Know the Criteria

It is very important, before you begin writing your EE, that you know what you are being assessed on. The Art EE is different that other EE’s and there is a strong focus on art analysis – with strong use of art vocabulary.

CRITERIA A

This focuses on your FOCUS AND METHODOLOGY

Pay close attention to your topic, the research question and the methodology. This criteria is looking for 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. 

The EE must be specific and sharply focused on a research question that is well connected to the visual arts. In addition to traditional forms of so-called “fine art”, the visual arts should be understood to also include some aspects of architecture, design and contemporary forms of visual culture. 

Titles must give a clear indication that the research is significant and should not, for example, lead to a simple narrative account of an artist’s life or compare the work of two randomly chosen artists. 

While a topic with opportunities for access to original artworks is a good choice, this is not a requirement and students should not shy away from library-based research. 

If students choose a popular topic that has been well researched by others (eg an essay on Banksy or the French Impressionists), they must attempt to structure a research question that may lead to a new point of view, focus or interpretation. 

The significance of the research must be explained and some indication of how the research question relates to existing knowledge in the visual arts must be given. 

In the visual arts, sources are expected to include visual images—some of which (depending on the area of research) may even be the student’s own photographs. 

Students need to demonstrate that their essay has been well planned and that they have selected an appropriate approach to address the research question. 

CRITERIA B

This focuses on your KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING

Students must be critically aware of sources related to their area of study, particularly those that help to place their work in historical, social or cultural context. 

Although the internet can provide a good source of visual material, it is expected that in choosing written sources that support their argument students will move beyond an exclusive reliance on internet references

Students must demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the visual arts through fluency in the use of appropriate terminology when discussing formal artistic aspects (such as terms related to an understanding of the elements and principles of design). 

Vocabulary used by art historians, critics and scholars in cultural studies may also be important (eg, using appropriate vocabulary related to artistic periods or styles). The student must try to maintain a consistent linguistic style throughout the essay. 

CRITERIA C

This focuses on CRITICAL THINKING

Students who are familiar with scholarly writing in the visual arts (art history, art criticism, cultural studies) will be aware of the need for clarity and coherence. 

Students must be aware of the need to give their essays the backbone of developing argument that is clearly related to the research question. 

A clear and logical argument is often achieved by making consistent reference to the research question throughout the essay. 

Personal views, while they may be quite common in the visual arts, need to be supported by reasoned argument, often with reference to images, interviews with artists, site visits etc, as well as carefully evaluated written material. 

While some biographical information may help to advance an argument, the simple recounting of an artist’s life may not always be helpful. 

It is important for students to evaluate their own research, particularly in terms of unresolved issues and further research questions that may be generated by their study. 

CRITERIA D

This focuses on PRESENTATION

This criterion relates to the extent to which the essay conforms to accepted academic standards in relation to how research papers should be presented. It also relates to how well these elements support the reading, understanding and evaluation of the essay. 

Students may provide a section and subsection structure to their essays, if this is appropriate for the topic area chosen. Students should be aware of the appropriate format for their chosen subject. 

Use of images 

Carefully chosen and referenced images form an integral part of an essay in the visual arts. Images should be placed and discussed in the body of the text. They should be scanned or copied at good resolution and be of a reasonable size. 

Referencing images is as important as documenting text. The reference must include: 

  • artist’s or designer’s name 
  • title of the work 
  • ownership 
  • (where relevant) dimensions and media 
  • source from which the image was scanned or downloaded. 

Students should give each image appearing in the body of the essay a brief caption (eg artist’s name and title of the work). Full details can be given in a list of images placed immediately after the bibliography or references. 

Any material that is not original must be carefully acknowledged, with specific attention paid to the acknowledgment and referencing of quotes and ideas. This acknowledgment and referencing is applicable to images, audiovisual material, text, graphs and data published in print and electronic sources. If the referencing does not meet the minimum standard as indicated in the guide (name of author, date of publication, title of source and page numbers as applicable), and is not consistently applied, work will be considered as a case of possible academic misconduct. 

A bibliography is essential and has to be presented in a standard format. Title page, table of contents, page numbers, etc must contribute to the quality of presentation. 

The essay must not exceed 4,000 words of narrative. Students should be aware that examiners will not read beyond the 4,000-word limit, or assess any material presented past this. 

CRITERIA E

This focuses on your ENGAGEMENT with the full process of research and writing your EE.

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, and is based solely on the candidate’s reflections as detailed on the RPPF, with the supervisory comments and extended essay itself as context. 

Students are expected to provide reflections on the decision-making and planning process undertaken in completing the essay. Students must demonstrate how they arrived at a topic as well as the methods and approach used. This criterion assesses the extent to which a student has evidenced the rationale for decisions made throughout the planning process and the skills and understandings developed. 

For example, students may reflect on: 

  • the approach and strategies they chose, and their relative success 
  • the Approaches to learning skills they have developed and their effect on the student as a learner 
  • how their conceptual understandings have developed or changed as a result of their research 
  • challenges they faced in their research and how they overcame these 
  • questions that emerged as a result of their research 
  • what they would do differently if they were to undertake the research again. 

Effective reflection highlights the journey the student has engaged in through the EE process. Students must show evidence of critical and reflective thinking that goes beyond simply describing the procedures that have been followed. 

The reflections must provide the examiner with an insight into student thinking, creativity and originality within the research process. The student voice must be clearly present and demonstrate the learning that has taken place.