The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) is widely recognized for its demanding academic curriculum. At the heart of it, lies the Extended Essay (EE) that serves as an independent research paper. The EE pushes students to investigate a subject of their choosing within the program’s six subject areas.

For those studying English in the IBDP, the EE presents an exhilarating chance to delve into the realms of literature, language, and communication. 

Throughout this blog, we aim to present a diverse array of captivating IBDP English EE topics that will both inspire and assist you in selecting your intriguing research question.

Topic #1

  1. The portrayal of mental illness in classic literature: A comparative analysis of characters’ mental health
Visual representation conveying the nuanced portrayal of mental illness in classic literature. Artistic expressions capture the complexities and challenges faced by characters grappling with psychological well-being in timeless literary works.

The portrayal of mental illness in classic literature offers a fascinating and rich topic for an Extended Essay. This is particularly through a comparative analysis of characters’ mental health. We see this in works such as “Hamlet” by William Shakespeare, “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Brontë, and “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger. This research would involve a detailed examination of the protagonists’ psychological states. It would involve exploring their symptoms, struggles, and the impact of their mental health conditions on their lives and relationships. This topic also allows for an exploration of the social and cultural factors influencing the characters’ mental health. Furthermore, it describes the potential for challenging prevailing societal attitudes towards mental illness during the time the works were written. Additionally, the essay can delve into the techniques employed by the authors to portray mental illness. These techniques could be symbolism, narrative structure, and characterization.

The student can: 

  • — Analyze how authors depict mental health issues in literary works.
  • — Discuss the impact such depictions have on the reader’s perception and understanding of mental illness.
  • — Examine the role of literature in destigmatizing mental health.

Topic #2

  1. The influence of social media on language
Visual depiction illustrating the profound influence of social media. The image encapsulates the impact, both positive and negative, that online platforms exert on individuals and society at large.

The influence of social media on language is a captivating and pertinent topic for an Extended Essay. With the widespread adoption of platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok, the way we communicate has undergone significant transformations. This research would delve into the impact of social media on language use. It would examine how these platforms have shaped linguistic norms, vocabulary, and grammar. Additionally, the essay can investigate the effects of social media on written and spoken language outside of digital platforms. It could consider how online communication practices have influenced everyday conversations, informal writing styles, and even professional discourse. This topic would involve a blend of linguistic analysis, sociolinguistics, and media studies, providing an opportunity for interdisciplinary research. It would also lend a comprehensive understanding of the evolving nature of language in the digital age.

The student can: 

  • — Investigate the effect of social media platforms on the English language.
  • — Explore changes in grammar, vocabulary, and communication patterns.
  • — Analyze the impact of social media on language acquisition and communication skills.

Topic #3

  1. How we see the resistance to the abolishment of slavery in America through the slaves
Visual representation depicting the historical reality of slavery in America. This image captures the harsh and systemic nature of slavery, highlighting the need for remembrance and understanding of this dark chapter in American history.

The portrayal of resistance to the abolishment of slavery in America can be observed through the experiences of slaves. We see this in Mark Twain’s “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”. This makes it an intriguing and meaningful topic for an Extended Essay. Twain’s novel provides a unique lens to explore the complex dynamics of slavery and how enslaved individuals navigated their circumstances. By analyzing characters like Jim, a runaway slave, the student can examine their acts of resistance, both overt and subtle. It can also examine their agency in challenging the institution of slavery. Additionally, the essay can explore the broader historical context of the abolitionist movement. It could also look at how Twain’s portrayal of resistance aligns with or challenges prevalent attitudes of the time.

Topic #4

  1. The representation of gender roles in Shakespearean plays
Visual representation exploring the intricate relationship between Shakespearean plays and gender roles. The image reflects the complex dynamics and societal expectations of gender as portrayed in the timeless works of William Shakespeare.

The representation of gender roles in Shakespearean plays offers a captivating and multifaceted topic for an Extended Essay. Shakespeare’s works, such as “Macbeth,” “Romeo and Juliet,” and “Twelfth Night,” provide a rich tapestry of characters that challenge. They also reinforce societal expectations surrounding gender. This topic invites an in-depth analysis of the portrayal of male and female characters. It examines their agency, power dynamics, and how they navigate social constraints. By exploring the complexities of characters like Lady Macbeth, Juliet, and Viola, the student can investigate how Shakespearean plays both conform to and subvert traditional gender norms.

