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Product Design

GCSE Product Design Course Outline:

Time Allocation – 2 hours per week

Examination board – AQA

Product Design

This course includes elements of resistant materials (metal, wood and plastic), graphic design (paper, card, modelling), and electronic and mechanical systems (electronic components and systems & control).

For the controlled assessments students will specialise in a material area of their choice, usually a combination of wood and metal.

Course Content:

During this course students will have the opportunity to work with many materials and manufacturing techniques as they develop a range of practical design skills. They also develop their ICT skills, in particular, making use of computer-aided design and manufacture (CAD and CAM). Students will learn how to develop and apply design skills, including generating design proposals. During manufacture of a prototype, they learn how to test, evaluate and market it too. Students will study iconic products, trendsetters, design eras and design movements as well as the use of new technologies and materials.

Year 9

Garden study / Bird Feeder

Pupils begin with an 8-week project to develop a solid understanding of specialist principles like anthropometrics and inclusive design. This is followed by a mini design-and-make challenge to build their own bird feeder.


Pupils practise a range of technical making skills with a focus on planning and quality control. They also study environmental issues and material properties related to timbers.

Sketching Techniques and CAD

A 6-week project aimed at deepening pupils’ understanding and skills in how to present sketches, physical models and CAD models.

Mechanical toy

A project with a focus on developing pupils’ problem-solving skills and understanding of mechanisms.


Pupils go through an iterative design process to design, model and manufacture a working speaker. This build pupils’ independence and creativity as they are less restricted in their material choices.

Year 10

Pewter Casting

Pupils study design movement, the theory of metals extraction and the working properties of metals. The project culminates in an art deco style jewellery piece.


Pupils deepen their understanding of polymers and learn about the environmental and ethical issues associated with the use of plastics. They also practise their CAD/CAM skills and go on to design and manufacture their own chocolate pouring mould.

Mock non-exam assessment

As a final project before their GCSE assessment begins, pupils conduct their own design-and-make challenge to create a clock for a target user of their choice. In the process they undertake many of the research and evaluation tasks required in their GCSE coursework.

Year 11

The first half of year 11 is mainly dedicated to completing the non-exam assessment: a 35-hour design-and-make challenge. This is interspersed with occasional theory lessons preparing them for their mock and end-of-year exams. From around March onwards the sole focus is dedicated to revising and preparing pupils for their exam.

 Formative Assessment:

During the controlled assessment phase students are required to work independently on their digital portfolios each week, and submit work periodically. Although student work will be marked, examination rules state that diagnostic feedback is not allowed. To support pupils they are required to make notes in an independent support booklet. Homework is set weekly and consist of independent study tasks relating to the theme of their non-exam assessment.

Where homework tasks relate to exam preparation, work will be marked according to the school protocol. In addition, pupils will often be given exam style questions with marks schemes so they can self-assess their work.

Summative Assessment:

The course is split into two components: a non-exam assessment (NEA) over 35 hours (50%), and a 2-hour written paper (50%). The NEA allows students to have an open and creative approach to respond to a design need. Students are assessed on their ability to investigate and research a problem, design and model solutions, manufacture a working prototype, and evaluate their progress throughout. The exam is an overall assessment of the pupils’ theoretical understanding over the 3 years on core, technical and specialist principles.

Why you should consider studying product design GCSE:

Design and technology is far more than just practical making. This is a multidisciplinary course in which pupils study a varied range of interesting topics, from the history of design, to the ethics of modern manufacturing. It is a rigorous, inspiring course which introduces pupils to the basic principles of designing successful products, developing their problem-solving skills and boosting their creativity. It involves experimentation, innovation and flair, and provides a great insight into the technological world around us.

 What skills profile a GCSE product design student should have:

Do you have flair and imagination? This GCSE will encourage you to explore, develop, experience and express your ideas.  "If you think you have sufficient desire, motivation and ability you should give it a try. And if you trust in your ability to regularly come up with strong ideas and are willing to make mistakes and learn from them, there is a good chance that you will find success.”

 What opportunities a GCSE in product design will lead to:

A GCSE in design and technology naturally leads to A-Level product design, which is a widely accepted entrance qualification for a number of courses in higher education. There is a wide range of career opportunities in areas such as engineering, product design, graphic design, industrial manufacturing, architecture and interior design.

For more information, contact Mr. Rogers – Curriculum Area Leader for Design & Technology