Design – 3D Design A-level


Art and Design 3D is distinguishable in this option by the emphasis placed upon the creative and functional response to a design brief or context. This course provides an exciting opportunity for learners to experiment with a range of materials and contexts, such as product design, body adornment and jewellery, architecture and ceramics. 3D Design will help you develop your own ideas and hands on modelling and product making opportunities to explore design communication and problem solving. Students are encouraged to design sustainably and incorporate three dimensional research, communication and analytical skills, including organisation and self-management, valuable to a huge range of careers.

What will I study in Design - 3D Design A-level?


This is a creative course that allows you to design, make and model, environments, products and artefacts. 3D Design requires high levels of visual awareness, including drawing skills and the ability to work skilfully with tools and materials. You will create functional and decorative designs in response to given starting points or project briefs using a wide range of materials including wood, metals, plastics and ceramics. You will make things through traditional craft techniques and use modern technologies such as laser cutting and 3D printing.

Most projects will start with some visual research which will involve you drawing and photographing man-made and natural objects or environments. You will investigate the work of other artists and designers and develop an understanding of historic and contemporary creative practices. You will be introduced to a range of materials and you will learn how these can be manipulated and combined to create new and innovative 3D outcomes.
Projects might include:

• Architectural: exteriors, interiors and landscape
• Product Design: transport, consumer goods, lighting, furniture.
• Jewellery: body adornment, object d’art, fashion accessories.
• Ceramics: functional, ornamental and sculptural pottery.

During the individual project work, you will develop a personal direction within your creative work. You will select a theme that will serve as the inspiration and direction for your coursework. You will carry out visual research in the form of drawings and photographs and also experiment with materials and processes to establish what is possible and develop specific skills. You will generate a design brief and record and explore your ideas using sketches and maquettes to communicate your concepts. Your ideas will evolve and develop allowing you to produce your final work to a very high standard. You will work on your personal theme for about two and a half terms allowing you to develop sophisticated concepts and create larger scale outcomes. You will also produce a written essay based on the study of artists and designers that relate to your theme or the materials and techniques in which you choose to work.
This is a creative course and the emphasis is on developing visually exciting work regardless of the materials or processes that you choose to work with

To help us give the best advice and guidance it is really beneficial if you have photographs of your art/design work with you when you come to any open day, choices day, formal interview or enrolment.

Download the Open Day presentation for 3D Design

Entry Requirements

At least five GCSE’s at Grade 4 or above, all from the basket subjects including Grade 4 in Art GCSE or a MERIT or DISTINCTION at BTEC Level 2 in an Art or Design subject.

If you have not studied a creative visual course at GCSE, entry may also be made via portfolio/interview. You have the option of showing us the work you have done or there is a set project which you can undertake so that we can see your skills and gauge your enthusiasm to study this course.

How will I learn?

Most learning takes place through hands on experience together with in-depth individual research into artists, designers materials and techniques. The development of skills such as drawing and sketching requires practice and determination so you will learn by investing time and knowledge outside of lessons. (4-5 hours per week)  Becoming competent with particular techniques or technologies such as wood turning, CAD or model-making is time consuming and rewarding in equal measure. You will be shown how to use materials and techniques by practical demonstration and you will receive a lot of individual guidance and advice in frequent discussions with your lecturer together with more formal feedback.  You will also learn from the environment that you will be in and your colleagues who will probably have very different skill sets to you.

How will I be assessed?

The Personal Investigation counts for 60% of your A-level: This is a long coursework unit that is started during the first year and concluded during the second year.
The Externally Set Assignment accounts for the remaining 40% and is set by the examining body (Eduqas). You will start your preparation for this in February of the second year and produce your final work in 15 hours (normally three days) under controlled conditions in the studio/workshop.

Work is normally presented in an A3  sketchbook using a combination of digital and traditional presentation techniques. 3D work is usually in the form of test pieces, experiments, models and final outcomes.

Any trips?

Yes, you will have the opportunity to visit major museums and galleries in this country. You are likely to visit London at least once. We also take advantage of local exhibitions, opportunities and events, for example we visited Westonbirt Arboretum to see the award winning architecture and the inspirational landscape that has been created.  In addition, we usually offer a residential trip.

You will also be offered visits to universities/career fairs through the tutorial programme

Are there any costs involved?

This is a brief summary of costs.

  • You will need to purchase a "starter pack" (Around £30.00)
  • There is an annual "workshop fee" of £40.00 to cover the cost of wood, metals plastics, ceramics and other materials that you will use.
  • You may be asked for additional payment if you use large quantities of materials or very expensive ones.
  • Trips are an additional cost.
  • A PC/laptop that will cope with Design software such as Fusion 360 is a valuable asset but not a requirement.

For full details follow the link below. If you have difficulty with this link please E-mail

Cirencester College runs a generous Bursary Scheme which will subsidise some of these costs.


Is there a written exam?

No, however, you still need to be good at English to write your extended written essay and other research, analysis, annotations and evaluations.

Will a lot be done on computers?

You can use CAD to explore and communicate ideas but most ideas will be explored with traditional sketching. You will have access to a laser cutter and a 3D printer, however the emphasis in this course is on craft skills. This course is not about 3D computer modelling.

Can I choose my own project?

At the start of the course, you will work from some set starting points but you will be able to develop your own personal direction from these. During the personal investigation you can choose your own theme from which to work and produce any type of 3D design outcome

Do I need to be good at drawing?

Yes. This is an art-based course and drawing is essential for recording observations, exploring ideas and communicating designs. The ability to draw is essential.

Will it be like my GCSE/BTEC course?

That of course depends on what course you have studied at school. GCSE/BTEC courses vary immensely in content and nature and individual teachers all have slightly different approaches.

If you have studied Art and Design you will find some parts very similar but the use of tools and making processes will probably be new to you.

If you have studied "Resistant Materials" the workshop processes will be similar but the emphasis on sketching, drawing and developing creative ideas will be quite different.

If you have studied "Product Design" you will find the artistic aspects new but the overall process will be similar.

If you have studied "Graphics" you will probably find the challenge of working in 3 dimensions quite hard but the overall design process is similar.

If you have studied 3D design  (usually a BTEC) you should find that this course is fairly similar but obviously at a higher level.

Can I do three Art and Design based subjects?

It is not recommended that you choose three creative (Art and Design) subjects but in rare cases it is appropriate.  If you intend to study any three of the following subjects:  Photography, Fine Art, Textiles Graphics and 3D Design you need to be aware of the following points

  •   You should be an exceptionally motivated and talented student and anticipate a career in the creative industry.
  •   It is not generally advisable to study three creative courses but is not prohibited.
  •   The workload will be extremely high with similar or identical pressure points in all courses.
  •   These courses share a specification (currently from EDUQAS/WJEC) and therefore have a common marks scheme and share an Externally Assessed Assignment paper.
  •   This could limit your career progression because your programme of study is highly focused on creative subjects and would not generally be suitable for admission to an academic Degree course.
  •   You should consider the vocational Art and Design course.
  •   You will need to see one of the Art and Design team at or before enrolment and you will need evidence of your creativity. (Digital portfolio)

Available As

A Level
[56 UCAS pts. available]

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What can I do after I have taken this course?

Available As

A Level
[56 UCAS pts. available]

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See examples of creativeness from 3D Design A-level students

View the Online Gallery