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A Biology Extended Essay involves gathering data, usually by doing an experiment and then by analysing the data. The difference with Internal Assessment is that most of the marks come from the discussion that emerges from the analysis of the data. Although it is technically possible to do a theoretical Extended Essay, it does not really offer enough scope to meet all the criteria and I will therefore not recommend or support a theoretical Extended Essay.

Before attempting or deciding to do an Extended Essay in Biology, please read the Extended Essay guide. It is the general guide to the Extended Essay but it does contain specific details for Biology.

Before starting any work at all on the Extended Essay, it is important that you come and see me to discuss why you want to do it and what topics you can do it in. To help with this, it is best if you come with a list of topics that particularly interest you from the syllabus. As a rule of thumb, I will only recommend that students wishing to study Biology or biologically related courses do an Extended Essay in Biology.

The task doesn't only involve writing about something biological, it will involve gaining data and this will take a lot of time. Gaining data can be done in any of the two following ways:

  • Doing experiments at school
  • Work experience

At school, we can look at the following when doing experiments for an Extended Essay:

  • Bacteria (limited types of data that can be collected from it and the experiments fail on a quantitative level because the classroom environment is not aseptic)
  • Yeast
  • Plants and plant material is possible but not thrilling
  • Human involvement can be done but is limited to heart rate and mass measurements when doing physical activity and then volunteers have to sign a consent form (no substance can be consumed as part of the experiment even if it is part of their usual routine such as smoking, being a vegetarian or taking supplements such as vitamins).
  • Use of animal products from the food trade is allowed (limited applications for experiments)
  • Enzymes
  • Environmental studies (very limited possibilities and it is very hard to get empirical data).

Whatever you decide to research, it is important that it complies with the Animal Experimentation Policy issued by the IB.

You will not be able to do exactly the same Extended Essay but these are some of the pieces of work I have supervised in recent years:

  • Does Huntington's Disease affect a sufferer's sleep/wake cycle by deregulating the expression of the genes Bmal1 and Per2?*
  • Which is more effective as an antibacterial: Natural or Chemical antibacterials?
  • Does an increase in altitude also increase the heart rate of male athletes during exercise on the Isle of Man?
  • Does the transport of fruit and vegetables to the Isle of Man have an effect on the vitamin C content?
  • Which Fish available for inhabitant of the Isle of Man has the most omega 3 available?
  • Is the rate of proliferation of grade IV glioblastoma UPAB cells affected by the exogenous addition of different isomers of boswellic acid?*

Research questions with * at the end involved work experience and the experiments were not done in school

Please bear in mind that doing the Extended Essay requires a lot of work, not only for you but also for your supervisor so please do the work expected of you and hand it in on time.