Inspiration for an EPQ – a student’s perspective


By Eloise Cooper, 6.1

The idea for my EPQ came to me in a Religious Studies class, when we were arguing about the line between a cult and religion. The arguments from all sides (all religions are cults, there is a line between cults and religions, and that they can flow back and forth, etc) appealed to me, and as someone who’s always been interested in social dynamics, I decided to do an EPQ on it, with my title as ‘To what extent is a cult different from a religion?’

Overall, doing an EPQ has been an incredible experience. Taking a title and a few vague ideas and spinning it into a 5000-word dissertation has been very rewarding. I’ve read books, watched documentaries, interviewed people and found research papers that I would have otherwise never read.

I also found out obscure facts: for example, did you know that people are more likely to be religious if their mother is religious, over their father? And if their parents are of differing religions, children will normally follow their mother’s religion? Finding out small things like that (that I wouldn’t have otherwise discovered) made my whole project really worthwhile to me. My personal favourite part of my project was finally reading Tara Westover’s amazing book, Educated, which not only taught me a lot about religious extremism in the west, but also taught me a lot about the importance of (unsurprisingly, hence the title) education.

I’ve loved doing my EPQ: whilst challenging at times, it forced me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to focus on what really interests me. I’d absolutely recommend EPQs as an experience for any future 6.1s.