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FAQs for the Cambridge International Project Qualification (Cambridge IPQ) 9980

What is the Cambridge IPQ? 

Cambridge International Project Qualification (Cambridge IPQ) is a brand new standalone qualification typically for students aged 16-19 years. It is designed for students to carry out an independent research project to complement their Cambridge International AS or A Level subjects and adds value to their university application. 

It enables students to research and investigate a question which may be linked to their current studies and/or the subject(s) they intent to read at university.

The Cambridge IPQ is not a Cambridge International AS or A Level, but rather a separate standalone qualification.

Why should I consider offering it to my students?

Studying for the Cambridge IPQ allows students to demonstrate engagement with their chosen discipline beyond preparation for an exam. Academic evidence suggests that this sort of deeper engagement will help improve exam performance. It also allows students to position themselves well in university applications. Highly competitive universities value evidence of student passion for their subject. 

What skills are developed through studying for this qualification? 

  • Critical thinking and problem solving
  • Independent research
  • Innovation and creative thinking
  • Reflection
  • Communication

These skills are widely considered essential for success in education and employment.

What will our students have to do? 

They will have to:

  • identify a suitable research topic
  • devise, justify and develop an appropriate research question
  • plan and carry out the research, including undertaking a literature review
  • identify, justify and use appropriate research methods
  • write a 5000 word report
  • use appropriate academic conventions for presentation of the report
  • keep track of their progress using a research log.

When can schools start to teach Cambridge IPQ?

First teaching is from June 2019 onward. The first exam series will be in June 2020 (and then available in November 2020 and the following March 2021 series). 

What is the process involved in studying for the qualification? 

Students select a topic that they are interested in and then develop a research question that they will investigate. Students submit the question to Cambridge International for approval using our Outline Proposal Form. This form will be available from our samples database in early 2020. A Cambridge consultant then reviews the proposal and responds with comments and suggestions. The students then start their research. 

How long should the research report be? 

The research report must not exceed 5000 words. 

Is there a personal reflections section? 

Yes. Students should reflect on the strengths and limitations of the project and also on how their personal views have changed or developed. This reflection can be included throughout the report or as a discrete section. 

Who marks it and what marks are awarded? 

Teachers submit Cambridge IPQ reports to Cambridge International using the Cambridge Secure Exchange (information on the administration of this qualification will be in the Cambridge Handbook for 2020). Our examiners then mark them. 

The grade set is A*-E. 

How is Cambridge IPQ assessed? 

Cambridge IPQ is a single component that is externally assessed (all projects are marked by Cambridge examiners). Students will be eligible for grades A* to E.  Although it is a standalone qualification, it will be graded by Cambridge International at the same standard as a Cambridge International AS Level. 

Do students have to do an oral presentation or viva? 

Teachers are advised to conduct a viva/interview at the end of the project but this is not submitted to Cambridge International for assessment. 

Can students study the Cambridge IPQ while taking AS courses or only in conjunction with AL courses? 

We expect both AS and A Level students to study for this qualification. In our pilot study for this qualification, schools reported offering it to both AS and A Level students.

Are there teaching materials available? 

Yes, there is a syllabus, teacher guide and learner guide for you to refer to as well as an Example Candidate Responses document. Training will also be offered from 2019 onward. In particular your students will find our ‘A Learner’s Guide to the Cambridge International Project Qualification’ useful. This is an interactive pdf covering the whole process.

What is the minimum number of hours a student is expected to spend to complete this research project including report submission? 

Our guided learning hours for this qualification are around the same over a year as a Cambridge International AS Level qualification i.e. approximately 180 hours. The numbers of hours needed to gain the qualification may vary depending on local practice and the learners’ previous experience of the subject. 

Will the examiners have familiarity with the subject areas within which students have undertaken their research projects? 

The examiners have in-depth knowledge of the research process and the skills assessed through the Cambridge IPQ.  Detailed subject knowledge is not required to assess the Cambridge IPQ as the assessment is based upon skills rather than content. 

Are the assessment criterion applied to only the written report or is the viva also considered as evidence toward the final mark? 

The criteria are applied to both the written research report and the research log. We strongly advise that a viva/interview takes place but it is not included in the assessment.

Can students go on to the GPR A Level? 

If a student is studying our Cambridge International AS Global Perspectives & Research (GPR) we would encourage them to continue with their GPR studies at Cambridge International A Level. However if they have not done GPR but they are interested in doing a research focused qualification to add depth and value to their studies then the Cambridge IPQ would be an excellent fit.

Is the qualification recognised by Higher Education (HE)? 

Our recognitions team are working with universities worldwide to recognise the benefits of qualifications such as the Cambridge IPQ and the opportunities it provides for applicants to develop independent study and research skills.

The Cambridge IPQ will equip learners with a coherent theoretical and practical basis of transferable skills and key knowledge suitable for a range of careers in any profession.

Depending on local university entrance requirements, the Cambridge IPQ may permit or assist progression directly to university courses in a range of subjects.

We strongly encourage prospective university applicants to provide information about their Cambridge IPQ in their personal statement. This is because from our discussion with HE some universities will take the students’ performance in the Cambridge IPQ into account in their application.

In the UK the Cambridge IPQ will appear in the UCAS Apply tab and so students will have the opportunity to include their grade if they have it at the time of applying. If their grade is pending the referee will be able to add a predicted grade.

Is Cambridge IPQ counted into AICE?

The AICE diploma is built around Cambridge International AS & A Levels, and as Cambridge IPQ is a standalone qualification it will not be counted into AICE.

For further information

Further details on the Cambridge IPQ can be found on this page of our website.

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