SDA assessment

What do I need to do to gain the SDA?

  • Show an understanding that there are issues of sustainability in all designing and making activities
  • Show the ability to translate that understanding into practice in A2 work.
  • Successful completion of A2 level would lead to SDA Part 2.
  • ensure that your product meets the needs of your client as expressed in your original specification



    The overall aim of the assessment criteria is to enable students to show an understanding that there are issues of sustainability in all designing and making activities. They should show this throughout the different elements of their design folder.

    Teachers can use the criteria for continuous assessment of students’ work. They also provide a checklist for students. However, it must be remembered that sustainability issues are only ONE part of exam board criteria and that those criteria offer students far more opportunity for scoring marks.

    In order to receive an SDA Part 2 the student must show evidence of having met the compulsory criteria (in bold) as well as five of the other criteria.

    N.B. The A2 level criteria are intended to show a progression from AS, indicating a broader and higher level of understanding of sustainability.

    The first box is intended for students to record where, in their folder, they meet the criteria. The second is intended for teachers to use to verify that the criterion has been met.


    F1. Has shown an understanding of the need to consider whether the product SHOULD be made at all (e.g. has asked whether we could do without the product, or asked why we are making it?)

    F2. When a decision to make a product has been made, has shown an understanding that the three main dimensions of sustainability should be considered in the designing and making processes (e.g. indicates concern about environmental, social and economic issues as well as fitness for purpose, aesthetics etc.)

    F3. Shows an understanding that all issues of sustainability are moral issues. (e.g. shows that a designing and making decision such as whether or not to use a renewable source of energy is a moral judgement as well as an environmental one).


    A1. Includes a range of sources of information, including the work of other designers, about how environmental, economic and social/cultural issues relate to the design context (e.g. evidence of research into how product/s may have short or long term repercussions for the environment, for social/cultural life and for people’s lives in the UK and other parts of the world).

    A2. Presents an analysis of the information showing opportunities and constraints for addressing environmental, economic and social/cultural issues within their designing (e.g. shows there are social/cultural implications in mass production manufacturing, potential financial costs in sustainability solutions).

    A3. Investigates the sustainability requirements of the client, discussing the social, economic and environmental impacts of their activities in sourcing materials, use of the product and ultimate disposal (e.g. asks client if they wish to use recycled materials where practicable).


    D1. Develops a specification/brief that includes relevant criteria for the development of a design solution that addresses all three aspects of sustainability at all relevant stages of a product’s life cycle (e.g. specifies that the product manufacture should use renewable energy or material sources wherever possible, considers the employment repercussions of the manufacturing processes, understands that waste disposal has social implications).

    D2. The specification shows an understanding of the complexity and inter-relatedness of design decisions, especially where sustainability is concerned. (e.g. shows evidence of understanding that tackling a single sustainability issue such as reducing the thickness of a material may have implications for other environmental factors, e.g. the durability of the product or for a social issue, e.g. may lose a cultural tradition, or have economic results e.g. result in job losses).

    D3. Shows evidence of using sustainability design tools in evaluating relevant
    criteria for developing a design solution (e.g. uses the Design Abacus, or the Eco-design Web or Eco-indicator).


    G1. Considers the three main dimensions of sustainability in their design ideas (e.g.
    shows evidence of having asked questions or completed research about environmental, economic and social/cultural issues).

    G2. Generates ideas that build towards a proposal which meets the previously identified specification with particular reference to sustainability (e.g. shows how a proposed solution may have maintained a social/cultural tradition).

    G3. Seeks information using the expertise of a client or SDA partner (e.g. considers ideas that involve genuine, real-life needs).

    G4. Researches products that use sustainable ideas in their design and
    manufacture (e.g. shows evidence of research on website, e.g., or from SDA references).


    C1. Experiments with different materials and considers the potential for reducing,
    reusing or recycling the materials or components chosen at all stages of the product’s life cycle (e.g. tries to ensure the least possible quantity of material
    is used in packaging, ensures that component parts can be disassembled and re-used where possible).

    C2. Provides evidence of objective evaluation that the sustainability ideas generated, including the requirements of the client, have been incorporated into design proposals (i.e. show that ideas generated in G2/3 are incorporated into proposals).

    C3. Shows an understanding that the materials, energy, equipment, skills and techniques needed in product manufacture are appropriate to the context for which it is intended (e.g. gives evidence that local skills and equipment available have been investigated to ensure it can be made in the locality for which it is intended).


    P1. Shows an awareness of the three main dimensions of sustainability in planning manufacture at an appropriate scale of production (e.g. ensures that product components can be easily disassembled at end of life, ensures traditional skills are not lost, ensures production methods are safe and appropriate).

    P2. Demonstrates a willingness to modify the original design, where appropriate,
    to include methods that would improve an aspect of the product’s sustainability or its appropriateness for the context (e.g. includes a method of filtering and re-using water in the manufacturing process, takes account of the lack of electrical power in the area of manufacture).


    M1. Shows how sustainability decisions made earlier have been incorporated into the manufacture of the product (e.g. shows that the amount of waste material has been reduced to a minimum).


    T1. Gains a thorough objective evaluation of the finished product against the specification (D1), including the client’s sustainability requirements (e.g. gives clear evidence of comparing the product against the specification and of having sought feedback from the client or an SDA partner, or others with sustainability expertise).

    T2. Shows a willingness to modify the manufacturing process in the light of feedback on how it can be made more sustainable.


    SDA assessment
    SDA assessment criteria
    AS assessment criteria
    OCR AS Product Study assessment criteria
    A2 assessment criteria
    An example of A2 Assessment