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GCSE Design and Technology

If you enjoy creating things and problem-solving, GCSE Design and Technology at St Edmund’s could be the course for you!

The design process constantly evolves and requires logical, systematic thinking. This GCSE course develops the skills required to produce innovative, creative and practical items. It covers:

  • Designing creative products that are commercially viable
  • Generating, developing, planning and communicating design ideas
  • Working safely with equipment, components and materials to produce quality products
  • Applying systems and control, CAD/CAM, digital media and new technologies.

This GCSE course also develops a breadth of wider abilities, including:

  • Undertaking independent learning.
  • Making considered decisions when designing.
  • Producing  sustainable, durable products.
  • Applying knowledge and skills to real-life contexts.
  • Exploring how aesthetic, technical, economic, environmental, ethical and social issues interact when designing and making.
  • Analysing existing products to create practical solutions that address needs, wants and opportunities.
  • Developing decision-making skills, independently and as part of a team.
  • Understanding how design reflects and influences different cultures and societies.
  • Expanding creativity and critical analysis by connecting the principles of design, existing solutions and technological knowledge.

GCSE Design and Technology is taught through a series of practical projects. Past projects include short problem-solving exercises, drawing exercises and CAD/CAM practice.

This course is well-suited to creative, well organised students, who are able to meet deadlines. It appeals to those who enjoy practical activities and solving problems, and have an interest in how existing products are designed and made.

Head of Department Miss A M Healy BA (Luton)
Specification AQA GCSE 8552  (9-1)



Course structure

Subject content

Core technical principles

In order to make effective design choices students will need a breadth of core technical knowledge and understanding that consists of:

    • new and emerging technologies
    • energy generation and storage
    • developments in new materials
    • systems approach to designing
    • mechanical devices
    • materials and their working properties

Specialist technical principles

In addition to the core technical principles, all students should develop an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the following specialist technical principles:

    • selection of materials or components
    • forces and stresses
    • ecological and social footprint
    • sources and origins
    • using and working with materials
    • stock forms, types and sizes
    • scales of production
    • specialist techniques and processes
    • surface treatments and finishes.

Designing and making principles

Students should know and understand that all design and technology activities take place within a wide range of contexts.

They should also understand how the prototypes they develop must satisfy wants or needs and be fit for their intended use. For example, the home, school, work or leisure. They will need to demonstrate and apply knowledge and understanding of designing and making principles in relation to the following areas:

    • investigation, primary and secondary data
    • environmental, social and economic challenge
    • the work of others
    • design strategies
    • communication of design ideas
    • prototype development
    • selection of materials and components
    • tolerances
    • material management
    • specialist tools and equipment
    • specialist techniques and processes


Coursework is set to a theme given by the examining board and completed under supervision. This work is internally assessed and externally moderated (50% of the final mark).

This element should be a reflection of 40 hours school-based work and should include evidence of a design folio and a manufactured product.

The controlled assessment project is set within a timed period and set to a theme by the Examination Board; we give you guidance as to what might be a suitable project. Past students have designed and made children’s toys, storage for cramped rooms, picnic equipment, aids for the disabled, furniture and items of jewellery.

Written examination (2 hours) – 50% of the final mark

All questions are compulsory and the answers are marked externally.

The examination tests ability to understand the design process. It assesses knowledge of the theory and techniques and an understanding of making, based on a range of materials.


Past students have designed and made children’s toys, storage for cramped rooms, picnic equipment, aids for the disabled, furniture and items of jewellery.

Future paths

Design and Technology is an excellent choice if you wish to consider a career in architecture, computer aided design, product design, environmental design, furniture design, industrial design or mechanical and structural engineering.