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Extended Essay: World Studies EE's

Everything you need to know about the Extended Essay and more!

Everything you need to know about the WSEE



The chosen topic for the World Studies Extended Essay (WSEE) must address both a local and a global issue of significance, and invite an interdisciplinary approach, meaning that two approved IB subjects should be used as an interdisciplinary critical lens to answer the research question. The most successful topics reveal connections between specific and/or local places, people, phenomena or experiences, and the larger global framework in which they take place (IBO 2010). 





Interdisciplinary research

  • Global issues often invite an interdisciplinary approach.
  • Different individuals and groups bring different perspectives, areas of expertise, and interests to the same topic. 
  • Spending time thinking about an issue and exploring a wide variety of sources will provide a deeper and richer research experience. 
  • In a WSEE, crafting a research question does not begin with the subject, but with the issue. 

The WSEE helps to develop international-mindedness and is the only EE category that specifically invites students to deeply explore the concept of global consciousness. 

Global Sensitivity 

A sensitivity to local phenomena and experiences as expressions of developments on the planet

Global Understanding 

The capacity to think in flexible and informed ways about issues of global significance. 


Global Self 

A developing perception of self as a global actor and member of humanity, capable of making a positive contribution to the world.



World Studies Extended Essays MUST fall within one of the following six categories:

  • Science, technology and society
  • Culture, language and identity
  • Conflict, peace and security
  • Equality and inequality
  • Health and development
  • Environmental and/or economic sustainability

Click here to learn more about the WSEE sub-categories. 



From the IB:

Introduction to the World Studies Extended Essay (WSEE)

The WSEE invites students to conduct an in-depth, interdisciplinary investigation into an issue of contemporary global importance (maximum 4,000 words). 


Here are some examples of potential topics include:

  • Global health crisis
  • Climate change
  • Terrorism
  • Energy security
  • Migration
  • Global health problems
  • Disaster relief and rehabilitation
  • Civil protest and unrest
  • Global financial crisis
  • Disadvantaged groups
  • Infringements on human rights
  • Discrimination and persecution

Interdisciplinary approach

The perspective of just one subject may not be adequate to address complex issues like those in the list above. The WSEE therefore requires students to bring together aspects of different disciplines to illuminate their chosen topic. 

Students should use two Diploma Programme subjects. It is strongly recommended that students are undertaking a course of study in at least one of the subjects chosen for their essay.

Students are not expected to address the topic in its full complexity, but should aim to generate understandings that are new to them. 


The aims of the WSEE are to enable students to:

  • frame and understand complex contemporary world problems for in-depth study
  • gather and synthesize insights from two different disciplines to better understand the issue 
  • develop global consciousness—a disposition to recognize and understand local and global relationships in dynamic interaction 
  • view themselves as interpreters of and actors in an increasingly interconnected world.


Students are encouraged to focus on just one or two contexts in some depth, for example: 

  • The student examines two geographical case studies to explore whether religious beliefs affect attitudes towards HIV/AIDS in Oslo and Mombasa. 
  • The student examines one or two events to evaluate relief efforts after natural disasters, and suggests ways to make these more responsive. 
  • The student examines one or two interventions to investigate what determines the success or failure of sanctions imposed by the United Nations. 

Students can refer to other places and events beyond the primary context(s) when relevant to the argument. In fact, the IB encourages this as it displays global consciousness. However, a detailed contextualized study of these additional cases is impossible within the 4,000-word limit.


WSEE Examiners follow special guidelines that are specific to interdisciplinary essays.  Click here to view a pdf of the published IB page that outlines these specific guidelines.