Producing an extended essay outline

This page is intended for students preparing a Geography extended essay or a World Studies extended essay where Geography is one of the focus subjects.

It is best practice to produce a well thought out extended essay outline, that your supervisor can feedback upon, before the start of the summer break. This means that you will not waste any effort in the summer break upon an approach that will not ‘work’ for the extended essay or upon a title that will not allow you to succeed.

Share your extended essay outline in such a way that your EE supervisor can give meaningful feedback upon it.


Your research question

At this point your research question should already have been agreed and recorded on ManageBac.

The research question must be sharply focused and effective treatment must be possible within 4000 words, such as “To what extent does the quality of life in selected communes in the city of Geneva vary with distance from Lake Leman”. For a Geography extended essay your research question must reference the location you are focusing on.

The research question is clear and addresses an issue of research that is appropriately connected to the discussion in the essay.

5-6 marks - Criterion A: Focus and method

Your title

At this point your title should already have been agreed and recorded on ManageBac.

You need to have a title that frames your extended essay, such as “Differences in quality of life in the city of Geneva, Switzerland”.


Your data - what are you basing your arguments upon?

You need to show that you have sufficient data to analysis.

Your extended essay must be analytical. You need to be super careful that the overall feel of your essay is not descriptive.

List each of the data sources you intend to use. Insert the title of the data source into your document and hyperlink to its source. For each of your data sources outline what you intend to do with it - graph it to show something, map the data to show something or carry out statistical tests upon it.


Your introduction - how are you framing your arguments?

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.

The introduction (at this stage) should express the following:

  • What is the Geography behind your extended essay? What geographical models, theories or concepts will you be using as a framework for your discussion?
  • What is the global/larger issue that you are looking at and then applying to a more local scale?
  • Why is your research question worth asking? Consider the issue on the global arena and then narrow that down to why it is worth asking in the context of place (location). Why are the arguments that you are going to make matter?

Your methodology - Where did your data come from?

The focus of your methodology (at this stage) needs to be how you are collecting the data you intend to use to illustrate your discussions, arguments and conclusions.

There are two types of data - primary and secondary. Primary data is data that you collect - for example, interviews, pedestrian counts, temperature readings, mapping the locations of data points. Secondary data is data that somebody else has collected. It could be the data that you find in the appendix of a report produced by an NGO, governmental organization or an UN office. In both cases, you need to analysis and presentation the data yourself. You should not just be using the graphs and maps that other people have produced.

You can use primary and/or secondary data for your extended essay. As you will be making arguments and conclusions based on the data you need to be able to discuss the data source, reliability and accuracy.

Primary data

At this point in your extended essay journey, if you are going to be collecting primary data you should have a clear data collection plan.

  • What primary data will you be collecting?
  • What sampling techniques will you be using?
  • How big will your sample size be? How do you know it is large enough?
  • When will you be doing the data collection?
  • Where will you be doing the data collection?
  • How valid do you think this data will be?

Secondary data

At this point in your extended essay journey, you should already have access to sufficient secondary data.

  • What are the sources of your secondary data?
  • How old is the data?
  • How big are the secondary data sets? Are they large enough for you to carry out meaningful analysis?
  • How reliable is the data?

An appropriate range of relevant source(s) and/or method(s) has been selected in relation to the topic and research question.

There is evidence of effective and informed selection of sources and/or methods.

5-6 marks - Criterion A: Focus and method

Your graphs and maps - the geographical presentation of your data

You need to be making use of personally produced graphs, maps and (potentially) statistical tests to analyse your data.

At this stage, you should have already produced some maps and graphs as a ‘proof of concept’ for your intended arguments. These graphs and/or maps should be included at this point.

List the graphs and maps you will be including in your extended essay (you do not have to have produced them all at this point - but you should have produced some). Each map and graph needs to have a suitable title and a link to/description of the data you will be using to produce it.

The research is analysed effectively and clearly focused on the research question; the inclusion of less relevant research does not significantly detract from the quality of the overall analysis.

Conclusions to individual points of analysis are effectively supported by the evidence.

10-12 marks - Criterion C: Critical thinking

Structure - how to you plan to structure your extended essay

You need to produce a section by section outline for your extended essay. Each section needs:

  • section title
  • an outline of the arguments that you will be making in it
  • the data/map/graph that will be supporting your argument(s)
  • intended word count

Your extended essay needs to have the following sections - but sections can be broken down further into sub-sections using subheadings:

  • Introduction
  • Methodology
  • Analysis
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography

The structure of the essay clearly is appropriate in terms of the expected conventions for the topic, the argument and subject in which the essay is registered.

Layout considerations are present and applied correctly.

The structure and layout support the reading, understanding and evaluation of the extended essay.

3-4 marks - Criterion D: Presentation