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History Extended Essay - Islam in Spain - Help needed

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So I'm getting into the nitty gritty bit of IB - all the IAs are due in the next two weeks or so - and I haven't done much yet. I just started and completed my TOK Essay, Spanish HL IA, and History HL IA in the last two days so now I'm starting on the EE and the English IA. I haven't firmly decided on a topic yet but I was thinking something along the lines of "to what extent did Islamic influences on Spain lead to the superiority of the Spanish Empire in the 16th century?" Is this a good topic to go with? Or will it be too difficult to find primary sources? Or do we even need primary sources for the history EE? Also, what is the format for the History EE? Is it like the IA? Or do we have more freedom? I've looked at various examples but they're all drastically different. I haven't received any advice from my school on how to go about doing this - IB is kinda inefficient, poorly-run, confusing and messy here - so I have no idea what I'm doing at any given time. Any advice whatsoever would be greatly appreciated, thank you. 

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As a Spanish I would like to advice you that your topic is not very extend, Spain took barely some words and monuments from muslim,and it would be a poor topic. I can recommend you instead to take a topic about the Catholic kings,the ones who expulsed the muslims out of Spain, in my opinion I found it more interesting and extended. Good luck!

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Yes, an EE in history essentially is like a longer IA albeit there are a few differences, but the underlying idea stays the same. There's no decreed sections in the EE, and also OPVL (while still important) naturally seems to take less precedence in the EE. 

A few things to consider about your topic: Can you read Spanish or Arabic? If the answer is no, then that is something to consider. I don't know about the quantity of documents that fall in the desired time period, are easily available, deal with Spanish-Moorish relations, and have been translated to English but it's something you'd want to know about before embarking on this particular topic. You have such a broad period of time currently that I don't doubt you'll find lots of documents; it's just that the really, really good ones that perfectly prove your thesis might not be available or translated. Which, I might add, is not a complete deal breaker – I wasn't able to gain access to certain documents that I really wanted for my EE and I still turned out fine. Thus, you may have to rely more on secondary sources with this – You'll certainly want to start your preliminary reading with secondary sources; preferably finding a source that argues for Moorish influence as being a prominent factor in Spain's ascendance and another one which doesn't attribute much of Spain's success to Moorish influence (If you find more than two; even better). You juxtapose these two examples of historiography and the launch your investigation integrating primary sources to judge the veracity of secondary sources. Once you read the bibliography for these sources you'll hopefully identify primary sources worth tracking down and using in the essay. This is a pretty typical history EE which analyzes two historiographical viewpoints and then uses primary sources and accepts one historiographical as "correct". Most history EE's have a balance of both primary and secondary sources; some have more secondary than primary and vice versa; it depends on what you're doing and examiners don't have a preferance as long as you maintain focused analysis throughout.

 In my personal opinion – and I stress this is just my opinion – any historical investigation before the 19th century has additional difficulties that aren't present in investigations of more recent times. Lack of translations, ease of access, etc. all seem to conspire against the essay writer. That's not to say you shouldn't do it, but it's something to be aware of. I'd love to hear someone who has actually written an EE on a topic before the 19th century because I did mine on something in the 1930's so I'm certainly not authoritative on the subject.

Lastly, your coordinator should have shared the IB EE criteria with you guys which has the criteria for all subject areas, including, of course, history. In this they talk about what I just said about primary vs. secondary sources and lots of additional stuff along with the rubric that history examiners use.

 

Edited by Nomenclature
Just realized OP needed this a while ago. Well, my advice still holds for all you guys who are just starting to explore ideas for the EE

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