EPQ – An Introduction

There’s nothing more exciting to me than a new project to engulf myself in, and this is no exception. Today marks Day 1 of my AQA Extended Project Qualification (EPQ).

As the audience for my blog is spread across continents, here is a quick explanation:

Unlike other AS Level qualifications, an EPQ can be completed on any topic of personal interest. Literally, anything. Criminal Law; Scientology; the development of entertainment across the past century. The choice is unlimited. After choosing your topic of interest you then carry out months-worth of intense research, before completing what is essentially a dissertation. You can either write a 5000 word report on your findings, focusing on a specific question, or you can produce a ‘product’ or ‘artefact’ followed by a 1000 word report. What’s more, there is no exam at the end of an Extended Project: just a presentation on our EPQ in front of a board of examiners and a group of other students in the same position. Throughout the EPQ you fill in a Candidate Record Form (CRF), and are assigned a supervisor or mentor to guide you. Overall, however, you work independently to achieve the best project possible, which I think is why it appeals to me so much.

This EPQ runs from now, January, all the way until October, so we have plenty of time to complete our projects.Not that we have time to waste, of course. With such a heavy workload (especially on top of 3 content-heavy A Level courses) time management will be key to success, as well as strong public speaking, organisation, dissertation writing, and recognition of bias. In short, the AQA Extended Project Qualification is going to be hugely beneficial in developing a portfolio of key skills, which will be vital in my career in film production.

So here’s my idea.

I plan on creating the ideal dystopia for a modern audience. To do this, I will run a public questionnaire to find out what the population’s greatest fears are regarding society and politics. Then, I will take the most popular results and model an allegory around them, writing a dystopian novella which I will eventually publish to provide an interactive reading experience for my audience.

With my initial idea in mind, there is a great deal of research that I will need to carry out:

  • The meaning and origin of the dystopian genre: before I begin to create my own dystopia, it is important that I completely understand what makes a narrative “dystopian”. This will include compiling a list of codes and conventions for the genre, which will stand as the foundations of my novella alongside the questionnaire results.
  • An analysis of existing dystopias: I will read and watch a variety of existing dystopian novels and films, analysing their success and carrying out background research into their historical context to discover how their creators have applied real societal fears.
  • The questionnaire: I will use an online survey site (such as Survey Monkey) to find out what people’s greatest fears are in modern society and politics. An online questionnaire will be more successful than carrying one out offline as, being anonymous, the participants will be more comfortable giving honest and accurate answers. This is particularly appropriate to this topic of investigation as a large number of people may feel uncomfortable sharing their personal fears; an anonymous, online survey eliminates that fear as there is no way of tracing the answer back to them.
  • Contextual study of the societal issues and fears brought up by participants through the questionnaire. This will be vital to grasp an understanding of why people fear a particular societal or political issue, allowing me to more convincingly create emotion which will allow the audience to interact with the story more naturally.

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