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Economics Extended Essay: A Complete Guide (Including Topics)

Are you looking for a complete guide on Economics Extended Essay? You’ve come to the right place.

The IB diploma program is a comprehensive education framework that requires students to:

As an IB student, you must compose a 4,000-word autonomous, self-directed essay on a topic of your choosing. An extended essay (EE) in economics gives you the chance to do an in-depth research on a topic of personal interest that is academically rigorous and worthy of study.

Engaging in and completing the extended essay in economics enables you to:

The extended essay involves around 40 hours of preparation, with the assistance of a school-based EE supervisor. The result of the study should be a clear and well-organized analytical essay that handles the specific research subject successfully.

To succeed in the economics EE, you must be prepared to do research to deepen your understanding of the theory and to collect meaningful and trustworthy data that you can analyze in the context of the theory and the research topic.  

How to Structure an Economics Extended Essay

The table below shows what the structure of your economics extended essay assignment should include:  

Economics Extended Essay Assessment Criteria

The table below is a summary of the assessment criteria that IB uses to grade all the economics extended essays:  

Choosing an Economics Extended Essay Topic

In picking an appropriate topic for your economics EE, you should consider the portion of the course material that most piques your attention. As a framework for investigating the issue that most interests you, your essay should focus on the fundamental economic concepts.

You must undertake secondary research, but you may also conduct pertinent original research depending on the area of economic content selected. You should use the economic theories, methods, and instruments presented in the curriculum to the selected issue.

While choosing the topic for the economics EE make sure that:

You should avoid picking broad topics, as the EE needs critical and reflective thinking abilities on a particular subject.

However, keep in mind that excessively narrow themes sometimes want particular data that may not be accessible.

So choose your topic wisely, making sure that it isn’t too wide or too narrow to fit within the scope of the assignment’s requirements.

Examples of Economics Extended Essay Topics

The following are some examples of economics extended essay topics to give you an idea of what a specific, concise, and focused topic looks like:

Data Collection in Economic Extended Essay

You are encouraged to do original research on any topic covered within the curriculum. In other words, you need to spend time establishing value for your topic be it in microeconomics, macroeconomics or the global economy.

Doing original research goes a long way to show that the title as well as the research question is an issue unanswered by secondary sources.

An EE concentrating on a facet of microeconomics might be undertaken utilizing primary research in the form of surveys, questionnaires, or interviews with pertinent businesspeople. However, these must be directly pertinent to the study subject.

Keep in mind that Extended Essay themes from Macroeconomics and The Global Economy require more secondary research in the form of data extraction from published academic papers, historical records, government publications, newspaper/online articles, and statistical databases.

An EE based on one of these two areas of the syllabus demands the collection and clear use of relevant secondary data and information to aid in the development of reasoned arguments.  

Economics Extended Essay Analysis and Evaluation

The analysis of your economics extended essay can only be effective if you use pertinent economic theories to analyze data collected.

Throughout the EE, you should incorporate applicable economic theories, models, and methods with your research’s findings.

For example, you can exhibit critical analysis and evaluation by a sound assessment and judgment of the amount to which the applicable economic theory is beneficial in addressing your research question and within the context of the issue.

If you cannot establish relevant connections to the selected topic and research issue avoid establishing knowledge claims based on economic theories, models, and instruments.

In order to answer the specific research question, you should include supporting evidence or facts throughout the essay.

Note that Criterion C of the assessment standards requires you to offer precise findings for each analyzed point. In other words, you must provide interim conclusions throughout your writing. You must also demonstrate a critical understanding of the veracity of the obtained and utilized data.

When developing your arguments, you should also demonstrate knowledge and comprehension of the limitations of your own research as well as the flaws in the economic theories and underlying assumptions of the models utilized. To do this, evaluate the extent to which economic theory may or may not describe the examined topic’s facts.  

