Frequently Asked Questions

Does a centre have to seek approval from SQA to deliver the Scottish Baccalaureates?

Yes, every centre should complete an IP1 approval form, which can be found in the Approval and Quality Assurance section of the Baccalaureate pages on SQA's website. A separate IP1 should be completed for each of the Scottish Baccalaureate awards and sent to SQA by the September deadline. Approval only has to be sought once, not on an annual basis.

How many UCAS tariff points are allocated to the Baccalaureate?

The Interdisciplinary Project Unit has been allocated UCAS tariff points equal to half of an Advanced Higher - this means 65 points for an A pass, 55 for a B and 45 for a C. This is in addition to the UCAS points allocated to the other three components.

Can Nuffield funded projects and Advanced Higher investigations be used for the Interdisciplinary Project?

No. The Interdisciplinary Project is process based and focuses on the skills the candidate is required to develop/strengthen throughout the five stages of the project. It requires the candidate to take ownership of the project making choices on the project theme (based either on personal or career interest), the research methods, the resources (both physical and human), the presentation methods and appropriate audience(s). The project is interdisciplinary and requires the candidate to apply subject knowledge to the wider world and to work as independently as possible. For these reasons Nuffield (or similar) funded projects or an Advanced Higher investigation do not fulfil the requirements of the Interdisciplinary Project. However, if a candidate becomes enthused by the theme of either a Nuffield type project or an investigation it may be possible for s/he to develop this theme further to meet the criteria of the Interdisciplinary Project and to use some of the research findings from this other work.

What are the broad contexts which the Interdisciplinary Project must cover?

An Interdisciplinary Project should allow the candidate to make connections between their subject knowledge and the wider world. This can be achieved with a project proposal which has relevance to one or more of the following broad contexts:

  • employability
  • enterprise
  • citizenship
  • sustainable development
  • economic development.

For a definition of each of the broad contexts see Section 4 of the Assessment Support Packs.

Are group projects allowed?

Candidates may wish to undertake the Interdisciplinary Project as part of a group. However, each individual candidate must clearly define his or her roles and responsibilities and must demonstrate an appropriate level of participation in all five stages of the project. In order to pass the Unit each individual candidate must complete all five pieces of mandatory evidence and achieve at least the evidence criteria for a Grade C. Each candidate is required to carry out a personal skills analysis at the proposal stage of the project and indicate how the proposed project will allow these skills to be developed/strengthened. At the self-evaluation stage of the project the candidate will go back to this skills analysis, will consider his/her reflective diary along with the project evaluation and feedback received throughout the project in order to evaluate his/her own skills development. Further information on group projects can be found in the Assessment Support Pack.

How do I get started?

There is a wealth of information there to support you on the Baccalaureate pages of SQA's website:

  • Start with the Video Case Studies to hear about the experience of other centres, teaching staff and candidates. There are also written case studies which you will find interesting.
  • Familiarise yourself with the Baccalaureate awards by looking at the Unit Specification, the Arrangements Document and the Assessment Support Pack (Section 10 contains the candidate and assessor templates)
  • You can find examples of project work undertaken by past candidates along with External Verifier commentaries in the tab entitled: Assessment Exemplars.
  • There is an introductory presentation which teachers/lecturers can use as a starting point with their candidates and a Candidate Guide with helpful information on how to tackle the project from start to finish.
  • Other useful documents are the Proposal Audit Tool to help both teachers and candidates with the proposal stage of the project and the Reflective Diary Template to encourage candidates to write reflectively about their work on the project.

Do candidates have to make links outside their own centre?

One of the aims of the Baccalaureate is to give candidates a broader learning experience by encouraging cross sector collaboration or links with employers/organisations. Therefore, evidence that some kind of external link has been made is required. Some schools work in partnership with universities or colleges which gives candidates the opportunity to experience a different learning environment with access to expertise, resources and equipment. There is also some collaboration between schools which allows expertise to be shared and candidates to get together to exchange ideas. Many candidates make their own external links to obtain support for their project or carry out research. This can be done both face to face and with the use of technology.

How much help should be given by the teacher/lecturer?

A key aspect of the Interdisciplinary Project is independent working so candidates should be given a high level of autonomy and be positively encouraged to take ownership of the project. The teacher/lecturer should adopt the role of mentor/facilitator providing relevant feedback and asking constructive questions from the proposal stage onwards. Support or encouragement may be required to help a candidate progress through a particularly difficult aspect of the project. It is also true that some candidates may require more help from the teacher/lecturer than others. This would obviously be reflected in the grade awarded.

