Design and Technology

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Design and technology (D&T) is a curricula designed to produce literacy in computers and related technologies. It is offered as a school subject at all levels of secondary school in the United Kingdom. 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, Malta, 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. Design 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 Design 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 human factors and ergonomics, resource management and sustainable production, modeling, raw materials to final production, innovation and design, classic design. It covers advanced higher level topics in user centered design, sustainability, innovation and markets, and commercial production. The diploma is accepted for university entrance in many countries, and is a good preparation for careers in areas such as engineering, architecture, product design, interior design, design and education.


Technological education is part of the Scottish secondary school curriculum. Technological education is segregated into various subjects available at National 4, National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher

Standard Subject in Technical

  • Graphic Communication
  • Design and Manufacture
  • Engineering Science
  • Practical Electronics (available to N5 level)
  • Practical Woodwork (available to N5 level)
  • Practical Metalwork (available to N5 level)

Specialist Subjects within Technical

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

Example work:


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.