The Reflection Session for Economics Extended Essay  

Being reflective is one of the IB learner profile characteristics, and it is now a formal requirement of the EE evaluation criteria.

IB uses the Reflections on Planning and Progress Form (RPPF), which has a 6-point value, to evaluate reflections. This is a substantial amount of points, which can determine the distinction between two grades on the final examination.  

As part of the EE requirements, you will be required to hold three mandatory reflection sessions with your supervisor, and each of these reflection sessions appear on the official RPPF.

Reflection in the EE focuses on the process of the assignment itself.

Consider the following areas of reflection for each portion of the RPPF:

The maximum word count for all three reflections is 500. You must write the reflection in your own word and pertain only to your personal learning journey throughout the course.

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Extended essay

The extended essay is an independent, self-directed piece of research, finishing with a 4,000-word paper.

One component of the International Baccalaureate® (IB) Diploma Programme (DP) core, the extended essay is mandatory for all students.

Read about the extended essay  in greater detail.

You can also read about how the IB sets deadlines for the extended essay , find examples of extended essay titles from previous DP students and learn about the world studies extended essay .

Learn more about the extended essay in a DP workshop for teachers . 

DP subject briefs

Our course selection guidance contains subject briefs for both standard and higher level, including information about core requirements, aims and assessment.


economics extended essay criteria

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economics extended essay criteria

How to Structure an Economics Extended Essay

economics extended essay criteria

Here is a step-by-step structure you can follow to complete your Extended Essay in Economics. The layout has changed recently, for example in terms of the cover sheet requirements and the reflections, but this post is up-to-date (and it includes a lot of helpful links).

Before you start writing...   

Here are a few key points and other helpful links you’ll want to use:

Okay, here’s the structure.

The Economics EE Structure

(Not included in your word count.)

The title page should include only the following information:

(Notice that you shouldn’t put your name, date, candidate number, or school name on the EE.)

Table of Contents

All parts of your EE, with page numbers of course. (You can just copy and paste my list to get you started).


(Do not include an Abstract. You'll find abstracts in a lot of the available sample EE, but the new E.E. Guide states that an Abstract should not be included in the EE.)

Introduction (Approx. 250 words)

Methodology   (Approx. 350 words)

I recommend your methodology have two major aspects. One for explaining your sources and one for explaining your tools.

You’ll notice that, as much as you’re telling us what you are going to use to answer the question (sources and tools), you should also point out a limitations and weaknesses of these.  

Methodology Aspect 1: Sources

Methodology  Aspect  2: Graphs and concepts

The Main Body   (Approx. 2800 words)

This is where you’ll be sharing your research, analysis, discussion and evaluation.

Think of this section as also having two main parts.  

💡 Every single paragraph of the body needs to relate (in a very obvious way) to the research question , so don’t include tools or research which aren't helping you to answer your question.

Body Part 1: The “course concepts” part

Note that you don't need to explore alternative policies, like you may sometimes choose to do in your Economics IAs.

Body Part 2: The “beyond-the-course” stuff

This is where you really get to impress us. Often this is the part where you’ll actually teach the reader of your paper (an experienced Econ examiner) a thing or two. 💪

Conclusion   (Approx. 600 words)

Take time with your conclusion, so you can emphasize and clarify the most important insights you've discovered and how it all fits together to answer your RQ.

(Not included in your word count. Aim for around 2-3 pages of sources)

This is where you reaffirm (remind the marker) all the great sources you used.

(Not included in your word count. Often this is around 3 or 4 pages)

The EE guide us us that “appendices are not an essential part of the extended essay and examiners will not read them , or use any information contained within them, in the assessment of the essay” ( EE guide , Page 87). And yet, they are still commonly used and I can tell you that I normally advise my students to include them and I often find them helping when I'm marking EEs).   

I would say the best use of appendices is to include artefacts from your process, which help to show the hard work that you’ve done.


