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The Global Politics Extended Essay Structure

Here is a step-by-step structure you can follow to write your IB Extended Essay in Global Politics. This post is up-to-date and it includes a lot of helpful links.

Before we get started

First, 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 it shouldn’t be a small GPC-based issue, like you would use for your HL Extension Presentation (i.e. Catalonian Independence as a Border Issue .) Here is a lot more advice about choosing a perfect Global Politics EE Research Question.
  • Cite all of your sources --preferably using MLA. I expect to see at least 5 cited sources on an average page. Make sure you are really sure about when and how to cite. Here’s a good guide from Purdue to help youEasybib works too.  
  • The EE should be in 12-point, preferably Arial or Times New Roman. And it should be double spaced, with numbered pages.
  • Anything over the 4000 word limit won’t be read by your marker. (I’ve noted below how many words I recommend for each section and which sections don’t count in the word count. Notice that charts, tables and images are not included in the word count.
  • About 18% of your EE marks come from your reflections, so those are also important. Here’s how to do them: How to Write IB EE Reflections (IBM Blog) so be careful with those too.

 Okay, here’s the structure.

The Global Politics EE Structure

Title page

(Not included in your word count.)

The title page should include only the following information:  

  • Your EE title. This part is 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, “Evolution in the Russia–China relationship during and after the 2014–15 Ukraine crisis."
  • Your Research Question. For example, “To what extent is the evolution in the Russia–China relationship during and after the 2014–15 Ukraine crisis evidence that a realist view on international politics still has applicability?”
  • The subject (Global Politics)
  • Your word count 
  • (Notice that you shouldn’t put your name, date, candidate number, or school name on the EE.) 

Contents Page

(Not included in your word count.) 

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

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

(Do not include an Abstract. The new E.E. Guide states that an Abstract should not be included in the EE.)

Introduction (Approximately 350 words)

  • Tell us what you are researching and how (very briefly).
  • Tell us who are some of the groups and individuals affected by the situation you're investigating.
  • Provide some context for your question. Tell us the situation that the question comes from and perhaps a very brief history of the situation. 
  • Tell us your research question again and explain to us why it is important to answer. Explain the significance of the issue and why it is worthy of investigation.
  • Explain why this research is interesting and valuable to your audience.

Methodology (Approximately 450 words) 

(Notice that 350 words isn’t much, so you’ll need to be very concise in your writing here. Not too much depth.)

I recommend your methodology have two major sections. One for explaining your sources and one for your analytical approaches.

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

Methodology Part 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. 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 should come from secondary sources and you should use a range of sources. 
  • Some helpful sources of research are:
    • IGO or NGO reports, news articles, magazine articles, Global Politics textbooks, encyclopaedias, interviews, literature or media reviews, case studies, comparative studies. For some more tips on advanced research approaches in the EE, click here: How to Make Your Good Extended Essay Great (IBM Blog) 
  • Mention any adjustments you made to your research as you progressed with your EE. There should be at least one. For example, you have have noticed that one of the sources you were relying on made a lot of claims that were not supported by evidence and therefore seemed biased, so you did more research to find more reliable sources.

Methodology Part 2: Tools  

  • In this section, explain which of the 7 Types of GP analysis that you used for your EE. In addition to the 7 areas, the GP guide also suggests comparative studies and analyses of discourse, literature or media reviews, and quantitative data analysis as additional research techniques you could use. 
  • Explain the techniques you’re going to be using (very briefly) and why (the purpose of each approach). Also tell us about some weaknesses or limitations of each of the tools you are going to use. This shows us that you know a lot about these tools.
  • You should include several more than one Foundation Theory and at least one Critical Theory, to ensure you are able to explore the topic critically.
  • If you need more help with this, there is a lot more advice and guidance in my Global Politics Mastery course.
  • Again, try to mention any changes made as you progressed with your EE. There should be at least one.  

The “Main Body” Section (Approximately 2800 words) 

This is where you’ll be sharing your research, analysis, discussion and evaluation. In this section you'll explore arguments related to your research question and you will also reflect on the value and limitations of your research. 

