Year 12 Supercurricular Project Guide

The x behind the y


  • To research a topic of interest related to a subject you might consider studying at university;
  • To develop university-style independent research skills;
  • To engage in a super-curricular project which could be useful to draw upon in your UCAS Personal Statement.

Project Overview

Your objective is to research and produce a 5-minute video essay on a topic of your interest.

The topic is up to you, but the title should be of the form 'The x behind the y' where x and y are replaced with what you are going to investigate. 

Choosing your topic and title

The Y: Something that interests you – e.g. criminal trials, renewable energy, clickbait, space travel, vaccine development, NFTs, song lyrics, medical technology, cryptocurrency

The X: Something that explains or tells us more about the Y – e.g. methodology, history, inequality, process, unsung hero, controversy, formula


  • The history behind masculinity
  • The literary influences behind song lyrics
  • The social inequalities behind criminal trial outcomes
  • The economics behind renewable energy
  • The biology behind carnivorous plants
  • The maths behind winning monopoly
  • The process behind developing a vaccine
  • The potential behind CRISPR

Advice for choosing

  1. Don’t be too broad: try to think of specific things that interest you
  2. Choose a topic you are not already studying at school
  3. Try to make sure it can be connected to the subjects or courses you might be interested in studying at university
  4. Pick something you will enjoy learning and talking about!

Doing the research

The majority of your time should be spent researching your chosen topic.

You can do this in lots of different ways:

  • Read books (try your local library!)
  • Read articles online (but make sure they’re at a level you can understand)
  • Watch TED talks on YouTube, or other videos. Make sure these are produced by reputable channels, always check your sources!
  • Listen to podcasts
  • Watch documentaries
  • Investigate online courses (e.g. MOOC)

Keep notes of your research, including where you got each piece of information from. That way you can refer to the original source later on.

Creating your video

You can explain your X behind the Y in whatever way works for their chosen topic. For example, you might want to use a PowerPoint, pictures, B roll clips, a whiteboard, or even just speak to the camera.

Plan out what you want to say and what you want to show in the video, before you start creating it. You may find it helpful to write yourself a script, either to say to the camera or to record a voiceover.

There are various free video editing apps you can use. If you are an Apple user, try iMovie. If you’re a Windows user, try the Windows video editor, or download a free one such as OpenShot or DaVinci Resolve.

You could also use a video editing app on your phone, using CapCut or VN Video Editor.

The video must be no longer than 5 minutes in length and you will be penalised if you go over this limit.

Submitting the project

Upload the video to YouTube and make it “unlisted” or generate a link using Use the form below to submit your project before your schools' deadline.

Oxford students will mark your video essay using certain criteria, including but not limited to:

  • Thoroughness of research
  • Inventiveness of topic
  • Clarity of explanation


All participants will receive feedback about their video and a certificate.

There will be a cash prize/voucher given for the best submission per school.