Designers play an important part in our daily lives. They determine the form and function of the products we use and transform ideas into drawings and plans for the creation of products that fulfil human needs and wants. Students also consider sustainability issues.

Students consider the consequences of product design choices, and develop skills to critically analyse existing products and develop their own creative solutions.

VCE Product Design and Technology offers students a range of career pathways in design in fields such as industrial, transport, service, interior and exhibition, engineering, fashion, furniture, jewellery, textile and ceramics, at both professional and vocational levels. Moreover, VCE Product Design and Technology informs sustainable behaviours and develops technical skills enabling students to present multiple solutions to everyday life situations. It contributes to developing creative problem solvers and project managers well-equipped to deal with the multidisciplinary nature of modern workplaces.

Units of Study

Unit 1:

Sustainable Product Redevelopment

This unit focuses on the analysis, modification and improvement of a product design with consideration of sustainability.

It is common for designers in Australia to use products from overseas as inspiration when redeveloping products for the domestic market. Sustainable redevelopment refers to designers and makers ensuring products serve social, economic and environmental needs. Generating economic growth for design and manufacturing in Australia can begin with redeveloping existing products so they have positive social and minimal environmental impact. In this unit students examine claims of sustainable practices by designers.

Students consider the sustainability of an existing product, such as the impact of sourcing materials, manufacture, distribution, use and likely disposal. They consider how a redeveloped product should attempt to solve a problem related to the original product. Where possible, materials and manufacturing processes used should be carefully selected to improve the overall sustainability of the redeveloped product.

In Area of Study 1 students consider the sustainability of an existing product and acknowledge the intellectual property (IP) rights of the original designer. Working drawings (also known as flats, trade sketches, assembly or technical drawings) are used to present the preferred design option.

In Area of Study 2, students produce a redeveloped product using tools, equipment, machines and materials, taking into account safety considerations. They compare their product with the original design and evaluate it against the needs and requirements outlined in their design brief.

Unit 2:

Collaborative Design

In this unit students work in teams to design and develop an item in a product range or contribute to the design, planning and production of a group product. They focus on factors including end-user/s’ needs and wants; function, purpose and context for product design; aesthetics; materials and sustainability; and the impact of these factors on a design solution. Teamwork encourages communication between students and mirrors professional design practice where designers often work within a multi-disciplinary team to develop solutions to design problems. Students also use digital technologies to facilitate teams to work collaboratively online.

In this unit students gain inspiration from an historical or a contemporary design movement or style and its defining factors such as ideological or technological change, philosophy or aesthetics.

In Area of Study 1, students work both individually and as members of a small design team to address a problem, need or opportunity and consider user-centred design factors. They design a product within a range, based on a theme, or a component of a group product. They research and refer to a chosen design style or movement. In Area of Study 2 the finished product is evaluated.

Unit 3:

Applying The Product Design Process

In this unit students are engaged in the design and development of a product that addresses a personal, local, or global problem (such as humanitarian issues), or that meets the needs and wants of a potential end-user/s. The product is developed through a design process and is influenced by a range of factors including the purpose, function and context of the product; user-centred design; innovation and creativity; design elements and principles; sustainability concerns; economic limitations; legal responsibilities; material characteristics and properties; and technology.

Design and product development and manufacture occur in a range of settings. An industrial setting provides a marked contrast to that of a one-off situation in a small cottage industry or a school setting. Although a product design process may vary in complexity or order, it is central to all of these situations regardless of the scale or context. This unit examines different settings and takes students through the product design process as they design for an end-user/s. Students identify methods which could be used in a low-volume or mass/high-volume production setting to manufacture a similar product to their design.

In the initial stage of the product design process a design brief is prepared, outlining the context or situation around the design problem and describing the needs and requirements in the form of constraints or considerations.

In Area of Study 1, students examine how a design brief addresses particular product design factors and how evaluation criteria are developed from the constraints and considerations in the brief. They develop an understanding of techniques in using the design brief as a springboard to direct research and design activities.

In Area of Study 2, students examine how a range of factors, including new and emerging digital technologies, influence the design and development of products within industrial manufacturing settings. They consider issues associated with obsolescence and sustainability models.

In Area of Study 3, students commence the application of the product design process for a product design for an end-user/s, including writing an individual design brief and criteria that will be used to evaluate the product in Unit 4.

Unit 4:

Product development and evaluation

In this unit students engage with an end-user/s to gain feedback throughout the process of production. Students make comparisons between similar products to help evaluate the success of a product in relation to a range of product design factors. The environmental, economic and social impact of products throughout their life cycle can be analysed and evaluated with reference to the product design factors.

In Area of Study 1, students use comparative analysis and evaluation methods to make judgments about commercial product design and development.

In Area of Study 2, students continue to develop and safely manufacture the product designed in Unit 3, Outcome 3, using materials, tools, equipment and machines, and record and monitor the production processes and modifications to the production plan and product.

In Area of Study 3, students evaluate the quality of their product with reference to criteria and end-user/s’ feedback. Students make judgments about possible improvements. They produce relevant user instructions or care labels that highlight the product’s features for an end-user/s.

Example pathways
  • Industrial Industries
  • Transport Industries
  • Service Industries
  • Interior and exhibition
  • Engineering
  • Fashion Industries
  • Furniture
  • Jewellery
  • Textiles
  • Ceramics
  • Education

This is a guide only, please see the careers team for pathway planning advice.


There are no prerequisites for entry to Units 1, 2 and 3. Students must undertake Unit 3 and Unit 4 as a sequence.

Unit 3 and 4 Assessment

Percentage contributions to the study score in VCE Product Design and Technology are as follows:

  • Units 3 and 4 School-assessed Coursework: 20 per cent.
  • Units 3 and 4 School-assessed Task: 50 per cent.
  • End-of-year examination: 30 per cent

This subject requires the completion of a folio as part of assessment.