Furthermore, the essay can delve into the language and rhetoric used to depict gender. This could include instances of cross-dressing, disguise, and gender ambiguity, shedding light on the performative aspects of gender identity. Additionally, this topic allows for an exploration of the historical context of Shakespeare’s time. This view considers how societal expectations and cultural norms influenced the representation of gender roles on the Elizabethan stage. Overall, studying the representation of gender roles in Shakespearean plays provides a rich opportunity for literary analysis. It also allowed for a deeper understanding of the complexities of gender dynamics in early modern society. 

The student can: 

  • — Explore the portrayal of gender roles in selected plays by William Shakespeare.
  • — Analyze how these portrayals reflect the social norms and expectations of the time.
  • — Discuss the relevance of these gender roles in contemporary society.

Topic #5

  1. Postcolonial literature and identity
Visual representation exploring the intersection of postcolonial literature and identity. The image captures the nuanced exploration of cultural identity and its evolution in the context of postcolonial narratives.

Postcolonial literature and identity serve as a compelling and relevant topic for an Extended Essay. Postcolonial literature encompasses a vast range of literary works produced by authors from countries formerly colonized by European powers. This topic offers an opportunity to explore the complex relationship between literature, culture, and identity in postcolonial contexts. By examining texts from various regions and time periods, the student can analyze how postcolonial writers navigate issues of race, ethnicity, language, and heritage. One such text is the works of Chinua Achebe, Salman Rushdie, or Jamaica Kincaid. This topic invites a critical examination of how postcolonial literature challenges and subverts colonial narratives and questions dominant power structures. It explores the formation and negotiation of individual and collective identities in the aftermath of colonization.

Furthermore, this essay can delve into the influence of cultural hybridity, diaspora, and historical trauma on postcolonial identity formation. By studying postcolonial literature and identity, the student can gain a deeper understanding of the complexities of decolonization, cultural diversity, and the ongoing legacy of colonialism in the contemporary world.

The student can: 

  • — Study the theme of identity in postcolonial literature.
  • — Examine how writers explore the complexities of identity formation in the aftermath of colonialism.
  • — Analyze the impact of colonial history and cultural heritage on individual and collective identities.

Topic #6

  1. What are the reasons behind the failure of the American dream?
Visual representation symbolizing the disillusionment and challenges marking the end of the American Dream. The image reflects the evolving narrative and complexities associated with the traditional notion of achieving success and prosperity in the United States.

The examination of the reasons behind the failure of the American Dream in texts like Ernest Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea”, presents a thought-provoking and relevant topic for an Extended Essay. The American Dream is often associated with ideals of opportunity, success, and upward mobility. This is portrayed as elusive or unattainable in literature. Through a close analysis of Hemingway’s novella, the student can explore the challenges, setbacks, and disillusionment faced by characters as they pursue their dreams. This topic allows for an investigation into the underlying factors that contribute to the failure of the American Dream. These factors are societal pressures, economic inequalities, the pursuit of unrealistic aspirations, or the impact of external circumstances.

Furthermore, the essay can delve into the ways in which Hemingway’s narrative style and symbolism reflect the disintegration or unattainability of the American Dream, highlighting themes of struggle, resilience, and the loss of idealism. Exploring texts like “The Old Man and the Sea” provides insights into the American dream’s societal implications and limitations.

Topic #7

  1. Why T.S Eliot’s “Wasteland” is a modernist text and how it shows the anarchy in the world through the text
Visual interpretation encapsulating T.S. Eliot's 'The Waste Land.' The image seeks to capture the bleak and fragmented landscape portrayed in the poem, reflecting its themes of disillusionment, cultural decay, and the search for meaning in a desolate world.

T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” is a prime example of modernist literature, making it an intriguing and suitable topic for an Extended Essay. This poem, published in 1922, reflects the fragmented and disillusioned mindset of post-World War I society. Through its fragmented structure, diverse voices, and intertextual references, “The Waste Land” captures the disorienting and chaotic nature of the modern world. The poem explores themes of alienation, despair, and the loss of traditional values, depicting a world plagued by anarchy and spiritual decay.

By closely analyzing Eliot’s use of imagery, symbolism, and allusions, the student can uncover the portrayal of societal breakdown, moral emptiness, and the search for meaning in a desolate landscape. This topic invites an exploration of the influence of modernist literary techniques on the representation of anarchy in the text, shedding light on the broader social and cultural context of the early 20th century. By studying “The Waste Land” as a modernist text that reflects the anarchy in the world, the student can gain a deeper understanding of how literature engages with the complexities of the modern condition.