Can the proposal and plan be amended and resubmitted once the candidate has started the project?

The proposal and plan sections can be re-submitted following feedback from the Assessor. The assessor has a duty to ensure that the proposal and plan meet the criteria of an Interdisciplinary Project and also set out a viable and achievable project for the candidate before approving. As projects are unlikely always to go exactly to plan it is expected that planning will continue throughout the project and that plans will be amended, particularly in terms of timescales and resources. Assessor comments should refer to these changes and candidates would also be expected to reflect on this in the evaluation of project and self-evaluation.

Does the plan need to include a Gantt chart?

The plan must include a detailed timeline. The candidate may decide to use a Gantt chart, which is a project management tool but this is not mandatory. The criteria can be met by a candidate who clearly describes his/her timeline with reference to key milestones/deadlines. Where a Gantt chart or other diagram has been used this should be included in the evidence sent to SQA for external verification.

How much should the candidate write?

There is no easy answer to this question as it will vary according to the individual candidate and project. However, candidates should consider the assessment criteria to ensure that they have included all the minimum required evidence. The checklist contained in the Assessor Report and the prompts on the templates will help with this. Candidates should try to be succinct and avoid unnecessary repetition. They should try to include all the required information in the relevant sections of the templates but, as assessment of the project is holistic, Assessors and External Verifiers should also take into account evidence which is present in other sections of the candidate portfolio.

What help is available for the evaluation stages of the project?

The Evaluation and Self-evaluation can be demanding for candidates. They should be encouraged from the early stages of the project to write reflectively and thus avoid producing a descriptive log. A reflective diary/log/blog should be kept throughout the project as this will be invaluable for both the project evaluation and self evaluation. There is a reflective diary template on the Baccalaureate pages of SQA's website which is for guidance only but will help candidates to consider what went well, what went not so well, what could have been done differently, what the learning points were and the next steps. They should also record feedback received throughout the project which will help to inform their evaluations. When tackling the self-evaluation candidates should go back to the skills analysis which they carried out at the proposal stage, consider their reflective log along with feedback from others and evaluate how their work on the project has enabled them to develop/strengthen the relevant skills. Candidates should support their evaluation with concrete examples.

How many A Grade criteria need to be met in order to achieve a B?

Due to the individual nature of the Interdisciplinary Project there is no fixed rule on how many A Grade criteria must be met, and in what sections, in order to achieve a B. Grade criteria can be used to identify A and C grades but assessors should consider a project holistically when deciding if it achieves a B. There should, however, be evidence of some A grade criteria being met throughout the project as it would be unacceptable if the A grades were focused on one or two stages of the project only.

Are assessor comments mandatory?

Yes, assessor comments addressed to candidates are a key part of the learning and teaching process. They should not take the place of candidate evidence but should support or highlight areas of evidence contained within the narrative. In the templates, each of the five stages has space for Assessor feedback to candidates. There is also space in the Assessor Report for assessors to make further comment on their assessment decisions, for example to clarify why a particular criterion was/was not met. These comments are also extremely valuable for SQA's external verifiers as they provide additional information on the candidate's performance throughout the project and also on the grade awarded by the Assessor(s).

How do centres carry out internal quality assurance?

The Interdisciplinary Project is internally assessed and internally verified by centres. It is then externally verified by SQA. There is a detailed Centre Guide on Assessment and Quality Assurance which can be found in the Approval and Quality Assurance section of the Baccalaureate pages on the SQA website.

What evidence is required for external verification?

The Interdisciplinary Project is internally assessed and externally verified by SQA. The External Verifier needs to see the five pieces of mandatory candidate evidence (the proposal, plan, presentation, evaluation of project and self-evaluation) as well as the Assessor Report which includes the assessor checklist, assessor comments and the grade awarded. In the event of centres including additional evidence, such as project findings, these will not be looked at by the External Verifier.

Why do SQA not require to see the product/project findings?

The Interdisciplinary Project is not like Advanced Higher Investigations in that it is designed to assess the skills development over the course of the project. These cognitive and generic skills such as research skills, interpersonal skills, planning time and information management, independent learning, problem solving and critical thinking cannot be assessed using the final product/findings but require more reflective evidence recorded throughout the project.