History Extended Essay Cold War

The extended essay is a piece of personal research into a topic of your choice which has to be presented like a formal research paper with around 4,000 words. The extended essay in history gives students the opportunity to undertake in-depth research in an area of history of genuine interest to them.

Along with your grade for the Theory of Knowledge course, the EE can contribute up to three points to your total score for the IB Diploma. The extended essay should be around 4,000 words in length and as such, it is recommended that students spend 40 hours on the EE. The EE is concluded with a short interview, or viva voce, with your supervising teacher.

The essay is then externally marked out of 36 and given a grade from A-E. This is combined with your ToK grade to give an overall points score out of 3. Your extended essay in history should include the following elements:
  1. Title Page
  2. Abstract
  3. Contents Page
  4. Introduction
  5. Body of the essay - divided into chapters
  6. Conclusion
  7. References and Bibliography
  8. Appendices.
Below is some more detailed information about what to do next. Follow the steps and ask your essay supervisor for help.

Step 1: Choose a topic

Your choice of topic area for the EE is completely up to you and does not have to be part of the IBDP history course. Try to choose a topic you are genuinely interested in however bear in mind that you need to be able to access, read, analyse and evaluate a wide range of sources so choose something that is accessible to research. It can be related to a topic studied in class.

Step 2: Choose a Research Question

Once you have a topic, you need to decide what question you can ask within that topic. Start by doing some general reading about your topic to try and identify what the key issues are and possible areas of historical debate and analysis. Don't worry if you are not entirely happy to start with, you can refine your question as you carry out research. Look at these examples of how questions have been derived from topics:

Topic - Non-Intervention in the Spanish Civil War
Question - Why did Britain pursue a policy of non-intervention in the Spanish Civil War during 1936?

Topic - The Second World War in Asia
Question - To what extent was the Jaywick Raid on Singapore Harbour in 1943 successful?

Step 3: Start Collecting Evidence

Start looking for sources as soon as you have identified the topic you are interested in. You will need about 20 different sources including primary and secondary sources, books and articles by historians and websites. Try to gather a range of different types of sources.

Remember, as you gather you evidence and sources, be sure to make detailed and RELEVANT notes. Think about what you are trying to find out from each source before reading it. Categorise your notes thematically and sort it chronologically.

Step 4: Complete EE Proposal Form

Once you have finished with your preliminary research, download and complete the EE Proposal Form.

Step 5: Start writing Essay

Once your proposal has been accepted, you can begin writing your EE. Tackle each section at a time. Refer to the pages for each Section of the EE on this website for help. Download and use this Mark Scheme to help make sure you are hitting full marks.


Example EE Titles

How decisive was Spain's contribution to the outcome of World War Two?

How reliable is Hogarth's 'The Rake's Progress' as evidence of 18th century London?

To what extent was the British victory against the communists during the Malayan Emergency due mainly to the actions of the High Commissioner, General Templer?

To what extent was World War Two a catalyst for British decolonisation?

How far did Nietzsche's ideas influence the Third Reich?

How and why do Historical sources disagree about the life and career of Bonnie Parker?

Finding Sources

Example EE's Graded as A or B

The Extended essay is a 2,000 - 4,000 word in-depth study on a subject and topic of the student’s choice. Students choose to do an Extended Essay in one area of their DP – this ideally should be in a subject that they are taking for Higher Level and that they are interested in! It is also advisable for a student to do an Extended Essay in the subject that they are going to take at university so that they can included it in their application e.g. on their personal statement for those applying in the UK.

The overall setting up of the Extended Essay and internal deadlines for handing in first and final drafts will probably be set up by the school’s IB Co-ordinator. However, you will be a supervisor for students doing history as an Extended Essay and so will need to give specific subject advice at all stages of the process.

Specifically this will involve:

  • Advising them in their choice of topic
  • Helping them to frame their question
  • Ensuring that they understand the criteria and how these are applied to history essays
  • Holding regular one on one sessions (see section on reflection)
  • Giving feedback on a first draft
  • Ensuring that they understand about referencing and issues of plagiarism
  • Holding a vive voce at the end of the process

If you have several students doing an EE in history, we would advise holding an introductory session for all students to discuss general points on choice of topic, resources, deadlines etc (see specific pages on these). They will also need a lesson on referencing, use of the internet and how to access any online databases that your school has access to (it maybe that the librarian in your school covers this)

Students will be graded A – E on their Extended Essay. The grade that they get for it will be combined with their grade from Theory of Knowledge to give them a maximum of 3 extra points (see grid matrix below). As supervisor, you will write comments on the student's progress but the actual marking of the EE is done externally.

The IB has a guide for the new Extended Essayhere.

Selected Pages

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