Extended Essay

An extended essay in music provides students with an opportunity to undertake in-depth research into a topic of genuine interest to them. The student is encouraged to develop and explore, in a disciplined and imaginative way, a research question appropriate to the subject. The outcome of the research should be a coherent and structured piece of writing that effectively addresses a particular issue or research question and arrives at a particular, and preferably personal, conclusion.

Visual Arts Specifications:

The outcome of the research should be a coherent and structured piece of writing (with appropriate illustrations) that effectively addresses a particular issue or research question, appropriate to the visual arts (broadly defined also to include architecture, design and contemporary forms of visual culture). The research may be generated or inspired by the students direct experience of artwork, craftwork or design, or interest in the work of a particular artist, style or period. This might be related to the students own culture or another culture. Personal contact with artists, curators and so on is strongly encouraged, as is the use of local and/or primary sources.

Theatre Specifications:

Owing to the composite nature of theatre, students may choose to take an interdisciplinary approach in their research. Whatever approach they choose, it is important to frame an appropriately focused research question. It is the task of the supervisor to ensure that the research question leads the student along a path that uses appropriate theatrical sources and that encourages the application of relevant theatrical concepts, theories or ideas. The essay topic may relate to an area of the Diploma Programme theatre course, but this is not a requirement and other areas of the subject may be explored. It is important that the topic reflects the student’s particular interest and enthusiasm within the subject area.

Music Specifications:

Real music should be at the heart of an extended essay in music. This means that particular pieces of music, experienced via recordings, live performances or concerts, should be chosen as the core focus of the extended essay. Students should strive for a coherent verbal analysis and interpretation of one or more pieces of music in relation to the chosen research question.

General Advice:

Absolute reliance on textbooks and the internet is discouraged and no extended essay in music should be based exclusively on such sources. Textbooks should be consulted only insofar as they may stimulate original ideas, provide models of disciplined, structured and informed approaches, and encourage direct and personal involvement with the essay topic. (International Baccalaureate, 2009, p.122)

Sample Topics:

Music Extended Essays have been offered since 2011 / 2012. Topics covered have included:

“A Comparative Analysis of Two Performances of Halversen’s Violin and Viola Duo from Handel’s Passacaglia in D Minor.” (2011/2012)

The Use of Jazz in Reorchestrating Classical Favourites (2012/2013)


International Baccalaureate. (2009). Extended Essay. International Baccalaureate Organisation: Cardiff, UK.

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