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How to Structure an Economics Extended Essay

Here is a step-by-step structure you can follow to complete your Extended Essay in Economics. The layout has changed recently, for example in terms of the cover sheet requirements and the reflections, but this post is up-to-date (and it includes a lot of helpful links).


Before you start writing...  

Here are a few key points and other helpful links you’ll want to use:

  • Be careful about choosing your research question. You’ve got a lot of options, but these generally fall under two categories 1) Evaluating the effects of a policy or 2) Determining the structure of a certain market. There are a lot of aspects that go into choosing a perfect EE question and it's worth taking your time to do this properly. (I'd be happy to meet with you to help you get your question right.
  • Decide on your citation style. Most people go with MLA. It's best to decide this early on, so you gather the right info as you go. I recommend doing your citations as you write, so you don't loose track of which sources you used where. Aim for at least 5 cited sources on an average page. Here’s a good guide from Purdue to help you. You can use Easybib, but it's just as easy to do it on your own.   
  • The E.E. should be in 12-point font, preferably Arial or Times New Roman. And it should be double spaced, with numbered pages. This makes it easier for us when we're marking hundreds of EE pages in a row. 😄
  • Anything over the 4000 word limit won’t be read by your marker, so you'll want to stick to a word-budget for each section. That's a big benefit of this document. I’ve noted below how many words I recommend for each section, which sections don’t count in the word count, etc. 
  • About 18% of your EE marks now come from your reflections, so those are also important. Here’s how to do them: How to Write IB EE Reflections (IBM) so be careful with those too. (And of course, I'd be happy to meet you with to talk through your reflections. Most people don't realize that excellent reflections can almost boost your EE from a C to an A). 😮


Okay, here’s the structure.


The Economics EE Structure

Title page

(Not included in your word count.)

The title page should include only the following information:


    • Your EE title. This part can be slightly confusing, because the title is not the same as your Research Question (RQ). The RQ is written in the form of a question, but the title should not be a question. Instead it is “a clear, focused summative statement of your research” (EE Guide, page 82). For example, “The market structure of supermarkets in Dubai."
    • Your Research Question. For example, “To what extent is the market structure of supermarkets in Dubai an oligopoly?
    • The subject (Economics)
    • Your word count 

(Notice that you shouldn’t put your name, date, candidate number, or school name on the EE.)


Table of Contents

(Not included in your word count.)

All parts of your EE, with page numbers of course. (You can just copy and paste my list to get you started).

  • Introduction
  • Methodology
  • Main body
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • Appendices  

(Do not include an Abstract. You'll find abstracts in a lot of the available sample EE, but the new E.E. Guide states that an Abstract should not be included in the EE.)


Introduction (Approx. 250 words)

  • Explain what you're be researching (i.e. the policy or a market structure) and how.
  • Provide some context for your question. Provide a few key facts (i.e. statistics) that will set the stage for the upcoming investigation. 
  • Define some of the main key words. 
  • Explain why this research is interesting and worthwhile to be studied.
  • Indicate to us how you're going to be organizing your investigation (i.e. the 3 aspects of the question). This part is worth getting some advice on as well. 
  • Near the end of the introduction, include your research question again and explain to us why it is important to answer.


Methodology (Approx. 350 words)

I recommend your methodology have two major aspects. One for explaining your sources and one for explaining your tools.

You’ll notice that, as much as you’re telling us what you are going to use to answer the question (sources and tools), you should also point out a limitations and weaknesses of these.  

Methodology Aspect 1: Sources

  • Describe each of your major sources of primary and secondary research. Tell us why they will be helpful and also a weakness or a limitation for each source. For example, how there may have been room for bias or a limited scope to your research sources. Or perhaps there are other reasons why other data you used could be unreliable or invalid.
  • Remember that the majority of your research for the EE (perhaps around 80%) should come from secondary sources.
  • Some helpful sources of
    • Secondary research are: academic sources (i.e. JSTOR or Google Scholar), industry sources, government reports, consumer reports, journalistic sources (i.e. news articles and magazine articles), Economics textbooks, and encyclopedias. More tips on using sources well here: How to Make Your Good Extended Essay Great (IBM).
    • Primary research are: Interviews, periodic recording of data (i.e. pricing changes) and surveys (but be very careful about how you go about gathering survey data. Otherwise you can waste quite a lot of time and actually reduce the quality of your EE findings).  

Methodology Aspect 2: Graphs and concepts

  • Explain the concepts (i.e. Economics graphs) you’re going to use (very briefly) and why (the purpose of each). 
  • Clarify why you're using each in a way that shows you really understand them. 


The Main Body (Approx. 2800 words)

This is where you’ll be sharing your research, analysis, discussion and evaluation.

Think of this section as also having two main parts.  

  1. The first is for your basic, 'course concepts research' (including your analysis and evaluations of them). This is where you show off that you understand how to do the things you’ve been taught in your IB Economics class.
  2. The second is for your 'extended research'. Most students will only do the basic level, but this second level is where you get to wow us with all of the impressive extra research that you’ve done, which goes beyond what is taught in the course.

