Universities set sights on Priestley students

UNIVERSITIES have lowered their grade requirements for students who have successfully completed the Extended Project at Priestley College.

Grace Duffy, who achieved an A* with her dissertation on the bleaching of the coral reefs, had her original offer from Birmingham reduced from an A to a B in each A-Level on the strength of her project.

“It is great news for me because Birmingham was my first choice to study a Masters in Geology with a year abroad,” said the former Penketh High pupil.

“I wanted to do my best in the EPQ anyway, but it definitely gave me more motivation knowing it could influence my offer.”

The Extended Project allows students to choose their own topics and titles, which have been as varied as ‘Are humans really made of stardust?’ to ‘What makes the perfect pop song?’

Most students complete a dissertation of at least 6,000 words. Students can opt to complete an investigation, experiment, field study, performance or an artefact plus 2,000 words instead.

Many universities reduce offers for successful EPQ candidates because it demonstrates a number of key skills including the ability to learn independently.

Almost half of the students who take the course alongside their other A-Levels and BTECs at Priestley secure A* or A, two thirds achieve a grade B or above.

Former Sir Thomas Boteler student Daniel James also completed his EPQ early and received a reduced university offer.

At Priestley he is studying Classical Civilisation, History, English Language and Literature and has now accepted an offer to study Ancient History at the University of Manchester.

However, it was the University of Liverpool that lowered its grade requirements after he achieved an A in his EPQ.

Daniel wrote about how Julius Caesar became so powerful that he could claim to be a dictator for life.

​“EPQ has helped me to develop numerous skills like the ability to collate and critically analyse a selection of useful sources and giving an effective and efficient presentation,” he said.

“Delivering my presentation also greatly increased my confidence when presenting to, or speaking in front of, a group.”

For aspiring chemical engineer Ben Hilton, the Extended Project was a chance to write about a vast area of research in his chosen field.

He investigated whether hydrogen fuel cells are the best option to power transport. The A* grade he achieved meant that a one of his grade requirements for studying Chemical Engineering at university was reduced from an A to B.

“I thought an EPQ would be helpful, as it would give me an academic topic to talk about at length in an interview,” said the former St Gregory’s Catholic High School pupil.