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Notre Dame High School

Notre Dame
High School

Graphic Design

Edexcel GCSE Design and Technology (Graphic Design) is engaging and inspiring, and reflects the demands of a truly modern and evolving society – this qualification enables students to apply themselves and develop the practical skills needed to succeed in their chosen pathway.

In contrast to KS3 Design and Technology, pupils have greater freedom to design products from their own specification. Typical outcomes could include; architectural models of shops, clubs and music venues; merchandise bags, business cards, promotional gifts, perfume/aftershave packages, music merchandise, CDs, etc.


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 How is GCSE Graphic Design structured?

During Year 10 students will learn about a range of materials and processes for papers and boards through workshops and mini design and make projects.  The theory content of the course will also be covered throughout Year 10 and where relevant, link to the workshops and mini design and make projects.

Following the workshops and mini design and make projects, during Year 10 students will begin their non-examined assessment which will continue throughout Year 11.  Theory knowledge will continue to be reviewed and applied throughout Year 11.

  Year 10 Year 11
Autumn 1 Material Types, Properties and Structures NEA Contextual Challenge
Autumn 2 Papers and Boards  
Spring 1 Energy, Materials, Systems and Devices NEA Contextual Challenge
Spring 2 New and Emerging Technologies NEA Contextual Challenge
Summer 1 Informing Design Decisions  
Summer 2

Designing Principles

Begin Contextual Challenge


How is the subject assessed?

Your GCSE Graphic Design mark is decided by a written examination, and a Non-examined Assessment.  The Non-examined Assessment will be assessed by the subject teachers according to a detailed assessment criteria.  This is then moderated by the exam board.

Written examination (1 hour and 45 minutes):  50% of the qualification – 100 marks

Section A:Core

This section is 40 marks and contains a mixture of different question styles, including open-response, graphical, calculation and extended-open-response questions. There will be 10 marks of calculation questions in Section A.

Section B: Material categories

This section is 60 marks and contains a mixture of different question styles, including open-response, graphical, calculation and extended-open-response questions. There will be 5 marks of calculation questions in Section B.

Non-examined assessment:  50% of the qualification – 100 marks

There are four parts to the assessment:

1 – Investigate:  This includes investigation of needs and research, and a product specification

2 – Design:  This includes producing different design ideas, review of initial ideas, development of design ideas into a chosen design, communication of design ideas and review of the chosen design

3 – Make:  This includes manufacture, and quality and accuracy

4 – Evaluate:  This includes testing and evaluation

Career Pathways 

What does it lead to?

GCSE Graphic Design students can go on to study A Level Product Design at Notre Dame High School, and a range of other Level 3 Product Design related courses, and apprenticeships.  Following on from A Level/Level 3 courses, students can study foundation and degree courses at colleges and universities, including Norwich University of the Arts (NUA).  At degree level students will train in their area of specialisation, before going on to become a Graphic Designer or Engineer, to name a few examples in a broad variety of specialist jobs and careers.

GCSE Graphic Design can also develop highly valuable transferable skills, including creative ideas development, problem-solving, contextual interpretation and visual communication, as well as organisational, presentation, and team-working skills.

For more information click on our A Level Product Design course.

For advice on apprenticeship courses, click here.

Career Options

Careers in graphic design include; graphic designer, digital and multimedia design, colour technologist and communication design.

You can watch a great series of videos of young people who are working in jobs that use graphics on the BBC Bitesize website.

For example careers leading from this subject, click here.

Creative Industries: explore a wide selection of creative careers

Apprenticeship courses: Info on what an apprenticeship is and courses available

Norwich University of the Arts
NUA is a dynamic and creative community providing arts, design, architecture and media education.

GCSE Graphic Design FAQs 

What skills and attributes do I need to be successful in GCSE Graphic Design?

To be successful in GCSE Graphic Design, is it important to be creative, and have a genuine passion for graphic design.  An open mind and willingness to listen and take advice will be a huge benefit as students advance through the course.

Students studying GCSE Graphic Design are expected to be highly motivated and, together with guidance from their subject teacher, be able to work independently.  As students progress through the course, they will become increasingly confident regarding the properties and applications of a range of materials and processes for papers and boards.

What skills, knowledge and grades do I need to do Graphic Design?

Ideally, students who select GCSE Graphic Design will have enjoyed Design and Technology, specifically graphic design, in KS3.  Students should enjoy the process of developing skills, ideas and understanding, together with the combination of practical, technical, creative, and contextual demands involved a practical subject.  Provided students are committed to the course, willing to learn, and can display their creative and practical skills and knowledge, they will be successful while studying Graphic Design.


What equipment is needed for GCSE Graphic Design?

Most of the materials and equipment you will use will be available at school.  However, it is useful to have a stationary set that comprises of drawing a designing equipment.

Some essentials are:

  • Drawing pencils
  • Fineliners
  • Coloured pens and pencils for design work
  • Set squares
  • Protractor
  • Compass
  • Ruler

What equipment is available when studying GCSE Graphic Design?

  • 3D printer
  • Bag press
  • Casting and brazing facilities
  • Centre lathe for metal work
  • Disk sander
  • Heat press
  • Hot wire cutter
  • Jigsaw
  • Laser cutter
  • Pillar drill
  • Software, including 2D Design, Photoshop and Solidworks
  • Soldering irons
  • Vacuum formers
  • Vinyl cutter