Smart Product Design and Manufacture QAN 603/1126/5

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 sector 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 Diploma in Smart Product Design and Manufacture equates to a full A-Level subject with a minimum of 300 Guided Learning Hours (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.

The Diploma is intended for learners who are seeking A-Level equivalent qualifications which will prepare them for further study in a variety of Design, Technology and Engineering related undergraduate degrees. In particular learners interested in studying Industrial Product Design, Engineering and its sub-specialisms including Electrical, Electronic and Mechanical, Computing, Art and Design, and Architecture, will find the Diploma will give them a modern, relevant and technically rigorous set of skills and strengths to build on when they move to university.

Further, the wide range of cross-curricular STEM based knowledge and competencies learnt through SPDM make it suitable as a foundation for a broad range of STEM degrees such as Medicine, Mathematics, and Computing. 

Complementary subjects to study alongside the Level 3 Diploma include A-Levels or equivalent qualifications in Mathematics, Physics, Sciences (including Computer Science), Engineering and Art. It is envisaged that learners taking the Level 3 Diploma would choose 2 or 3 other A-Level or equivalent courses to run alongside the Diploma.

The Level 3 Diploma is equally a good option for learners who are considering vocational routes into design, engineering, IT and creative industries. 

Through the skills and project work demonstrated through SPDM coursework and portfolios learners show appropriate foundational skills and knowledge relevant to companies applying digital design and manufacturing tools and processes.

The Level 3 Diploma is an Applied General course. It is both technically challenging and academically rigorous. Hence learners and parents can be assured that it both develops practical and relevant real world skills, and, develops and reinforces traditional academic capabilities, ready for both modern working environments and further education.
There is also a Level 3 Certificate in Smart Product Design and Manufacture which equates to an AS-Level (or half an A-Level) with minimum 180 GLHs. Please click on this link to see more details of the Certificate.

What does this qualification cover?

For the SPDM Level 3 Diploma, learners undertake 5 mandatory units in order to make up the minimum 300 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 is available in the full course handbook which can be download at this link:

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.
Introduction to 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.
Managing Smart Product Development

60 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.
Smart Product Design
6 60 hours Learners will understand how to define a product that uses smart technology.  They will design, develop and test that product and produce a orking protype.
Smart Product Manufacture
6 60 hours Learners will investigate what is required to mass produce products they design and develop.  They will work out how their design impacts the process of production and manufature.  They will develop the skills, knowledge and understanding to be able to make a successful launch into the market place.


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




Letter of Support


87723e7fLetter of Support

Letter of Support





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