A-Level Product Design

Qualification: AQA A-level GCE in Design and Technology: Product Design (7552)

This is an option subject from 2017. It is made up of 50% exams and 50% project work.

Year 12 – Year 13

Paper 1 – Written Exam: Technical Principles. This is worth 30% of the grade and lasts for 2 hours 30 minutes.

Mixture of short and extended response questions around the following topics:

  • Materials and their applications
    • Classification of materials
    • Methods for investigating and testing materials
  • Performance characteristics of materials
    • Papers and boards
    • Polymer based sheet and film
    • Woods
    • Metals
    • Polymers
    • Elastomers
    • Biodegradable polymers
    • Composites
    • Smart materials
    • Modern materials
  • Enhancement of materials
    • Polymers
    • Woods
    • Metals
  • Forming, redistribution and addition processes
    • Papers and boards
    • Polymers
    • Metals
  • Use of adhesives and fixings
  • Jigs and fixtures
  • The use of finishes
    • Papers and boards including printing
    • Polymers
    • Metals
    • Woods
  • Modern industrial and commercial practice
    • Scales of production
    • Efficient use of materials
    • Use of computer systems
    • Sub-assembly
  • Digital design and manufacture
    • Computer aided design (CAD)
    • Computer aided manufacture (CAM)
    • Virtual modelling
    • Rapid prototyping processes
    • Electronic data interchange
    • Production, planning and control (PPC) networking
  • Requirements for product design and development
    • Product development and improvement
    • Inclusive design
  • Health and safety
    • Safe working practices
    • Safety in products and services to the customer
  • Protecting designs and intellectual property
  • Design for manufacture, maintenance, repair and disposal
  • Feasibility studies
  • Enterprise and marketing in the development of products
  • Design communication
  • Modern manufacturing systems

Paper 2 – Written Exam: Designing and Making Principles. This is worth 20% of the grade and lasts for 1 hour 30 minutes.

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.

This paper will include the following topics:

  • Design methods and processes
  • Design theory
    • Design influences
    • Design styles and movements
    • Designers and their work
  • How technology and cultural changes can impact on the work of designers
    • Socio-economic influences
    • Major developments in technology
    • Social, moral and ethical issues
    • Product lifecycle
  • Design process
    • The use of a design process
    • Prototype development
    • Interative design in industrial and commercial context
  • Critical analysis and evaluation
    • Testing and evaluating products
    • Use of third party feedback
  • Selecting appropriate tools, equipment and processes
  • Accuracy in design and manufacture
  • Responsible design
    • Environmental issues
    • Conservation of energy and resources
  • Design for manufacture and product management
    • Planning for accuracy and efficiency
    • Quality assurance
    • Quality control
  • National and international standards in product design

Non Exam Assessment (NEA) – Project: Designing and Making. This is worth 50% of the grade and is worked on through lessons.

This assessment is in five parts as follows:

  • Identifying and investigating design possibilities (20 marks)
  • Producing a design brief and specification (10 marks)
  • Development of design proposal(s) including modelling (25 marks)
  • Development of design prototype(s) (25 marks)
  • Analysing and evaluating (20 marks)


Students will be graded on a six point scale of A*, A, B, C, D or E.