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World Studies Extended Essay: Getting Started

A guide to the research and writing process required for students completing the IB World Studies Extended Essay.

The WSEE - What to Do First, Second, Next?

Here's the recommended sequence for tasks required when undertaking a WSEE.

First:  Choose from one of six global themes

Second:  Identify a topic in terms of a general research area

Third:  Identify the two disciplinary lenses (two IB subjects) through which to explore the topic

Fourth: Draft possible research questions

Fifth:  In your preliminary reading, investigate possible sources/methods for data collection.  Ask yourself: are there sufficient resources to explore the research question? Consider other questions in your early investigation.

Global Theme, Topic, and Disciplinary Lenses

Each WSEE must be registered under one of the six global themes. You will need to first decide which of these you are interested in. Ask yourself:

  • Is the interdisciplinary WSEE is a better way to explore my topic than the single subject essay?
  • Which disciplines will I use? (Two Diploma Programme subjects are required, one of which you must be studying.)

Questions to Ask Yourself in Your Early Investigation

Question mark and book - Britannica ImageQuestQuestions to consider

  • What has already been written about this topic?
  • Is it easy to find sources of information?
  • Is there a range of different sources available?
  • If I want to collect my own data, is this feasible?
  • Is there a range of views and perspectives on the topic?
  • What interesting questions have started to emerge from my reading so far?

Research Question

Identify a working research question early on but ... be prepared to change it as a result of your research!

Preliminary Reading

To keep track of whatever you discover in your preliminary reading, first set up an RRS (Researcher's Reflection Space) in whatever format you are happiest with. See: 

Try reading "around" your topic before settling on a research question.  This will: 

  • make you aware of what sources of information are available to you
  • form the basis of demonstrating your knowledge and understanding in context - "Criterion B" in IB's rubric for assessing the EE.

Criterion B requires you to:

  • demonstrate how your own research fits into the wider subject areas or global theme under which you are submitting it 
  • justify why your particular topic is worthy of investigation.


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