Design and Technology

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Design and technology (D&T) is a school subject offered at all levels of primary and secondary school. In some countries such as England it is a part of the National Curriculum. It is offered in many countries around the world such as Malaysia, Brunei, Bermuda, Singapore, India, United States, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Hong Kong, Jordan and Botswana. Many international schools have courses in design and technology. As a school subject it involves students in designing in a practical context with a focus on, for example, food, textiles, resistant materials or digital media. It is also a university course in many countries, including Australia, Canada, the USA, Singapore, South Africa, Netherlands and New Zealand, both for the preparation of teachers and for general education in areas such as industrial design. Some of the UK universities which deliver courses include: Brighton, Sheffield Hallam, Goldsmiths' College and Greenwich.


At GCSE level, the two year course requires all students to produce one piece of coursework, which must consist of a product that the student has manufactured in the workshop plus a folder including research and analysis about the problem being solved. It should also include a specification based on the research and analysis which should in turn inform the sketched or modelled ideas. As these ideas are developed into workable solutions the students are required to evaluate them as they evolve. As well as a detailed plan of the making process to be undertaken in manufacturing a prototype product the product must take into account the various industrial practices necessary if the product were to be mass-produced commercially. On completion the course teacher awards marks for finish of the final product, creativity, complexity, and how well the project itself was made.

  • (AQA) 40% of the final mark is given for the coursework and 60% for an examination of general knowledge in the subject. Of the 40% coursework 20% is based on the making and 20% design work. There is a similar split within the 40% examination where 40% is based on making and 60% is based on designing.
  • (Edexcel) 60% coursework. 40% examination of general knowledge in the subject (materials, processes, techniques and sustainability etc.). Coursework is split 50% research and anaysis (Design Activity), and 50% actually making the item (Make Activity).
  • Types of GCSE D&T that can be taken
    • GCSE Design and Technology: Electronic Products
    • GCSE Design and Technology: Food Technology
    • GCSE Design and Technology: Graphic Products
    • GCSE Design and Technology: Resistant Materials
    • GCSE Design and Technology: Systems and Control
    • GCSE Design and Technology: Textiles Technology

A level[edit]

A and AS level examinations are popular. The subject is a Human Science and as such many universities[who?] like the examination because it prepares students for individualised learning and problem solving, which is essential in business and industry. Time management is a key factor to candidates' success within the coursework elements of the qualification. The examinations are as rigorous as any other subject. Indeed, due to the complexity and variety of tasks and organisation skills required this examination and course is very demanding. The subject covers activities from control technology to aesthetic product design. Students have to use all types of computer software including computer-aided design and manufacture, spreadsheets and computer presentations. Outputs from such work are often sent to CNC machines for manufacture.

International Baccalaureate[edit]

IB Design Technology (DT) is an elective subject offered in many International Baccalaureate schools globally. Technology is also offered in the IB Middle Years Programme as a compulsory subject for grades 6–10, and at the Diploma Programme level (grades 11-12). IB Design Technology is very similar in content to Design Technology, which is widely offered in the national curricula of England, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and many African nations. It is one of the Group 4 sciences.

The primary focus of MYP Technology is to give students an understanding of the design cycle, through a practical programme. The student will complete projects based on solving a real and authentic problem. Students document their progress as they follow the design cycle to come to a feasible solution. They create the solution and then evaluate it following thorough testing.

The Diploma Programme of Design Technology is a two-year introduction to designing, a range of fundamentals of technology, and global technological issues. It provides students with the knowledge to be able to design and make in school workshops, and also to develop an informed literacy about technology in general. Because it is an international curriculum it has a particular focus on global environmental issues. It covers core topics in design, materials, product development and innovation, energy, structures, mechanisms and sustainability. Students can then specialize in one of textiles, electronic products, food, computer aided design or human factors. The diploma is accepted for university entrance in many countries, and is a good preparation for careers in areas such as engineering, architecture, design and education.


Technological education is part of the Scottish secondary school curriculum. Technological education is segregated into various subjects available at Standard Grade, Intermediate, Higher and Advanced Higher Level:

Standard Subject in Technical

  • Graphic communication
  • Craft and design
  • Technological studies
  • Product design
  • Practical craft skills (woodwork)
  • Practical craft skills (metalwork)

Specialist Subjects within Technical

  • Architectural technology
  • Automotive engineering
  • Civil engineering
  • Building services
  • Construction
  • Electrical engineering
  • Mechanical engineering
  • Mechatronics

New Zealand[edit]

The technology curriculum aims to develop technological literacy through three integrated learning strands to enable students to participate fully in the technological society and economy in which they will live and work. This curriculum seeks to enable and empower students with the know-how they will need to make informed choices about technology, and to be the technological innovators of the future. It runs from year 1 to year 13.[1] Strand A: Technological Knowledge and Understanding
1 understanding the use and operation of technologies; 2 understanding technological principles and systems; 3 understanding the nature of technological practice; 4 understanding strategies for the communication, promotion, and evaluation of technological ideas and outcomes.
Strand B: Technological Capability
5 identifying needs and opportunities; 6 with reference to identified needs and opportunities:
a: generating, selecting, developing, and adapting appropriate solutions; b: managing time, and human and physical resources, to produce technological outcomes—products, systems, and environments; c: presenting and promoting ideas, strategies, and outcomes; d: evaluating designs, strategies, and outcomes.

Strand C: Technology and Society
7 understanding the ways the beliefs, values, and ethics of individuals and groups: - promote or constrain technological development; - influence attitudes towards technological development; 8 understanding the impacts of technology on society and the environment: - in the past, present, and possible future; - in local, national, and international settings.


In the UK, the Arkwright Scholarships Trust awards two-year scholarships to students who are taking GCSE/Scottish Standard Grade in design & technology. The Arkwright Engineering Scholarships support students through their A levels/Scottish Highers and encourage them to study engineering or a related area of design at a top university or through a high-quality industrial apprenticeship.


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