Smart Product Design and Manufacture QAN 60187736

Purpose Statement

The following page and links are designed as a purpose statement for this qualification.  The page will give information to students, parents, employers and others interested in the qualification as to its purpose and key characteristics.  The page will also offer any endorsements for the qualification.

Smart Product Design and Manufacture (SPDM) qualifications offer teachers and learners the opportunity to develop a range of skills and knowledge fundamental to successful engagement in the professional aspects of the product design, engineering and manufacturing sectors of industry. The qualifications enable coverage of a wide range of general knowledge, understanding and competencies related to the competencies identified by employers in the industry.

The Level 3 Certificate equates to an AS-Level (or half an A-Level) with minimum 180 GLHs. 

Who is the qualification for?

This qualification is a general purpose course for post 16 students studying at sixth-form, college or vocational settings.

There are several reasons why learners would choose to study the Level 3 Certificate in Smart Product Design and Manufacture. 

Firstly, for learners who are focused on traditional academic STEM pathways, the Certificate gives them a distinct and valuable toolset with which to apply their academic learning in practical industrial and commercial settings. The certificate covers several key focus areas of modern product development and manufacturing.

Secondly, the Certificate is intended for learners interested in scientific disciplines, engineering or technology who want to ensure a broader understanding of modern products and applications in digital products and manufacturing. Hence taking the Certificate enables the learner to consider and pursue a broader range of careers in their chosen fields.

Thirdly, a key aspect of SPDM enables learners to have an insight to the ideation to product development process, hence it complements traditional art and design study by providing concrete ways to convert creativity into viable products.

We anticipate learners will study the SPDM Level 3 Certificate alongside 3 A-Level or equivalent subjects. It is practical to complete this Certificate in the first year of sixth-form or college and hence learners will have built practical skills by successfully completing a project before the time they make university applications. This has the distinct advantage that learners will be able to demonstrate project research, development and delivery skills to prospective universities.

There is also a Level 3 Diploma in Smart Product Design and Manufacture which equates to an A-Level with minimum 300 GLHs. Please click on this link to see more details of the Diploma.

Learners who wish to broaden their academic study with practical applications of modern technologies could also consider taking a Level 3 Award which is 60 GLHs. Learners choose one of the units available in the course handbook to study and complete. The Award will give learners understanding, knowledge and practice in one focus area of modern product development.

What does this qualification cover?

For the SPDM Level 3 Certificate, learners undertake 3 core units and must choose 1 further units from a set list in order to make up the minimum mandatory 180 GLHs required to pass coursework. After passing coursework, which is pass or fail, the learner can then be entered for an exam. It is the exam which differentiates the final grade (A*-E).

The full list of the units available, a breakdown of the assessment criteria, and sample examination paper are available in the course handbook which can be downloaded at this link: 

Level 3 Handbook

A summary of the course structure is as follows:

Credits GLH Notes
Computer Aided Design and Manufacture
6 60 hours This is a mandatory unit which allows students to explore such issues as digital design tools and processes involved in modern product development and manufacture.  They will design and test a range of products both visual and functional and test these digitally and through the use of modern prototyping facilities such as 3D printing.
Embedded Systems
6 60 hours This is the second mandatory unit and allows students to explore and investigate embedded systems that now predominate Smart products – products which sense and interact with users or its environment.  They will design, program and test embedded systems and designs using the latest industry standard platforms.  They will use these skills to develop an embedded system suitable for the market place.
Understanding a Brief

10 hours

This unit gives learners the opportunity to apply some of their knowledge and skills in solving a problem for a local organisation.  For example, some local manufacturing companies might be considering developing smart technologies and embedded systems to move into different markets.  Students will look at the objectives, design some requirements and look at the strengths and weaknesses of a potential design.
Optional Unit
5 – 6 50-60 hours Learners can take one optional unit from a large list of available ones to complement their areas of skill and interest and complete their major project. These units can complement other subject areas so they may extend their computing or IT subjects by looking at the Internet of Things; they might explore the impact of smart products for art based subjects or robotics for manufacturing.


The above coursework will constitute 30 marks towards the final grade.  The external examination will award the other 70 marks and the results will be graded A*-E.

Grade Coursework 30% Examination 70% Percentage of Total available marks needed
Pass E 30 20 50
D 30 25 55
C 30 30 60
B 30 40 70
A 30 45 75
A* 30 50 80

This broad and detailed knowledge base will serve them whether they decide to further their interest in a practical way through employment or apprenticeships, use the course to supplement their other Level 3 studies, or use it as a basis for further study at University level.  The qualification offers a good mix of academic rigour and practical knowledge and experience, as well as the chance to test this out with an actual company.

What could this qualification lead to?

This qualification will lead to employment in a broad range of creative and technology sectors including Industrial Design, Product Design, Engineering, Computing, Embedded Systems Computing, Interactive Design, Service Design, Interactive Graphics Design, CAD/CAM Design, Manufacturing, New Business Development, Project Management. 

The qualification is a good introduction to

The knowledge, skills and capabilities that under-pin applying digital technologies to cre­ate "intelligent" physical products. SPDM uses modern processes designed to exploit agile manufacturing technologies, and capabilities employed via the internet or via Smart electronic devices.


The following organisations have endorsed this qualification.

Trade Body










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