A Level Design & Technology

A Level Classwork

Design and Technology – Product Design (Resistant Materials pathway)

Design and Technology – Product Design (Graphics pathway)

Design and Technology – Design Engineering (similar to the old Systems and Control qualification)

Coursework is now 50% of the qualification, and 50% examination, reflecting an increased focus on examined content but still enabling students to design, make and evaluate creative products.

Math’s and science content is included within all courses.


Product DesignResistant Materials Pathway Design & Make coursework activity – 50% Written Examination – 50%
Product DesignGraphics Pathway Design & Make coursework activity – 50% Written Examination – 50%
Design Engineering Design & Make coursework activity – 50% Written Examination – 50%

All three Design and Technology courses listed above consist of a common core of study concerned with product design and analysis, plus a substantial amount of time spent studying their chosen specialist area in which they produce a coursework project in the final year. The format of these projects is outlined below, as are various examples of projects for each of the three areas. The courses are student-centered with the student very much in-charge of his/her learning. Students will have to be self-motivated and able to work well collaboratively, as well as independently. It is helpful, but not essential, to have followed a Design subject at GCSE, with the exception of Design Engineering where previous experience is usually expected.

The school is regularly commended nationally for the high levels it achieves with both the practical and design folder elements of these courses.

Students will learn how to apply knowledge and understanding of a wide range of materials; including modern and smart materials, and processes used in product design and manufacture.

They will learn how to develop an understanding of contemporary industrial and commercial practices applied to designing and manufacturing products, and to appreciate the risks involved.

Students will be taught a good working knowledge of health and safety procedures and relevant legislation.

Students will be taught the importance of key historic movements and the impact key figures have on modern design thinking and how designers from the past provide inspiration for present and future designing.

It is increasingly important that students develop an awareness of wider issues in design and technology, that design and technological activities can have a profound impact on the environment and on society and that these, together with sustainability, are key features of design and manufacturing practice.

Mathematical and scientific principles are an important part of designing and developing products and students will be expected to apply these principles when considering the designs of others.


Design and Technology ~ Product Design: with a graphics pathway ~

Project work can be made full size or modelled to an appropriate scale. For instance, an adventure playground or a loft conversion as seen here, could be designed for a particular client and then modelled in specific materials and to an appropriate scale; typically, the type of models an architect may produce. The course teaches the use of ‘Adobe InDesign 5.5’, ‘Photoshop’ and Solid Edge software, and students use these software packages extensively in the creation of their design folder.


Design and Technology ~ Product Design: with a Resistant Materials pathway ~

Students gain much satisfaction and a real sense of achievement from this area. They identify a need and then make a fully working prototype utilising a range of appropriate materials within the same project. An example of this type of project is the ‘PortaBar’ pictured left, which uses aluminum, steel, nylon, ABS and foam.  Victoria, who came to us with very little D+T experience, designed and made a portable lightweight ‘ballet bar’. Students gain first-hand experience of a variety of materials and skills from welding to casting, screw cutting to CAM work. There are many more examples of projects to view on the website.

The course teaches the use of ‘Adobe InDesign 5.5’, ‘Photoshop’ and ‘CAD software to produce the design folder, which must accompany their practical work.


Design and Technology ~ Design Engineering. ~ is focused towards engineered and electronic products and systems; the analysis of these in respect of function, operation, components and materials, in order to understand their application and uses in engineered products/systems that have commercial viability.

The subject content of this component is focused towards electronics and engineered products and systems and their analysis in respect of:

  • materials and components, and their selection and uses in products/systems
  • wider issues affecting design decisions.
  • programmable micro controllers
  • mechanisms
  • pneumatics

It is essential that materials, components and systems are studied from the perspective of analysing modern engineered products. Learners should gain practical experience of using materials, components and systems and, where possible, the content which follows should be learned through applied practical activities, set within realistic design scenarios.

The aim of the component is to give learners a framework for analysing existing products/systems that enables them to make considered selections of appropriate materials, components, systems and manufacturing processes when designing. Students will design and make a prototype as part of the coursework module, using a range of mechanisms, electronics or computer control to investigate an area within engineering they find interesting.

Learners are also required to demonstrate their mathematical and scientific knowledge and skills in the exam that are applied to design and technology practice. The level of mathematical and scientific knowledge within this qualification should be equivalent to higher tier GCSE (9–1) learning.

For learners in Design Engineering, there is an additional 10% mathematical requirement than the other endorsed titles. This extra 10% covers the specific mathematical skills associated with scientific formulae.

Links to other subjects

All 3 Design and Technology areas have strong links with Physics, Math’s, Art and General Studies, utilising the skills learnt in these four subject areas in everyday design projects. However, D&T is in fact suitable for any student with a keen interest, regardless of other subjects being studied, and students often come from a wide variety of subject backgrounds and expertise.

Links to HE courses and careers

It is one of the very few subject areas that bridges the gap between Science and Arts subjects and, as such, this allows students greater flexibility of choice when entering higher education or the job market. Students having taken D&T at A level have in the past moved on to careers such as architect, civil engineer, mechanical engineer, software engineer, aeronautical engineer, marine engineer, control systems engineer, product designer, airline pilot, armed forces officers, teaching, the police force, and many more fulfilling professions.

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