Considering Design Technology GCSE or A level? Read our FAQ here

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Lemur14
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Are you considering taking any Design Technology course as a GCSE or A level option? Read below for more information to help educate your decision!

GCSE(9-1)
What skills are useful for design technology courses?
Design Technology courses use a multitude of skills from practical skills to logic, to written skills. Any of these skills are a useful prequisite, although they will also be developed throughout the course.

What is the workload like?
Due to the larger non exam assessment element in almost all design technology courses than most other GCSE courses, the workload during the course may be higher than most, however this usually results in a reduced workload during exam season as a larger percentage is already completed through your non exam assessment.

What sort of topics will be studied?
This varies significantly depending on if you're taking a specialised course, or a general course with a specialised element.
Topics that are very likely on any course to be studied include:
Materials and their properties/uses
Manufacturing-methods, advantages, disadvantages etc.
Energy/Power- types, best usage
Commonly used parts
Sustainability-environment, people, culture etc.
Industry as a whole
Modern Technologies

How will it be assessed?
Most of the design technology courses have around 40-50% non-exam assessment. This is where you will plan, make and write about a product to meet a brief set by the exam board.
The remaining 50-60% will be written assessment. On product design based courses it will be partly the core knowledge, and partly your specialism. For other courses, such as engineering courses it will be entirely based on this! You will be expected to answer many different types of questions from short answer questions, to product design based on a brief.

What is it useful for post-GCSE?
Naturally, these types of courses are good for progression into similar courses at A level. They also allow you to show that you have a variety of skills, since they require skills which few other GCSE courses will use.

A level (new specification)
What are common requirements for Design Technology Courses
Common requirements for A level include:
3/4 in GCSE Mathematics
3/4 in GCSE English Language
6 in Art/Design subject if taken
For electronics/engineering routes a higher maths grade is likely to be required, along with a 6/7 in physics.
Requirements are different depending on the school/college, so check with your chosen sixth form if you are unsure what the requirements are

How is A level different to GCSE?
A level will continue to develop any skills used in the equivalent GCSE course. You will learn about the topics in more depth, including new methods and usually more focus on the industry. In the non exam assessment you will be expected to work more independently to plan, design, make and evaluate your product.

What sort of topics will be studied?
Generally, you will study the same topics as at GCSE, but in more depth. However there are also some additional topics. This means you will usually study these topics, plus some specialist extras if applicable:
Materials, their uses and properties
Components
Manufacturing methods-where, why and how they are used
Energy/Power- types, best usage
Analysis of existing products
Sustainability-environment, people, culture etc.
Health and Safety
Industry as a whole
Design processes
Modern Technologies

What is the workload like?
Similar to GCSE, the workload to these type subjects are usually quite different to most other A levels. While you will probably commit the same time throughout the course, it will be much time consuming around the time of any non exam assessment you do rather than exams.

How will it be assessed?
Most courses are 50% non exam assessment and 50% exam.
Within the non exam assessment, you will be expected to make and document the plan, design, development, making and evaluation of a product which meets the brief the exam board provides.
For the exam, you will be expected to be able to apply your knowledge both from your theory lessons and from making products to answer short, extended and product design questions.

What is it useful for post-A Level?
This totally depends on which strand you take! If you take something like graphics, it can be used to go into graphic design, media, advertising or many other areas.
Similarly, if you take something like systems/electronics/engineering then it can be used to go into these types of areas.
Textiles can be used to go into anything fashion related such as costume design or many other areas.


If you have any more questions, you can ask in the thread below and we'll try and help
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h.i_773
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just dont do it
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Eliza1233
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(Original post by h.i_773)
just dont do it
Im thinking of taking it - it it not good?
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CoolCavy
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(Original post by Eliza1233)
Im thinking of taking it - it it not good?
Good is subjective, some people struggle with it and others really enjoy it as with any subject. I did product design at GCSE , Alevel and university, if you have any questions about what it's like am happy to answer them
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PetitePanda
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(Original post by CoolCavy)
Good is subjective, some people struggle with it and others really enjoy it as with any subject. I did product design at GCSE , Alevel and university, if you have any questions about what it's like am happy to answer them
PRSOM Defo agree. I struggled with it but personally loved it (GCSE level tho) but I have friends that didnt like it so I suggest researching what you do to see if its something you would like to do.
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Eliza1233
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(Original post by CoolCavy)
Good is subjective, some people struggle with it and others really enjoy it as with any subject. I did product design at GCSE , Alevel and university, if you have any questions about what it's like am happy to answer them
Ohh okay thank you! I really enjoy the subject, so I would like to take it for A-level, but I'm a lot better at the theory than the practical side of it - do you think this would be an issue? Or is the practical also mainly to do with the writing that goes with the product? (if that makes sense )
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Tomh0003
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(Original post by CoolCavy)
Good is subjective, some people struggle with it and others really enjoy it as with any subject. I did product design at GCSE , Alevel and university, if you have any questions about what it's like am happy to answer them
How much time did you put into it everyday? What grade did you get? Thanks
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CoolCavy
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(Original post by Eliza1233)
Ohh okay thank you! I really enjoy the subject, so I would like to take it for A-level, but I'm a lot better at the theory than the practical side of it - do you think this would be an issue? Or is the practical also mainly to do with the writing that goes with the product? (if that makes sense )
Hey (sorry for the late reply )
Honestly i dont think it would be an issue, in fact it might even be a strength as a lot of people neglect the theory side and focus solely on the practical. Both are 50% of the overall grade but schools often run out of time to teach the theory properly as some focus too much on the practical (i would advise reading your textbook where you can just in case this happens). Some schools run theory lessons alongside the practical ones (usually one every week or every two weeks) but ramp up the teaching after the practical is submitted around about april.
For the practical you do a portfolio alongside it, on average this tends to amount to 40-50 A3 pages at the end. The portfolio is stuff like initial design ideas (drawings and sketches) and mind maps but the majority of it writing that goes with the product you are correct :yep:. The writing is stuff like why you designed what you did, what went well with your models, each stage of the manufacturing you did and stuff like that make sure to include lots of photos even of stuff that didnt turn out great as examiners like to see trial and error.
Don't worry too much about the practical side, there should be a school technician that can help you work out what the best processes would be and to guide you on how to use any machinery