Cite this page as: Woods, Tim. “How to Structure an Economics Extended Essay” IBMastery 2 March 2022. Web. [i.e. August 17, 2022 --> CHANGE THIS TO TODAY’S DATE] <>

economics extended essay criteria

Tim is available for private tutoring , almost every day, to support you in writing your best Economics Extended Essay. He's an expert Economics teacher (a fully IB-trained teacher and marker) with over 18 years of teaching experience . 🚀  Click here to meet with Tim on Zoom and talk through your work.  🚀

Tim also helps students with Theory of Knowledge, IB Business Management, IB Global Politics, IB History, IB English and College Admissions essays.

economics extended essay criteria

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IB Extended Essay: Assessment Criteria

economics extended essay criteria

Score Descriptors for each Criterion:

Printable: Full Rubric  for all subjects

To view details for your SUBJECT, open the correct page below.

economics extended essay criteria

Language & literature (language A)

Language acquisition (language B)


Visual Arts

World Studies

Business Management

Grade Boundaries

economics extended essay criteria

What's Expected?

economics extended essay criteria

Criterion A:  Focus and Method (6 points)

What It Means:   This criterion focuses on the topic, the research question and the methodology. It assesses the explanation of the focus of the research (this includes the topic and the research question), how the research will be undertaken, and how the focus is maintained throughout the essay.

Questions to ask:  

(Source: Susan Trower, via West Sound Academy)

economics extended essay criteria

Criterion B:  Knowledge and Understanding (6 points)

What It Means:   This criterion assesses the extent to which the research relates to the subject area/discipline used to explore the research question; or in the case of the world studies extended essay, the issue addressed and the two disciplinary perspectives applied; and additionally, the way in which this knowledge and understanding is demonstrated through the use of appropriate terminology and concepts.

economics extended essay criteria

(Source: Oxford EE manual, p. 110)

economics extended essay criteria

Criterion C:  Critical Thinking (12 points)

What It Means:   This criterion assesses the extent to which critical thinking skills have been used to analyze and evaluate the research undertaken.

economics extended essay criteria

(Source: Oxford EE Manual p. 111)

Handy Links:

economics extended essay criteria

Criterion D:  Presentation ( 4 points)

What It Means:   This criterion assesses the extent to which the presentation follows the standard format expected for academic writing and the extent to which this aids effective communication.

Criterion E: Engagement

economics extended essay criteria

(Source: Oxford EE Manual p.135)

economics extended essay criteria

(Source: Oxford EE Manual p.133)

Criterion E:  Engagement (6 points)

What It Means:   This criterion assesses the student’s engagement with their research focus and the research process. It will be applied by the examiner at the end of the assessment of the essay, after considering the student’s RPPF (Reflections on planning and progress form).

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economics extended essay criteria

Introduction to the extended essay in economics

economics extended essay criteria

Many of you will be aware of the extended essay and what it includes. The extended essay consists of a 4000 (maximum) word essay on a topic of your choosing and concludes with a viva voce or short interview to confirm the candidates level of competence in the topic area chosen.  You are also required to provide two additional reflections during the process.

The extended essay provides you with the opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge on a particular topic or area of study and is chosen from a list of approved subjects.

Before starting work on the essay you are advised to complete the following tasks:

How to choose a subject and research question to study?

The first piece of advice must be to pick a subject and a research question that is something you will enjoy researching and writing about. The EE involves a considerable amount of work - approximately 40 hours as an average.

In terms of selecting a research topic, why not ask the following question: ‘What is it that I am interested in?  What research question am I genuinely interested in finding out?’.  What topic(s) do I enjoy? 

What to do next?

Having completed all the preparation that you need, having written your research question and essay plan and had all of this approved by your supervisor you are ready to begin.

The essay should be no more than 4000 words in length but this does not include the following:

Contents page, acknowledgements, formulas, calculations, diagrams, tables, the bibliography, citations and references.

