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, a robust, a disciplined and a rational approach to gathering, interpreting and evaluating evidence in order to answer the research question.

In this study, the student considers 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 and develop research project management knowledge and skills and 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.

Unit 3: Designing an Extended Investigation

Unit 4: Presenting an Extended Investigation

Unit 3: Designing an Extended Investigation

In this unit students develop skills in question construction and design, explore the nature and purpose of research, and identify a specific research question. Students use their Extended Investigation Journal to record the progressive refinement of a selected area of interest distilled into an individual research question.

The research question is formally lodged with the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority 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 these skills throughout Unit 3 in the context of their individual investigation. Students undertake initial research and document their progress in their Extended Investigation Journal.

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 a non-specialist audience that explains the investigation and justifies the selected research methods.

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 Extended Investigation. The results of the Extended Investigation are presented in a final written report and in an oral presentation to a non-specialist panel.

The final written report is submitted and includes the student’s evaluation of the research methods and findings, and provides their response to the research question.

Students also present their investigation as an oral presentation to a non-specialist panel and defend their findings, responding to questions and challenges from the panel.

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, academic mentors and others.

Area of study 1

Presenting the final research report

Outcome 1

On completion of this unit the student should be able to complete a written report for a non-specialist audience that presents and evaluates the results of the extended investigation.

Area of study 2

Defending research findings

Outcome 2

On completion of this unit the student should be able to explain the investigation and defend their research findings in a presentation to a 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.