Design: 3D A Level

A Level | AQA

Everything we see, touch and interact with has been designed. Play a role in shaping the future of mankind.

You will be involved in designing, creating, and solving problems in order to meet functional and aesthetic needs. The emphasis is on learning how and why products are designed and made, and how you as a designer can make improvements. 


If you like the idea of designing using freehand drawing as well as computer-generated techniques, and you want to make products using a variety of resistant materials then this is the course for you. 


In your first year, you will develop your designing, sketching, CAD, and making capabilities through a series of short projects and activities culminating in your own project. You will also undertake an exam board set project at the end of the year.

In your first term you will rotate through a variety of short projects, each developing your skills and techniques in the following areas:


  • Sketching/Drawing 
  • CAD Software 
  • Workshop 
  • Designing 
  • Modelling and Prototyping 
  • Research


In your second term, you will move on to your own extended project work. In your second year, you will extend and develop further your technical understanding of materials and manufacturing processes as well as your capabilities to generate ideas through drawing and CAD. You will undertake a personal study of designers or design movements, as well as complete a series of short projects, together with an extended project of your own choosing.


In your final period, you will also complete a project set by the exam board in response to their theme.


If you enjoy working with resistant materials such as wood, metals, and plastics and have an interest in architecture, Product and furniture design then this is the course for you!

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Course details

What are the entry requirements?

A minimum of five GCSEs at grade 4 or above. A grade 4 or above in a Design and Technology based GCSE is preferable. 

An understanding of the working properties of Woods, Metals and Plastics is essential. 

How will I be assessed?

This is a 100% coursework assessed A level subject. There are no written exams instead you are required to demonstrate your knowledge, understanding, and capabilities through your practical and design work. 

At the end of your first year, you will be submitting a design book, a range of A3 design sheets, and a series of models, prototypes and working design solutions.

In your first year, your design book will contain evidence of the techniques we have taught you through the set exercises and short projects; evidence of your own extended project (to include research, analysis, designing, and making); preliminary design work for the exam board-set project; and final 3D design prototypes. 

In your second year, you will submit a personal study of the work of other designers or design movements as well as an extended design project.

Component Assessment Method %
Coursework Own projects, Personal study 60%
Exam project Externally set assignment, External set component, Own project choice 40%

For both your coursework and the exam project you will be assessed on your ability to record your research and ideas; analyse and evaluate; develop ideas; realise your designs

What extra work can I do?

Develop your practical skills and understanding of the working properties of woods, metals and plastics. You are also expected to keep up to date with current exhibitions, research designers that inspire you.

What skills will I learn?

Your week is divided into different sessions initially, each designed to help improve your drawing and designing techniques. As the term progresses some of the time is still devoted purely to techniques extending your abilities to record your ideas as well as making; and some of the time is devoted to understanding technological issues (material properties, manufacturing processes, and design movements). Gradually more and more time is given over to your project work.

A key difference you will notice from school is our departmental tutorial system. You will receive regular one-to-one sessions with your lead teacher to help discuss your progress and to plan your project work. 

Visits trips and speakers also play an important part in the course. Each year we take students to London, to the New Designers’ Degree Show and to Munich to tour the BMW factory, the Allianz Arena, and The Pinakothek Design Museum.

What is the department like?

A design studio with CAD/CAM facilities (including laser, CNC and 3D printing machines) as well as a well-equipped workshop. We use Corel, Photoshop, Solid works and Sketch up software in our teaching areas. You will also be given a copy of our design software for use on your own computer.

We operate an Open Access policy – which means you can use the facilities any time you do not have a lesson as well. There is a small yearly charge (currently £25) levied on this course to pay for all necessary materials to successfully complete the course.

Future Careers and Progression

What are the progression routes for this qualification?

This course is highly regarded by the universities as an excellent foundation for degree study in any design field. However, it is particularly useful to those of you considering architecture, engineering, furniture, interior design, theatre design, industrial and product design. 

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'Good design is innovative...
Good design makes a product useful...
Good design is aesthetic...
Good design makes a product understandable. 
Good design is unobtrusive...
Good design is honest. 
Good design is long-lasting...
Good design is thorough down to the last detail.' ~ Dieter Rams

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