1.2 Interdisciplinary essays

1.2.3 World studies

A world studies extended essays (WSEE) is based on two or more IBDP subjects and explores a local manifestation of a global issue. Like all essays, WSEEs are expected to be analytical and critical rather than descriptive and reductive. A WSEE must be registered under one of the following areas of study:

  • conflict, peace and security
  • culture, language and identity
  • environmental and/or economic sustainability
  • equality and inequality
  • health and development
  • science, technology and society. 

While the WSEE is often used as as way to circumnavigate the 5-year rule for economics and the 10-year rule for History, be careful when applying concepts from history to events that are younger than 10 years old or exploring Economics and phenomena that are older than 5 years old. If you are not taking Global Politics as a subject, be careful when using it as a WSEE subject.

Sample research questions: 

  1. How has the arrival of 200 Syrian refugees in Zaandam impacted the local economy, and what lessons could other countries learn from this developing situation?
    • IBDP Subjects: Economics, Global Politics
    • WSEE subject area: conflict, pease and security

  2. Why has there never been a 'Kurdistan' and could it ever become a possibility? 
    • IBDP Subjects: History, Global Politics
    • WSEE subject area: conflict, pease and security

  3. Is there a causal relationship between chlorophyll-a concentrations and Acanthaster planci densities in populated areas of Australia? 
    • IBDP Subjects: ESS, Biology
    • WSEE: environmental and/or economic sustainability

  4. To what degree is The Quiet American an accurate representation of America's involvement in Indochina?  
    • IBDP Subjects: Literature, History
    • WSEE: Culture, language and identity
Figure 1.2.3a - Education for a better world
Keep this IB motto in mind when writing a WSEE.


  • Notice that good WSEE research questions have a 'local' and 'global' element.
  • Notice that question 3 could be submitted as an ESS essay as well. 
  • Group 3 subjects are popular as WSEEs subjects. Many involve Global Politics, a subject that few students actually take.