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World Studies Extended Essay: Introduction

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

The World Studies Extended Essay (WSEE)

Unisphere World Globe, New York City - Britannica ImageQuestWhy write a WSEE? It allows you to conduct an in-depth, interdisciplinary investigation into an issue of contemporary global importance that you care about. 

The World Studies Extended Essay (WSEE) has to meet all the presentation requirements of the IB Extended Essay, including having a maximum length of 4,000 words.  

See the Extended Essay guide for more details.  WSEE documents are in the box to the right.


Examples of potential topics include:

Global health crisis Climate change Terrorism
Energy migration Migration Global health problems
Disaster relief and rehabilitation Civil protest and unrest Global financial crisis
Disadvantaged groups Infringements on human rights Discrimination and persecution

Interdisciplinary Approach

 'Satire on False Perspective. Steel engraving, c1860, after a painting, 1753, by William Hogarth - Britannica ImageQuestThe perspective of just one subject may not be adequate to address complex issues like these. The WSEE will require you to bring together aspects of different disciplines to examine your chosen topic. 

The IB recommends that you use two IB Diploma Programme subjects, one of which you must be studying. 

You're not expected to address the topic in its full complexity, but you should aim to generate understandings that are new to you.

It would be very easy for you to rely on common-sense understanding of a global issue or more informal insights. However, the academic nature of the EE requires you to understand a global issue through disciplinary lenses.


Focusing water waves - Britannica ImageQuestIn a WSEE, you focus on just one or two contexts in some depth, for example: 

  • An examination of two geographical case studies exploring whether religious beliefs affect attitudes towards HIV/AIDS in Oslo and Mombasa. 
  • An examination of one or two events evaluating relief efforts after natural disasters, with suggestions of ways to make these more responsive. 
  • An examination of one or two interventions investigating what determines the success or failure of sanctions imposed by the United Nations. 

You can refer to other places and events beyond the primary context(s) when relevant to the argument.  This can demonstrate global consciousness in your writing. However, a really detailed study of these additional cases would not be possible given the 4,000-word limit.

Extended Essay Coordinator

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Susan Trower
West Sound Academy
16571 Creative Drive NE
Poulsbo, WA 98370

WSEE Documents

WSEE Subject Guide and worksheets

RRS (Researcher's Reflection Space)

RPPF (Researcher's Planning and Progress Form) examples:

IB Extended Essay Guide & Timeline

Check the Extended Essay guide for specific guidance on completing the various steps in the research and writing process of the EE, and these documents:


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