High Quality of Academic Endeavour Evidenced at IRP Final

High Quality of Academic Endeavour Evidenced at IRP Final

The Senior Independent Research Project final is undoubtedly one of the academic highlights of the year at Caterham, and this year was no exception. Over 40 Upper Sixth pupils entered the competition, and with the introduction of the EPQ, which many of our students have undertaken, the quality of research was at an all-time high. Each project answered a unique question, which our pupils were curious to discover the answer to, and it was incredibly challenging to select our finalists. Since the quality of academic endeavour was so strong, we added a seventh place to the final and selected fourteen submissions as highly commended.

For the finals evening we were incredibly fortunate to be joined by our two esteemed judges. Mr James Burns and Mr Paul Dixon. James is currently Managing Director of Crescent Capital focusing on European credit where he has worked for the last 10 years. Prior to this he spent 16 years working for several investment banks in London focusing on Leveraged Finance. He received his MA in History from Cambridge University. Paul, who after graduating in Economics from Cambridge in 1987, has worked for thirty years in Investment Banking and Asset Management. More recently, in 2019 he went back to University (to LSE) to complete a Masters in the Philosophy of the Social Sciences; and in 2021 he gave a series of guest lectures at Caterham School. Paul is currently studying for an MA in the Philosophy of AI at Northeastern University, London. The judges read all seven written papers in advance of the evening and scored each one according to the quality of research and the clarity of the ideas expressed. These scores were then added to their judgement, on the strength of their presentations and their ability to answer challenging questions from the audience and the judges.

Ria opened the evening with a discussion of her comparative study of Charles Dickens and Zadie Smith, questioning who exposes social injustice more effectively and how they both achieve this? Ollie then examined the views of philosophers on the question of whether art can be objectively beautiful, and Genevieve engaged us with her explanation as to how X-ray crystallography can be used to identify a crystal. Before the break, James presented his fashion concept collection, the first in the history of Caterham IRP. His models showcased the garments he designed and made, as he explained how the fall of the Romanovs inspired his pieces. After the break we delved into Computer Science as Xavier considered the impact that changing the social and cognitive parameters has on Particle Swarm Optimisation algorithms. Next, Amali presented her interdisciplinary research from Philosophy and Psychology asked the audience to consider the psychological consequences of guilt and whether they can be justified by their benefits? Finally, Francesco faced with two experts in investment banking, presented his findings as to whether moral hazard was a bigger cause of the fall of Lehman Brothers in 2008 than loose monetary policy. He presentation truly engaged, educated and challenged the audience who then cast their vote for the best presentation on the night as the judges deliberated.

Special thanks to Mrs Becky Hunter and Dr Marc Scott our academic enrichment tutors who posed many challenging questions to our finalists and aided their judges in their task of selecting the winners.

The judges were generous in their feedback highlighting the strengths of each presentation and awarded joint 3rd place to James and Xavier, 2nd place to Ollie and 1st place to Amali. The judges felt that Amali’s submission would not have been out of place in a University dissertation and were similarly impressed by her presentation and in particular by her responses to the questions posed on the night. Many congratulations to all of our finalists and to our winners in particular.

Many congratulations to all of our seven fabulous finalists and to our winners in particular.


1st Amali, 2nd Ollie, 3rd, James & Xavier

Audience Vote: James

Ria, Genevieve, Francesco

Highly Commended:

Liban, Olivia, Dante, Jack, Hailey, Annie, Lisa, Marcus, Samuel, Finn, Kiyan, Luca, Sophia, Aaron

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