A-Level Design & Technology: Product Design
This creative and thought-provoking qualification gives students the practical skills, theoretical knowledge and confidence to succeed in a number of careers. Especially those in the creative industries. They will investigate historical, social, cultural, environmental and economic influences on design and technology, whilst enjoying opportunities to put their learning in to practice by producing prototypes of their choice. Students will gain a real understanding of what it means to be a designer, alongside the knowledge and skills sought by higher education and employers.
All A-level specifications in design and technology must require students to demonstrate their application of knowledge, understanding and skills of maths and science in both theoretical and practical ways. Design and Technology uses maths and science to support decisions made in the process of designing and making.
Throughout the two years students will build and develop their knowledge and skills while preparing a portfolio of work.
Students must undertake a small-scale design and make task and produce a final prototype based on a context and design brief developed by the student. This piece is worth 50% of their final grade and is a substantial design and make project. Students will be assessed on how they can identify, investigate and outline design possibilities to address needs and wants of a client or user. Students will also need to design and make prototypes that are fit for purpose. Further to this they will be assessed on how they can effectively analyse and evaluate their final product.
They will also need to undertake two written exams in their second year. The first paper focuses on technical principles such as materials and their applications, enhancements and properties including: timbers, polymers, metals, textiles, paper and boards and modern materials. It is a mixture of short and extended responses and is worth 30% of their final grade. The second exam paper consists on the student’s ability to analyse products and their knowledge in commercial manufacture. This includes design for manufacturing, maintenance, repair and disposal. Again, this is a mixture of short and extended response questions.
- AQA Design and Technology: Product Design (3D Design) – Nelson Thornes
- Design for the 21st Century (Icons Series) – Charlotte Fiell and Peter Fiell
- The Eco-Design Handbook – Alastair Fuad-Luke
- The Design Museum – https://designmuseum.org/
- Dexigner – https://www.dexigner.com/
- Design Week – https://www.designweek.co.uk/
Students can progress to higher education in a variety of degree level courses. A distinct advantage for courses such as Product Design and Management, Design, Enterprise and Innovation, Mechanical with Automotive Engineering (with or without placement), Creative Media Production, Fashion Design and Game Design and Production. This is a very versatile subject and it fits well within the creative and engineering industry. Career prospects from this course include automotive engineer, graphic designer, product manager, production designer, theatre/television/film, clothing/textile technologist, to name a few. It is possible to take a master’s degree in industrial or product design if the student wished to continue in further education.
Students should have a strong interest in designing, modelling, making and evaluating products or systems and an interest in the processes and products of Design and Technological activity. It is preferable that the student has undertaken a Design and Technology course at GCSE, this will set the foundation for this course. Studying Product Design would be highly beneficial to those considering careers in engineering and wider creative industries.