The Leys

Independent Research Project

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This was established in 2013 and is designed to complement and enhance academic subjects in the Sixth Form.

A project can be undertaken on topic in which the pupil is genuinely interested, and can be done in a range of ways: essay, investigative, performance, creative. It develops skills candidates will require in Higher Education and promotes independent learning, planning, research, analysis and evaluation.

Typically, around a dozen Sixth Formers will undertake and complete a Research Project and each one is allocated a supervisor who oversees the project and advises on progress. Supervisors are drawn from staff at The Leys and academics and other experts/enthusiasts from outside school. Some are graduate students from the University of Cambridge. Pupils receive tuition in research and referencing skills in school and are encouraged to use the wide range of resources at their disposal. Independent markers and adjudicators are asked to judge the entries and the best project receives a prize, awarded on Speech Day.


Over the last two years, these projects serve as examples:

  • An essay, “In periods of emergency does the US government ignore the freedoms of the 1787 Constitution?” looked at the way the government behaved at the height of the McCarthy era through to modern controversies such as Wikileaks and Edward Snowden’s disclosures.
  • “The Perfect Poison: Disruption of Neurotransmission” was a very high quality paper which adopted sound methodological principles, presented clear and accurate scientific reasoning and data analysis and came to clear and well-argued conclusions.
  • An analysis of the 19th Century Durand Line and the ways in which it has shaped the political and social development of Afghanistan was a notable piece of work in that it was genuinely cross curricular with historical, geographical and political insights.
  • A Brief Introduction to Vector Calculus was anything but brief and the examiner described it as work of a very high calibre, praising the clarity of presentation and the argument, both mathematical and verbal. He commented particularly how refreshing it was to read decent mathematics presented within a narrative framework which made it clear what was being argued and proved.
  • The use of Stem Cells as a potential cure for Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus was a presentation rich in detail, both in content and methodology. A wealth of sources was cited and these sources were analysed at a very high level for this educational stage. There was a tantalising sense that we were only glimpsing the tip of the iceberg of what could have been added to this project.

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