Topic #8

  1. How Metaphysical poetry and modern man can be related to the Renaissance period. Can we understand it through John Donne’s poetry and Christopher Marlow’s play “Dr. Faustus”?
Visual exploration of the intertwining realms of Metaphysical Poetry and the Renaissance period. The image encapsulates the intellectual and artistic vibrancy, as well as the philosophical depth, characterizing this era of poetic innovation.

The relationship between Metaphysical poetry, the concept of the modern man, and the Renaissance period presents an intriguing and interconnected topic for an Extended Essay. The Metaphysical poets, including John Donne, flourished during the Renaissance, reflecting the intellectual and cultural shifts of the era. These poets engaged with complex metaphysical themes, exploring the nature of existence, spirituality, and the relationship between the individual and the world. This topic offers an opportunity to examine how the Metaphysical poets, through their innovative use of language and imagery, grappled with the challenges and uncertainties of the changing Renaissance world.

Additionally, Christopher Marlowe’s play “Dr. Faustus” can provide further insights into the understanding of modern man during the Renaissance. By analyzing the characters, themes, and philosophical underpinnings of both Donne’s poetry and Marlowe’s play, the student can explore the connection between the metaphysical concerns of the poets and the concept of modern man in the Renaissance period. This topic invites a deep exploration of the intellectual, cultural, and philosophical currents of the Renaissance, shedding light on the complex relationship between literature, humanism, and the shifting paradigms of the time.

Topic #9

  1. What are the reasons that increased the faith of people in God during the age of the Victorian period?
Visual representation delving into the theme of faith during the Victorian Age. The image captures the complexities and shifts in religious beliefs, moral values, and spiritual struggles that defined this significant period in history.

The investigation of the reasons that increased people’s faith in God during the Victorian period, as depicted in Charles Dickens’ novel “David Copperfield,” presents a compelling topic for an Extended Essay. The Victorian era was marked by significant social and economic changes, including industrialization, urbanization, and scientific advancements. Amidst these transformations, individuals sought solace and meaning, often turning to religion for comfort and guidance. By closely analyzing Dickens’ portrayal of characters’ religious beliefs and experiences in “David Copperfield,” the student can explore the factors that influenced the deepening of faith during this time. This topic invites an examination of the societal pressures, moral dilemmas, and personal struggles faced by characters like David Copperfield, as well as the role of religious institutions and practices in providing stability and a sense of purpose.

Furthermore, the essay can explore how Dickens’ narrative techniques, such as symbolism and characterization, reflect the Victorian era’s religious climate and the quest for spiritual redemption. By studying the increase in faith during the Victorian period through “David Copperfield,” the student can gain a deeper understanding of the intersection of religion, literature, and society in a time of profound change.

Topic #10

  1. Eco-criticism and nature in literature
Visual representation exploring Eco-criticism and nature in literature. The image reflects the intricate relationship between literary works and the natural world, highlighting themes of environmental consciousness and ecological perspectives.

Eco-criticism and the exploration of nature in literature offer a compelling and timely topic for an Extended Essay. Eco-criticism, an interdisciplinary approach, examines the relationship between literature and the environment, emphasizing the representation of nature in literary works. This topic allows for an in-depth analysis of how authors across different periods and genres depict and engage with the natural world. By studying texts that prominently feature nature, such as Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden,” Emily Dickinson’s nature poetry, or Barbara Kingsolver’s “Prodigal Summer,” the student can explore how nature is portrayed, its significance within the narrative, and broader environmental implications. This topic invites an investigation into how literature reflects and responds to environmental concerns, such as climate change, deforestation, and the loss of biodiversity.

Additionally, the essay can explore the power of nature as a source of inspiration, solace, or ecological activism within literary works. By delving into eco-criticism and the representation of nature in literature, the student can gain a deeper understanding of the intricate relationship between human culture, literature, and the natural world. This will foster a greater appreciation for environmental stewardship and sustainability. 

The student can:

  • — Investigate how nature is portrayed in literature.
  • — Focus on the representation of the environment and its relationship with human societies, values, and ethics.
  • — Analyze the role of literature in raising environmental awareness and promoting ecological sustainability.


The topics mentioned above encompass a wide array of areas within English studies, ranging from literature and language to cultural analysis and societal issues. When choosing your EE topic, it is crucial to consider your interests and strengths, while also assessing the feasibility of conducting research within the given parameters. Careful planning of the research and writing process, including seeking guidance from your supervisor and utilizing available resources, is essential. With dedication and enthusiasm, your English EE can evolve into a rewarding and enlightening exploration of a subject that genuinely captivates you.

If you would like support on your extended essay, please contact us via our website at We can help with EEs in any subject under the IBDP. 

Leave a Comment