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Course leader: Mrs R Postill

Aims of the course: 

The aim of the course is to develop students’ knowledge, understanding and skills across a broad Design and Manufacturing course. They will work from the position of a professional designer, considering key factors in design and manufacturing such as green issues, economics, moral and ethical issues, working within designer legislation at the same time as fulfilling a need and producing exciting and innovative conceptual work. They will gain experience in working with live clients and have a developed understanding of the Design and manufacturing industry. Students will study and complete projects in a range of timbers, metals, polymers (plastics), electronics, smart materials and textiles. They will develop industry standard skills and techniques using software and machines that we have access to as a faculty, including 3D printing, laser cutting, CNC milling, dye sublimation and programming microchips. Students will also develop a strong understanding of contextual references and will be able to assess design in the past and present and make predictions for future technologies. In summary, A-Level Design & Technology is a real-world view and study of design, manufacturing and artefacts in modern society.

The Units

Students who do the course will undertake the following in Year 12:

  • A range of design and practical based units in all materials areas (woods, metals, plastics, papers and
  • Designer inspired product from timber
  • Packaging design 
  • Metal working
  • Textiles theory and Techniques
  • Product evolution
  • Product analysis
  • Green Design and environmental factors
  • Industry and levels of production (including factory / manufacturing visits)
  • The role of ICT in manufacturing
  • CAD and CAM skills and knowledge will be built up throughout the year for laser cutting, milling and 3D printing
  • Non-Examined Assessment (NEA) commences in April of year 12

In year 13, students will:

  • Complete their independent Non-Examined Assessment (NEA) working with live clients and considering manufacturing and impact on society, the economy and the environment
  • Students will then revise theory topics on the 12 following areas from the specification
    1. Materials 
    2. Performance characteristics of materials 
    3. Processes and techniques 
    4. Digital technologies.
    5. Factors affecting the development of products
    6. Effects of technological developments
    7. Potential hazards and risk assessments 
    8. Features affecting manufacturing industries 
    9. Designing for maintenance and the cleaner environment 
    10. Current legislation
    11. Information handling, modelling and forward planning 
    12. Further processes and techniques

What are lessons like? 

Design & technology lessons are engaging, inspiring and busy. The course is part theory and part practical. Students will be taught design theory and their skills, knowledge and understanding will be applied in a 60 hour coursework assignment and one exam at the end of the course. Students will often undertake practice questions to support their learning and they will also produce a range of products and practical samples to experience techniques and processes. Students will have the opportunity to present their work to clients, establishing strong links between the course and the design and manufacturing industry. They will be encouraged to take responsibility for their own learning and they will develop essential organisation and communication skills to prepare them for Higher education and the world of work. 

Cost of the course? 

You are expected to be prepared with basic drawing tools and equipment. A3 flip files will be provided by the college and specialist materials and memory sticks can be purchased form the faculty shop at competitive prices. Additional costs include trips to exhibitions in London and Newcastle, University open days and some factory visits. 

How you will be assessed

The course has three sections:

Paper 1 is a two and a half hour exam on Technical principles. This carries 30% of the marks for the A-Level grade. This section of the work tests all knowledge of materials and processes, manufacturing, sustainability and technologies. This is learned throughout the two years of the course from completion of a range of focussed tasks, design and make assignments and from theory-based learning.

Paper 2 is a one and a half hour exam and is based on designing and making principles. This carries 20% of the A-Level grade.

Non-Examined Assessment (NEA). This carries 50% of the marks for the A-level grade. This is an independent unit of work which involves working with a client to produce a research, design, develop, production and evaluation project.

Recommended prior learning /entry requirements:

It is advantageous that students who choose to study A-Level Design & Technology to have successfully completed a level 2 course (e.g. GCSE Product Design / Design & Technology / Engineering or BTEC Level 2 in Art and Design or Engineering), although this is not essential. The course requires a strong and independent work ethic from the outset and an enjoyment of creative subjects.

Where can this course lead to?

Students who study A-Level Design & Technology can go on to Higher Education to undertake degree courses in a range of fields from Engineering, Design for Industry, Transportations design, 3D Design to Fashion design, Illustration, Graphic Design and Textiles. There are many creative courses available Post 16 and as a Faculty, we have strong links with many Universities and industries to provide our students with the best support and opportunities.

Why study Art & Design at St Mary’s College Sixth Form?

St Mary’s College is ‘Outstanding’ and this reflects the hard work and dedication that is evidently in place for our students. The pastoral care, guidance and support is valuable in ensuring that we impact positively on every student in our care. We have a record of excellent results and we have well-equipped studios and workshop facilities. Industrial links continue to be developed with the Faculty to provide sound knowledge, understanding and experience of the Design, Manufacturing and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) Industries. Our tutors are experienced in a wide range of design specialist areas including Graphic design, Fashion and Textiles, Printmaking, Digital imaging, Photography and 3D / product Design. We are also well-placed in a Faculty with Creative Media Production and Media studies, giving us strong supportive networks relating to TV and Film production. We celebrate the successes of our students in an end of course exhibition.
If you would like more information on A-Level Design & Technology, please feel free to contact Mrs Postill or Mrs Reading at St Mary’s College.