Product Design

AQA A-level 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.

Subject content

1.      Technical principles

2.      Designing and making principles


Paper 1

What's assessed: 

·         Technical principles

How it's assessed:

·         Written exam: 2 hours and 30 minutes

·         120 marks

·         30% of A-level

·         Questions: Mixture of short answer and extended response.

Paper 2

What's assessed:

·         Designing and making principles

How it's assessed:

·         Written exam: 1 hour and 30 minutes

·         80 marks

·         20% of A-level

·         Questions: Mixture of short answer and extended response questions.

Section A:

·         Product Analysis: 30 marks

·         Up to 6 short answer questions based on visual stimulus of product(s).

·         Section B:

·         Commercial manufacture: 50 marks

·         Mixture of short and extended response questions

Non-exam assessment (NEA)

What's assessed:

·         Practical application of technical principles, designing and making principles.

How it's assessed:

·         Substantial design and make project

·         100 marks

·         50% of A-level

·         Evidence

·         Written or digital design portfolio and photographic evidence of final prototype.

Subject content

A-level Design and Technology: Product Design requires students to engage in both practical and theoretical study. This specification requires students to cover design and technology skills and knowledge as set out below. These have been separated into:

·         Technical principles

·         Designing and making principles.

The specification content is presented in a two column format. The left hand column contains the specification content all students must cover, and forms the basis for the assessments. This column gives additional information to ensure students study the topic in appropriate depth and gives teachers the parameters in which the subject will be assessed.

Students should develop the ability to draw on and apply a range of skills and knowledge from other subject areas to inform their decisions in design and the application or development of technology. There are clear links between aspects of the specification content and other subject areas such as Computer Science (section ‘The use of computer systems’ and section ‘Digital design and manufacture’); Business Studies (section ‘Enterprise and marketing in the development of products; Art and Design (section ‘Design communication’) and History (section ‘Design Theory’). This is not an exhaustive list, and there are other opportunities within the specification for students to integrate and apply their wider learning and understanding from other subject areas studied during Key Stage 4, as well as those subjects that they are studying alongside A-level Design and Technology.

Students must also demonstrate maths and science skills. The right hand column throughout subject content illustrates potential links where maths and science skills and knowledge can be applied in the context of design and technology. These are examples of where these skills can be applied and are not intended to be exhaustive.


Courses based on this specification must encourage students to:

·         Be open to taking design risks, showing innovation and enterprise whilst considering their role as responsible designers and citizens

·         Develop intellectual curiosity about the design and manufacture of products and systems, and their impact on daily life and the wider world

·         Work collaboratively to develop and refine their ideas, responding to feedback from users, peers and expert practitioners

·         Gain an insight into the creative, engineering and/or manufacturing industries

·         Develop the capacity to think creatively, innovatively and critically through focused research and the exploration of design opportunities arising from the needs, wants and values of users and clients

·         Develop knowledge and experience of real world contexts for design and technological activity

·         Develop an in-depth knowledge and understanding of materials, components and processes associated with the creation of products that can be tested and evaluated in use

·         Be able to make informed design decisions through an in-depth understanding of the management and development of taking a design through to a prototype/product

·         Be able to create and analyse a design concept and use a range of skills and knowledge from other subject areas, including maths and science, to inform decisions in design and the application or development of technology

·         Be able to work safely and skilfully to produce high-quality prototypes/products

·         Have a critical understanding of the wider influences on design and technology, including cultural, economic, environmental, historical and social factors

·         Develop the ability to draw on and apply a range of skills and knowledge from other subject areas, including the use of maths and science for analysis and informing decisions in design.