💡 Every single paragraph of the body needs to relate (in a very obvious way) to the research question, so don’t include tools or research which aren't helping you to answer your question.


Body Part 1: The “course concepts” part

  • Include 3 to 5 course graphs that help you answer your RQ. 
  • As you write, you'll be using economics diagrams and concepts to help to answer your question. By the end of each tool-section, you’ll want to include some data and analysis on your case. That way, you’ll have used the model to help to answer your research question (RQ).  
  • Don't forget to include your evaluations. You can use my CLASPPTM Economics Evaluation model. 
  • After each diagram, it should be very clear to your examiner, how this diagram has contributed to answering your RQ and also how the diagram is somewhat limited.
  • Note that you don't need to explore alternative policies, like you may sometimes choose to do in your Economics IAs.



Body Part 2: The “beyond-the-course” stuff

This is where you really get to impress us. Often this is the part where you’ll actually teach the reader of your paper (an experienced Econ examiner) a thing or two. 💪

  • Share some more-advanced, yet relevant theories and concepts, showing us that you've really pushed yourself. 
  • Impress us. Give us the sense that you really do know how some of the more-sophisticated/complicated economics works in this domain (i.e. anti-competitive behaviour or how economists accurately measure unemployment). 
  • Make sure this section is analytical, rather than descriptive. Don't just explain the hard concept, but link it back to your Research Question. This can be hard, because the theories are challenging to even understand, but it can really raise your grade. Make sure all of your theories in this section are really helping you answer your RQ.
  • A graph or calculation of some kind is recommended here, if you can include one. However, overall impressiveness and usefulness (to your RQ) of your 'extended research' is what matters.
  • Sometimes you might learn that there is an analytical method which is commonly used in this specific domain (i.e. a ratio that isn’t taught in the course, or a more advanced way of measuring consumer confidence). Feel free to include that in your EE here, as long as it links to your RQ.
  • If you can’t think of what else to include, ask people for advice.


Conclusion (Approx. 600 words)

Take time with your conclusion, so you can emphasize and clarify the most important insights you've discovered and how it all fits together to answer your RQ.

  • Pull your previous mini-conclusions together (synthesize them), make some interesting insights based on them. This is where you really get to shine. 
  • Include several of your most interesting evaluative insights (i.e. pros and cons, short-term vs long-term effects, possible stakeholder conflicts). Here is some more help on writing effective evaluations in Econ (CLASPPTM Economics Evaluation model again).  
  • Don’t include any new data in your conclusion.
  • Mention at least two weaknesses and limitations of your research. Show you have really reflected on your work. You could discuss possible inaccuracies in your analysis and the reasons for those. You'll do much more along these lines in your reflections, but it still helps to point out a few things here. For example, mention other information would it be very valuable to have, but which you was unavailable to you. Or you could explain some other “unresolved questions”, which you weren’t able to answer for some good reason.
  • There is a real art to conclusions and I'd be happy to talk you through yours to make sure you tick all the right boxes, in an easy-to-follow, logical way. 
  • Note that you don't need to include any recommendations (i.e. to the government) in your EE.



(Not included in your word count. Aim for around 2-3 pages of sources)

This is where you reaffirm (remind the marker) all the great sources you used.


  • Remember that your EE is mostly focused on your secondary sources.
  • Include at least 3 books (one of these can be the textbook), 4 internet sources, and at least 3 sources which show your willingness to work hard and go beyond the minimum requirements (i.e. a trade journal, an advanced academic paper, an interview).
  • Generally you should have at least one primary source (i.e. an interview, a survey, observation data, focus group data), but it is not mandatory to have a primary source.
  • Make sure all of your bibliography sources are link to in-text references in your EE.



(Not included in your word count. Often this is around 3 or 4 pages)

The EE guide us us that “appendices are not an essential part of the extended essay and examiners will not read them, or use any information contained within them, in the assessment of the essay” (EE guide, Page 87). And yet, they are still commonly used and I can tell you that I normally advise my students to include them and I often find them helping when I'm marking EEs).   

I would say the best use of appendices is to include artefacts from your process, which help to show the hard work that you’ve done.


  • Transcripts from your interviews, questionnaire results, your raw pricing data table, additional analysis (i.e. calculations) you did which didn’t fit in the body of your EE.
  • You won’t exactly get “credit” for the work, but they can help to show how methodically you have worked and that cannot hurt your mark. 


Cite this page as:
Woods, Tim. “How to Structure an Economics Extended Essay” IBMastery 2 March 2022. Web. [i.e. August 17, 2022 --> CHANGE THIS TO TODAY’S DATE] <>


Tim is available for private tutoring, almost every day, to support you in writing your best Economics Extended Essay. He's an expert Economics teacher (a fully IB-trained teacher and marker) with over 18 years of teaching experience. 🚀 Click here to meet with Tim on Zoom and talk through your work. 🚀

Tim also helps students with Theory of Knowledge, IB Business Management, IB Global Politics, IB History, IB English and College Admissions essays.