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Design & Technology GCSE

AQA 8552 (9-1)

GCSE Design and Technology (D&T) prepares students for a life in our ever-changing technological world, providing opportunities to design and make new products or systems to make positive changes in all aspects of society. Students will learn to be expert problem solvers, gaining a detailed understanding of how materials and processes can be used to create new opportunities in design to make our world a better place to live. You will learn about the circular nature of the design process from concept, formulation and analysis of a brief, research, experimentation to final outcome. There will be interaction with professional designers, local visits, plus a study trip to a major city.

In D&T lessons, students learn about designing solutions to improve people’s lives, they are able to make better decisions, they understand more about the impact of products on the world.

Students will learn all about designing and making products mainly through practical activities and managing their own projects.

D&T is an important subject that connects across many disciplines and can give you:

  • greater career opportunities in STEM
  • the opportunity to learn practical life skills
  • a greater understanding of technology, people and the environment
  • a chance to be creative
  • problem solving skills
  • an understanding of engineering.

Course content

The course has three main aspects:

  1. Core technical principles

  2. Specialist technical principles

  3. Design and making principles. In addition
    • at least 15% of the exam will assess maths
    • at least 10% of the exam will assess science


  • Project work: non-examined assessment (approx. 35 hours) - 50% of the GCSE
  • Written exam 2 hour: 50% of the GCSE

Paper 1

  • Section A – Core technical principles (20 marks). A mixture of multiple choice and short answer questions assessing a breadth of technical knowledge and understanding.


  • Section B – Specialist technical principles (30 marks). Several short answer questions (2-5 marks) and one extended response to assess a more in depth knowledge of technical principles.


  • Section C – Designing and making principles (50 marks). A mixture of short answers and extended response questions.

Non-examined assessment (NEA)

Over the course of 30-35 hours of work, students will produce a prototype and a portfolio of evidence which is marked by the centre and then moderated externally. Students will create projects from a selection of themes or challenges set by the exam board.

Assessment criteria:

  • Identifying and investigating design possibilities
  • Producing a design brief and specification
  • Generating design ideas
  • Developing design ideas
  • Realising design ideas
  • Analysing & evaluating

Examples of recent work

3D Design GCSE3D Design GCSE