Every single paragraph of the body needs to relate (in obvious ways) to the research question. Keep linking back to your EE Research Question (showing how what you're writing is helping you answer the Research Question). Use the 7 Areas of the course.  

Make sure the Main Body section is analytical, rather than descriptive. Don’t include information (i.e. stories) which don’t help you answer your question. Also, avoid lengthly descriptive or narrative writing (i.e. stories that are interesting, but not really answering the question directly). 

Think of the body as having 2 major sections. One that explains the links to the 7 Areas (i.e. comparing similar examples in other countries) and the other for sharing insights you've learned that go beyond the course (i.e. an advanced political theory that helps to answer your RQ.  

Main Body Part 1: The “7 Areas” part 

  • I recommend you include someone from each of the 7 areas
  • Make sure that you are always using the 7 areas links to actually answer your research question. Often, these links aren't clear to the reader. Make it very, very clear why a certain theory (for example) is actually quite useful to help us answer the research question. 
  • It is useful to include some research into the wider political context of the issue, but you shouldn't include much descriptive writing.

Main 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 (and experienced Global Politics teacher) a thing or two. 
  • Pull in some more advanced research, for example from political science professors. Or explore different interpretations of Foundation Theories, so you show that you understand them (and how they relate to your RQ) far more than the average Global Politics student would. 
  • Impress us. Give us the sense that you really do know how this political issue. Show that you’re the expert in several aspects of your question, or that you’ve at least asked experts and understood their answers.
  • Sometimes you might learn that there is an analytical method which is commonly used in your industry (i.e. a ratio that isn’t taught in the course, or a way of measuring something in politics ). Feel free to include that in your EE here (in the Body, Section 2).

Conclusion (Approximately 400 words)

Take time with your conclusion, so you can really emphasise everything you've discovered and how it all fits together to answer your RQ.

  • Pull together all of the best insights you had earlier in the Main Body section. Consider this a place where you are doing a synthesis of your previous insights (which were already a synthesis of the insights you had had, using the 7 Areas). This is where you really get to shine, showing your ability to put the puzzle pieces together and really answer your RQ.
  • Include several evaluative insights (i.e. pros and cons, short-term vs long-term effects, possible stakeholder conflicts). 
  • Don’t include any new data in your conclusion.
  • Mention some weaknesses and limitations of your research. 
    • There should be at least two. Show you have really reflected on your work. You could discuss possible inaccuracies in your work and the reasons for those. This is similar to how you write your EE reflections. (Basically, we reward you for being able to see the weaknesses in your own work). 
    • Discuss other information would it be very valuable to have, but which you couldn't access. Or could you could explain some other “unresolved questions”, which you weren’t able to answer for whatever reason (i.e. access to data).
    • Explain at least one thing that you would have done differently if you were to do it again. 

Bibliography

(Not included in your word count. Aim for around 3-4 pages of sources)  

  • Remember that your EE should be mostly based on 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 with an NGO manager).
  • 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. Sometimes students will include pages of sources, which are never mentioned in the EE body (or linked to as an in-text reference) and these sources are not rewarded. 

Appendices

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

The jury is out about appendices. 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).  That seems pretty clear. And yet, they are still commonly used.

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. For example, you could include the raw data from a survey you've done, or the transcript of an email 'interview' you did.

You can also include:

  • Additional analysis you did which didn’t fit in the body of your EE.
  • Any other interesting data which you would like to refer to in the body of your work (i.e. a political map, which you mention in the main body of your work). You won’t exactly get “credit” for the work, but give you something else to connect the dots in your conclusion. Obviously, the best place for your analysis is in the Main Body, but sometimes you just run out of room (words) and you’ve

 

Finally, when you’ve almost finished your first draft and you’re ready to make it better, take a look at this: How to Make Your Good Extended Essay Great (IBM Blog) 


I (Tim Woods) teach IB Global Politics, Economics, ToK and Business Management in Thailand and I help IB students around the world through IBMastery.com