Extended Investigation

Why Undertake the Extended Investigation?

The VCE Extended Investigation develops students’ understanding of what constitutes a good research question. They develop an ethical, robust, disciplined and rational approach to gathering,
interpreting and evaluating evidence in order to answer the research question.

In this study, students consider how research questions are developed and refined to enable the
researcher to address the key issues proposed by the research within the limits that time and
resources impose. Students conduct a review of relevant literature, develop research project
management knowledge and skills, and develop ways of effectively presenting and communicating
research findings.

Students are introduced to a broad range of research methods and explore their comparative
suitability for the investigation of particular questions.

The skills that students develop in this study are transferable to any higher education course or
vocational education and training program.


The study is comprised of a Units 3 and 4 sequence.

There is no Unit 1 and 2 in this subject.

Unit 3: Designing an Extended Investigation

Unit 4: Presenting an Extended Investigation

In this unit students develop skills in question construction and design, explore the nature and
purpose of research and various research methodologies, critically review research literature and
identify a specific research question. Students undertake initial research and document their
progress in their Extended Investigation Journal. They use their Journal to record the progressive
refinement of a selected area of interest and the distillation of an individual research question.

The research question is formally lodged with the VCAA during Term 1 on a date published annually.

Underpinning the student’s preparatory work for their investigation is the development and
application of critical thinking skills. While the critical thinking component of this study is
located in Area of Study 3, it is assumed and expected that students will develop and utilise these
skills throughout Unit 3 in the context of developing their
individual investigation and continue to exercise them in Unit 4.

Area of study 1

Designing a research question

Outcome 1

On completion of this unit the student should be able to design and justify a research question.

Area of study 2

Planning and commencing the investigation

Outcome 2

On completion of this unit the student should be able to write a research plan, begin research and
present an oral report to an educated non-specialist audience that explains the investigation and
justifies the selected research

Area of study 3

Critical thinking

Outcome 3

On completion of this unit the student should be able to develop and apply the skills of critical thinking.

Unit 4: Presenting an Extended Investigation

This unit is comprised of two parts that together constitute the student’s completion of their
investigation. The results of the investigation are presented in a final written report and in an
oral presentation incorporating a defence to an educated non-specialist audience.

While undertaking Unit 4, students are supported and monitored to maintain the dimensions and scope of their investigation and to meet the milestones established in Unit 3. The Extended Investigation Journal is used to record the progress of their investigation and the assistance they receive from supervising teachers,
mentors and others.

Area of study 1

Presenting the final research report

Outcome 1

In this area of study students complete their investigation and write the final report that
provides their response to the research question. They analyse and evaluate argument and evidence used in their investigation.

Area of study 2

Defending research findings

Outcome 2

On completion of this unit the student should be able to explain the investigation, critically
evaluate their research process, and defend research findings in a presentation to an educated non-specialist audience.


Assessment criteria and performance descriptors for Unit 3 and assessment criteria for Unit 4

Unit 3

The assessment tasks for Outcome 1 and Outcome 2 in Unit 3 will be assessed using the following criteria.

Performance descriptors elaborating on the criteria for each outcome are provided and will be used by teachers to award marks for School-based Coursework in Unit 3.

Outcome 3 in Unit 3 will be externally assessed by a Critical Thinking Test.

Unit 4

Both Outcome 1 and Outcome 2 in Unit 4 will be externally assessed.

Percentage contributions to the study score in VCE Extended Investigation are as follows:

Unit 3 Course Work:    30%

Critical Thinking Test; 10%

Research Report:           40%

Oral Defense:                20%