Independent Research

An EPQ is an A-level standard standalone qualification designed to extend and develop studies beyond the A-level syllabus. It is valued by universities and worth the equivalent of half an A-Level, or 28 UCAS points.

The EPQ encourages pupils to develop first-class research skills, to synthesise information from a variety of differing sources, and to become accustomed to the demands of independent study. 

At Winchester all pupils in the lower sixth study for an EPQ alongside their A-level choices. This year-long independent research project gives individuals the freedom to pursue their own interests, with the support of an academic mentor and dedicated research skills teaching.

“EPQs are perfect for people interested in the world; not just beyond what you can study at A-Level, but on a fundamentally different, more exploratory, axis.”

Oscar's EPQ

Exploring Emergence

I set out to explore what seemed to be a fundamental property of the universe: that simple things working together could somehow behave in a far more complex way than their individual rules. To begin to understand these emergent behaviours, I built computer models of their behaviour: I modelled birds flocking and reaction diffusion, and an ant colony, and then applied that system as an heuristic for the travelling salesman problem. I created my own neural network, which consisted of many simple nodes, connected in some way, which makes them seem intelligent.

Emergence seems so ubiquitous we hardly notice it, but now I’m seeing it more and more, in everything from soil ecosystems to economics to locust swarms. An appreciation for the properties of these kinds of systems, and what their common faults are, is a useful way of looking at systems of all scales.


Supporting Independent Learning

"The EPQ helped me improve my programming skills but it also helped me with writing documentation and explaining my ideas. I found the freedom we were allowed to undertake our projects exciting.

Weekly meetings with my supervisor helped me focus and continue making progress, but they also helped me keep the scope of the project in check and set feasible targets."

“The EPQ was perfect for me as a way to pursue a project I was personally interested in. ”


Adrien's EPQ


As part of his research, Adrien evaluated the economic and geopolitical implications of a potential currency crisis in Turkey, analysing the country's economy using macroeconomic data to predict which factors could lead to such an event, and reflecting on the implications of Turkey potentially requiring financial assistance from China and/or Russia.

Adrien Joly

Deepening Learning

"I loved the process of constantly wanting to take my work to the next level; being able to produce, with the help and advice of many people, more than was asked of me. The research I undertook allowed me to go in many different directions, and highlighted the importance of never ignoring the lessons of history, geography and politics of a country to answer a question like this."

“That’s what the EPQ allows: the ability to really get under the surface of a problem or project, to take it way beyond the curriculum.”


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