Product design

Product Design is the perfect subject for those that have a thirst for both academic challenges and hands on practical problem solving. The subject allows the freedom for students to explore design problems practically and theoretically and tackle them with the aim of developing solutions that improve and enhance the lives of others. Few subjects allow for students to explore such a plethora of activities as Product Design, using a range of equipment, processes and techniques.

Through investigation, research and design development, students go through a process of iterative design where they create variations of their design proposals in digital CAD and physical form. Through justification and evaluation their proposals are analysed in terms of their suitability to solve the design brief and then present the solution as a working prototype alongside a portfolio of evidence. Through this process students gain an in depth knowledge of materials, manufacturing techniques and hands on experience of safe workshop practice. Students who study Product Design find this subject gratifying and enriching as it allows them to think in depth about the world around them, consider their conception and evolution and be part of the future of innovation.


A level Design & Technology Product Design

Awarding body AQA

Entry requirements

GCSE at Grade 5 or above in both Maths and English

Course content

Product design is split into three main areas; Technical principles, Designing and making principles and a non-exam assessment (NEA). This concludes as two final exams (50% of final grade) and an NEA portfolio (worth 50% of final grade).

Year 12

Students focus on developing confidence in working independently in the workshop and building an in-depth knowledge of materials and processes, designing and the development of prototype design concepts through a selection of mini projects and assessments.  This aims to prepare students for the exams and controlled assessment in year 13. 

Some of the topics covered include; Performance characteristics of materials, Digital design and manufacture (Autodesk Inventor), Health and safety, Product life cycle, Design processes, Critical analysis and evaluation. 

Year 13

In year 13 students embark on their final major project which requires them to develop a substantial portfolio as part of the NEA submission worth 50% of the final grade.  This is an opportunity for students to showcase their designing and making skills and their understanding of designing for specific markets and individuals.  Students are required to make a working prototype model to showcase their design solution after carrying out focussed research and design development.  Exam theory continues alongside this in preparation for the final examinations at the end of the course.


NEA: 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. With reference to the context, students will develop a specific brief that meets the needs of a user, client or market.  Students must then produce a final prototype based on the design brief they have developed, along with a written or digital design folder or portfolio (50% of final grade).  This must clearly evidence how the assessment criteria have been met together with photographic evidence of the final manufactured prototype outcome.

Examinations:  2 written exams; Technical principles (2.5hrs, 30%) & Designing and making principles (1.5hrs, 20%).

Product design allows for massive amounts of creativity and an insight into how products are designed, developed and even marketed. The freedom available means that nothing is impossible and with incredible technology like 3D printers there really is no limit.
Ben Alexander, Year 12 student
From studying Product Design throughout both GCSE and A-Level I have had the amazing opportunity to deeply explore how the items around us work, why they work, and how they are made. From studying design philosophy and manufacturing methods to practical workshop skills, this subject covers a wide range of use...
Reece Taylor, Year 13 student

Why study product design?

Product Design is a crucial step in the right direction towards a career in the Design industry including; Architecture, Industrial design, 3D Design, Automotive and Transport Design, Product Design, Fashion Design and is also a fantastic supporting qualification of other Art and Media qualifications.  It also supports students looking at a future in Engineering as it further develops their understanding of materials and manufacturing methods. 

Product design has always been something I've loved! You can express your ideas and have creative freedom and let’s not forget you get to use LASERS!! I would highly recommend it to anyone even if you think you won't like it there are aspects for everyone to enjoy from modelling, to making, to drawing... EVER...
Elliott Barton, Year 12 student