Essays can actually achieve a reasonable score just by following these simple rules:

What makes a good title in economics?

economics extended essay criteria

Opportunities for analysis

The topic that you chose should provide an opportunity for you to demonstrates some critical analysis of the information that is gathered. You should avoid any topic that depend entirely on summarizing secondary data, because this leads to an essay that is overly descriptive in nature.  A good way of making your essay more unique is to restrict the scope of the essay, so that it focuses on, for example, a specific business, area or demographic.

Suitable areas of economics

Macroeconomics topics can be chosen, but any research question must be narrowed to a particular part of the economy and is not on the economy as a whole.  An extended essay on economic development would be recommended but the research question would need to relate to a particular aspect of development or a limited area.  It would not be suitable, for example, to examine the effect of some government policy on the development of the whole economy.

The following are some examples of extended essay titles which are suitable for use an economics extended essay.  You will notice that each of these are locally based on an area in which the student is familiar and allow the candidate to investigate their own primary research, applying it to conventional economic theory.  You will also be expected to complete secondary research as part of their essay.  You should also formulate your own critical arguments as well as construct a conclusion, consistent with the findings displayed during the main body of the essay.

Final questions to ask yourself before deciding on your RQ

economics extended essay criteria

Before answering this question, consider how you might collect information to answer your question. For example, how confident are you that you can actually access the information? Remember that any information gained from businesses might be confidential. Some economic questions are also difficult to research because isolating the particular variable is difficult.

When conducting primary research you need to very clear about who your sample frame is going to be and can you get access to those people?  For instance when completing research on the viability of solar panels, your sample frame must be those potential purchasers e.g. those who own their own home with a roof large enough to accommodate it and not just your friends and family.

Can this topic be completed in 4000 words?

4,000 words may seem like a dauntingly large amount but you will be surprised how quickly the words go.  Some topics are far too broad in their scope to tackle in 4,000 words and some economic theory maybe too complex to cover adequately within the word limit.  Try to stay clear of topics more suited to essays in Business Management or Psychology and you will be disadvantaged, unless you also take those subjects as part of your Diploma. Some of these topics would be more suited to a multi-disciplinary approach of World Studies and combining Economics and Psychology.

You also need to be cognisant that this is a project where you should spend around 40 hours. For some topic it would be impossible to survey enough interested people, without giving up your entire summer vacation.

Is your topic academically rigorous enough?

One of the skills of writing the essay is connecting to an area of the syllabus with sufficient complexity so you can demonstrate your ability to critically evaluate and analyse like an economist. Remember that essays which are too descriptive are unlikely to score well.

For more information about completing an extended essay in economics including a sampler essay read the remainder of the pages in this section.

Candidates should expect to spend approximately 40 hours completing their essay.


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  1. Economics Extended Essay: A Complete Guide (Including Topics)

    The Reflection Session for Economics Extended Essay Being reflective is one of the IB learner profile characteristics, and it is now a formal requirement of the EE evaluation criteria. IB uses the Reflections on Planning and Progress Form (RPPF), which has a 6-point value, to evaluate reflections.

  2. Extended essay

    The extended essay is an independent, self-directed piece of research, finishing with a 4,000-word paper. One component of the International Baccalaureate® (IB) Diploma Programme (DP) core, the extended essay is mandatory for all students. Read about the extended essay in greater detail.

  3. Assessment Criteria

    Overview: Five Criterion, each worth various points: A: Focus and Method (6 marks) B: Knowledge and Understanding (6 marks) C: Critical Thinking (12 marks) D: Presentation (4 marks) E: Engagement (6 marks) Total marks possible: 34 (see grade boundaries below) Handy Links: Printable: Full Rubric Printable: A3 size with details

  4. DP Economics: Extended essay

    An extended essay on economic development would be recommended but the research question would need to relate to a particular aspect of development or a limited area. It would not be suitable, for example, to examine the effect of some government policy on the development of the whole economy.