(Original post by Tomh0003)
How much time did you put into it everyday? What grade did you get? Thanks
Honestly its quite hard to say since i rotated around the subjects i was doing as a way of keeping my mind fresh for designs (i.e i would move onto another subject when i found myself running into a wall with ideas)
I think for GCSE i maybe did like 6 hours on it a week out of class? I did 10 GCSEs so only had one or two product design lessons a week depending on if it was week A or week B on the timetable. For GCSE i recieved an A*.
For Alevel the amount of work you do outside of class goes up quite a lot, it was maybe 15-20 hours a week? I'm not quite sure i just know it was more than GCSE but not unmanageable. To be completely honest i enjoyed A-level art a lot more so my main focus was on that a lot of the time as that was a lot more work than product design. I received an A for product design, i probably could have got an A* if i had diverted more time to it from art but i really wanted to get an A* for art more than i did for product design so that was my reasoning .
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Tomh0003
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(Original post by CoolCavy)
Honestly its quite hard to say since i rotated around the subjects i was doing as a way of keeping my mind fresh for designs (i.e i would move onto another subject when i found myself running into a wall with ideas)
I think for GCSE i maybe did like 6 hours on it a week out of class? I did 10 GCSEs so only had one or two product design lessons a week depending on if it was week A or week B on the timetable. For GCSE i recieved an A*.
For Alevel the amount of work you do outside of class goes up quite a lot, it was maybe 15-20 hours a week? I'm not quite sure i just know it was more than GCSE but not unmanageable. To be completely honest i enjoyed A-level art a lot more so my main focus was on that a lot of the time as that was a lot more work than product design. I received an A for product design, i probably could have got an A* if i had diverted more time to it from art but i really wanted to get an A* for art more than i did for product design so that was my reasoning .
Thank you so much !!!
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Tomh0003
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(Original post by CoolCavy)
Honestly its quite hard to say since i rotated around the subjects i was doing as a way of keeping my mind fresh for designs (i.e i would move onto another subject when i found myself running into a wall with ideas)
I think for GCSE i maybe did like 6 hours on it a week out of class? I did 10 GCSEs so only had one or two product design lessons a week depending on if it was week A or week B on the timetable. For GCSE i recieved an A*.
For Alevel the amount of work you do outside of class goes up quite a lot, it was maybe 15-20 hours a week? I'm not quite sure i just know it was more than GCSE but not unmanageable. To be completely honest i enjoyed A-level art a lot more so my main focus was on that a lot of the time as that was a lot more work than product design. I received an A for product design, i probably could have got an A* if i had diverted more time to it from art but i really wanted to get an A* for art more than i did for product design so that was my reasoning .
I really appreciate that, thank you!
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CoolCavy
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(Original post by Tomh0003)
I really appreciate that, thank you!
No problem at all best of luck with everything
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Eliza1233
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(Original post by CoolCavy)
Hey (sorry for the late reply )
Honestly i dont think it would be an issue, in fact it might even be a strength as a lot of people neglect the theory side and focus solely on the practical. Both are 50% of the overall grade but schools often run out of time to teach the theory properly as some focus too much on the practical (i would advise reading your textbook where you can just in case this happens). Some schools run theory lessons alongside the practical ones (usually one every week or every two weeks) but ramp up the teaching after the practical is submitted around about april.
For the practical you do a portfolio alongside it, on average this tends to amount to 40-50 A3 pages at the end. The portfolio is stuff like initial design ideas (drawings and sketches) and mind maps but the majority of it writing that goes with the product you are correct :yep:. The writing is stuff like why you designed what you did, what went well with your models, each stage of the manufacturing you did and stuff like that make sure to include lots of photos even of stuff that didnt turn out great as examiners like to see trial and error.
Don't worry too much about the practical side, there should be a school technician that can help you work out what the best processes would be and to guide you on how to use any machinery
Thank you so much! This is really really helpful
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sijeh
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for A-level im doing an architectural model and im really stuck on my development pages and how to lay it all out? if anyone has any suggestions would be great
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