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Design and Technology

Exam Board: Pearson Edexcel

What is the GCSE about?

We offer Edexcel GCSE 9-1 Design and Technology which encourages design risk taking and innovation by solving problems associated with a given contextual challenge. Pupils undertake a large design and make project and a written examination in the Fifth Form.

What does the GCSE consist of? 

The GCSE is assessed in two ways:

Component 1 is a written examination and Component 2 is a Design and Make project and portfolio.

Component 1

Written examination: 1 hour and 45 minutes (50% of the qualification).

  • The impact of new and emerging technologies
  • How the critical evaluation of new and emerging technologies informs design decisions; considering contemporary and potential future scenarios from different perspectives, such as ethics and the environment.
  • How Energy is generated and stored in order to choose and use appropriate sources to make products and power systems.
  • Developments in modern and smart materials and technical textiles.
  • The functions of mechanical devices used to produce different sorts of movements, including the changing of magnitude and the direction of forces.
  • How electronic systems provide functionality to products and processes, including sensors and control devices to respond to a variety of inputs, and devices to produce a range of outputs.
  • The use of programmable components to embed functionality into products in order to enhance and customise their operation.
  • The categorisation of the types, properties and structure of ferrous and non-ferrous metals.
  • The categorisation of the types, properties and structure of papers and boards.
  • The categorisation of the types, properties and structure of thermoforming and thermosetting polymers.
  • The categorisation of the types, properties and structure of natural, synthetic, blended and mixed fibres, and woven, non-woven and knitted textiles.
  • The categorisation of the types, properties and structure of natural and manufactured timbers.
  • All design and technological practice takes place within contexts which inform outcomes.
  • Investigate environmental, social and economic challenges when identifying opportunities and constraints that influence the processes of designing and making.
  • Investigate and analyse the work of past and present professionals and companies in order to inform design.
  • Use different design strategies to generate initial ideas and avoid design fixation.
  • Develop, communicate, record and justify design ideas, applying suitable techniques.
    • Timbers, Specialism Content
    • Design contexts.
    • The sources, origins, physical and working properties of each natural and manufactured timber and their social and ecological footprint.
    • The way in which the selection of each natural and manufactured timber is influenced.
    • The impact of forces and stresses on each natural and manufactured timber and how they can be reinforced and stiffened.
    • Typical stock forms, types and sizes to calculate and determine the required quantity of each natural and manufactured timber.
    • Alternative processes that can be used to manufacture typical products of each natural and manufactured timber to different scales of production.
    • Specialist techniques, tools, equipment and processes that can be used on each natural and manufactured timber to shape, fabricate, construct and assemble a high-quality prototype.
    • Appropriate surface treatments and finishes that can be applied to each natural and manufactured timber for functional and aesthetic purposes.

Component 2

Non-examined assessment (50% of the qualification)

Pupils will undertake a project based on a contextual challenge released by the exam board a year before certification. This will be released on 1st June and will be made available to pupils on this day. The project will test pupils' skills in investigating, designing, making and evaluating a prototype of a product. Task will be internally assessed and externally moderated. The marks are awarded for each part as follows.

  1. Investigate (16 marks)
  2. Design (42 marks)
  3. Make (36 marks)
  4. Evaluate (6 marks)

There are four parts to the assessment:

  • Investigate This includes investigation of needs and research, and a product specification
  • Design This includes producing different design ideas, review of initial ideas, development of design ideas into a chosen design, communication of design ideas and review of the chosen design
  • Make This includes manufacture, and quality and accuracy
  • Evaluate This includes testing and evaluation.

Whom does the subject suit?

Design and Technology suits pupils with enquiring minds, who are creative thinkers and who have a degree of self-management. These skills are nurtured throughout the study of Design and Technology, alongside reflective learning, team-working and effective communication. Examples of some of the skills used in the study of Design and Technology are; listening; reading; note-taking; contributing to class work; technical drawing; mathematical skills; modelling; CAD; manufacturing by hand and using CAM equipment; taking photographs and videos; creating digital portfolios.

What skills should I have?

The most important skill to have is that you are willing to learn and work, and that you enjoy a challenge. You should also have resilience, as the design process can be long and it can take time for your results to be seen. Your skills and understanding will grow over the course of study, both in terms of the range and the quality.

Successful pupils of Design and Technology are good listeners, and enjoy solving problems. You should have good organisation skills, and be familiar with using computers for creating work documents. Basic study skills – such as reading, listening, writing, note-taking, contributing to class discussions and time management – are needed for success at GCSE, as they are in all subjects at this level.

What might the subject lead to?

Choosing GCSE Design and Technology leads well to study at A level. After this, there is a world of opportunities in higher education and careers. Some examples include but are not limited to:

  • Architecture, including interior architecture and landscape architecture.
  • Product design
  • Industrial design
  • Interior design
  • Graphic design
  • Engineering (all branches including but not limited to: civil, bionics, climate, cryogenics, CGI effects, energy conservation, medical imaging, robotics, stadium, transport and software)
  • Software tester
  • Disaster relief specialist
  • Digital musician
  • Smart cities specialist
  • Rehabilitation engineer
  • Games designer
  • Prosthetics technician
  • Animator
  • Special effects director
  • Certified ethical hacker
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • Furniture designer and maker
  • Apprenticeships, including:
    • Engineering model maker
    • Design and draughting technician
    • Civil Engineering technician
    • Theatre set carpenter
    • Mechanic
    • Plumber
    • Electrician

What trips are involved?

An educational trip to Japan is in the planning stages, with a view to travelling in 2022.

What else should I consider before choosing?

Before opting for Design and Technology, it is important to remember that you will not be making all of the time! The workshops are well-resourced and are attractive, but they do not represent the whole of the subject. The first 7 stages of the design process are predominantly spent in the classroom, with increasing access to the workshop as you become prepared.

You should also consider whether working on an extended project – lasting up to a year – is going to be something that you will enjoy. You will be working on the same project for a long time, and this style of working develops useful skills for life beyond school. Studying Design and Technology is like no other subject; this can feel uncomfortable for some pupils at first, but it is immensely rewarding.

What preparatory work should I do?

Recommended reading:

  • The Design of Everyday Things (The MIT Press) - Donald A. Norman
  • The Design Thinking Playbook: Mindful Digital Transformation of Teams, Products, Services, Businesses and Ecosystems - Michael Lewrick, Patrick Link & Larry Leife
  • Design: The Whole Story Paperback – Elizabeth Wilhide & Jonathan Glancey
  • Making It, Third edition: manufacturing Techniques for Product Design - Chris Lefteri
  • Manufacturing Processes for Design Professionals - Rob Thompson
  • Drawing for Product Designers (Portfolio Skills) - Kevin Henry
  • Research Methods for Product Design (Portfolio Skills) - Alex Milton and Paul Rodgers
  • Design for the 21st Century (Icons Series) - Charlotte Fiell and Peter Fiell
  • The eco-design handbook (Thames and Hudson) - Alastair Fuad-Luke
  • Design Sketching by Erik Olofsson and Klara Sjolen

Who will teach me?

Ms White – the Head of Department will teach you for both years at GCSE.