. The process of writing an extended essay starts by formulating a research question as a topic, which will then be approved by the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO).

How is the Extended Essay Scored

While you'll be under the supervision of a teacher from your school, all IB extended essays are scored externally by examiners appointed directly by the IBO. The score range for an IB extended essay is from 0 to 34.

But as students, you'll only see the typical letter grades:

  • A – excellent
  • B – good
  • C – satisfactory
  • D – mediocre
  • E – elementary

An IB extended essay is one of two parts of the Diploma Programme core (DP core), along with the theory of knowledge (TOK) essay and Creativity, activity, service (CAS). Collectively, your extended and TOK essay can give you up to 3 additional points toward your overall diploma score.

Your diploma score is made up of your score from each subject – and you'll need at least a 24 score to pass. So, the three additional points from your extended and TOK essay could really save your degree should you fall short of meeting the minimum passing score.

That said, you should pay more attention to the topic you choose for your essay so that you can get the most score from it.

How to Choose a Topic for your IB Extended Essay

While you can choose whatever topic you like as your IB extended essay, you shouldn't randomly come up with research questions that you can't possibly answer in less than 4,000 words.

To ensure that your essay can go swimmingly, here are several tips on choosing good extended essay topics:

1. Choose a subject in your scope of study

It's important that you also find a topic that falls somewhere in the six subjects of study you picked when you enrolled in IB. You should consider choosing a topic that is covered by a higher level (HL) subject because you might have already learned about it in classes – which obviously can speed up your research and writing process.

If you choose a topic that's not within your scope of study, you might have to read up on dozens of additional resources before you can gather enough information to write your essay.

Despite being given up to 10 months to work on an extended essay, you should avoid risks by taking on a topic that you have minimum knowledge of.

Students are encouraged to choose Extended Essay topics from one of the following subjects:

  • Dance
  • Global Politics
  • Literature and Performance
  • Mathematics
  • Studies in Language and Literature
  • Theatre
  • Visual Arts

2. Keep considerable time aside for topic brainstorming

Given the freedom and range of possible topics you're given, it's a good idea to set aside some time of your day for topic brainstorming. Ideally, you should use this time to chat with your advisor since they're also responsible for ensuring you have a well-formulated research question.

But if your advisor isn't really available – or you have zero ideas about what you want to write about – you can allocate some time to brainstorm with your peers or read through essay libraries to get that 'aha' moment.

Remember to always jot down any ideas you have when you're out and about in your notebook or note-taking apps on your phone.

Here’s a video by Worldwide Speak on brainstorming topic ideas that might be helpful


3. Choose a topic of interest

It's really important that you choose a topic you genuinely have an interest in. Interest and enthusiasm are essential because these are what will push you to put in that extra effort to make your essay really shine.

If you're not interested enough in your topic, forget about going the extra mile and making an essay that shines – doing the bare minimum might feel draining enough. The trick is to find a topic you'd be willing to spend your time on, even if you didn't have to write an essay about it.

It might be challenging to find such a topic – that's why you must actively make time to do so. But once you do find it, you'll get away from one of the most common problems in essay writing: procrastination. Once you find the topic that piques your interest, extended essay writing might feel like creative writing.

4. Make sure it is in your scope of study

It's important that you also find a topic that falls somewhere in the six subjects of study you picked when you enrolled in IB. You should consider choosing a topic that is covered by a higher level (HL) subject because you might have already learned about it in classes – which obviously can speed up your research and writing process.

If you choose a topic that's not within your scope of study, you might have to read up on dozens of additional resources before you can gather enough information to write your essay. Despite being given up to 10 months to work on an extended essay, you should avoid risks by taking on a topic that you have minimum knowledge of.

5. Avoid topics that are too broad or narrow

The challenge with writing an essay is that you have to find a topic that no one has written about before. But if you choose a topic that's too narrow, you'll have difficulty finding resources and previous research to use as references.

However, picking a topic that's too general or broad also comes with a challenge: you'll have too many resources to read through. As a consequence, you won't be able to decide which information to include in your extended essay.

A good IB extended essay topic should have the right mix between resource availability and uniqueness.

Instead of writing an essay on "What are the side effects of global warming?" – which is too broad of a subject – you can narrow it down to something like "What are the side effects of global warming on the farming industry in Nevada?".

The second example above is narrower, but you won't have difficulty finding references for the effects of global warming and the farming industry in Nevada.

6. Do background research

Don't waste a good IB extended essay topic by delivering sub-par writing and arguments. Before you start writing away your thoughts and analysis on the subject, make sure you read up on references and resources.

Doing background research helps you to determine an appropriate scope of your research. Reading up on previous research might help you find a subject that fits in the broader discussion around a topic.

Background research can also help you see the value of your essay and how its result may impact others who are interested in the same field of study as you. Through background research, you'll also be exposed to the previous works of experts, their points of view, and how your essay will complement them.

25 Good Extended Essay Topics for your Inspiration

Here’s a list of topics for some key IB subjects.

Visual Arts

  1. To what extent are there stylistic similarities between Impressionist and Renaissance Art?
  2. An investigation into the lasting influence of traditional African architecture on Modernism.
  3. How has the controversial nature of street music in Egypt provided a platform for popular expression?
  4. To what extent should Ai Weiwei’s destruction of art be perceived as a form of preservation?
  5. An investigation into Pablo Picasso’s Guernica and how this artwork increased discourse and influenced changes in national policy.

Literature

  1. How does Shakespeare examine the gift and curse of revenge in Hamlet?
  2. Compare and contrast the representation of women in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series and J.R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.
  3. An investigation into Liberty and Censorship in George Orwell’s 1984.
  4. To what extent is postmodernity crystallized in the works of Roland Barthes?
  5. An examination of gender roles in Buchi Emecheta’s The Bride Price.

History

  1. Racism and historical blindness: The significance of comfort women in the lead up to the Second World War.
  2. To what extent has historical revisionism affected the perception of pre- and post-colonial Africa in the modern world?
  3. To what extent did the First Sino-Japanese War contribute to the emergence of Japan as a major world power?
  4. An investigation into the inequality and poverty witnessed in the transition economies of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union in the 1990s.
  5. Industrial expansion in post-Civil War America.

Global Politics

  1. To what extent did the United States' invasion of Iraq influence their credibility in the global environment?
  2. How have the BRIC countries triggered the recent transformation of international politics in the twenty-first century?
  3. Inflation and trade interruptions: The Implication of the War on Ukraine on the European economy.
  4. How improved governance and stability has brought about an investment evolution in Sub-Saharan Africa?
  5. The lasting impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on global governance and cooperation between different world powers.

Geography

  1. How has the education and employment of women affected economic expansion in Latin America?
  2. An examination of Singapore’s slow-growing local workforce and the increased access to foreign labor.
  3. To what extent has extreme poverty, hunger and violence affected migration patterns in Sub-Saharan Africa?
  4. Comparative study of the living conditions of the cities of Geneva and Cape Town and the role played by public services.
  5. The impact of water resources preservation on the ecological ecosystem of the Yellow River in China.

Final thoughts

Finding good extended essay topics is not as difficult as you might think – but it's not a walk in the park either. Do your background research and dedicate some time to brainstorm, discuss, and mull over your ideas.

You shouldn't pick topics that others think are valuable and interesting. After all, you will be the one writing the essay, not them. So, it's best to go with topics that you're genuinely interested in studying further.

But we agree, choosing a topic can get complicated. If you’re stuck, write to us at Writers Per Hour and our expert IB writers can help you brainstorm topic ideas and write a solid extended essay that is sure to take your final IB grade to the next level.

last edit at Jul 29 2022