The case study is an opportunity for you to show off your skills in conducting research, analysing the information, using the data to reach conclusions and present them in a clear and effective way.

Even though you will all be set the same context by the exam board, you will all need to do seperate case studies looking at different areas within that context, which means that it is unlikely that you will be able to share your information. For example, the case study context might be "Visual Communication". Your case study could look at the advertising campaign used by French Connection and the impact that it had on sales. Alternatively your case study could look at the effectiveness of signs provided for the evacuation of a building in an emergency. See what I mean? Both of these examples are clearly related to "Visual Communication" but the information unearthed by someone doing the first study is going to be of no use to someone doing the second.

So, challenge number one is that your friendly teacher is not going to be able to give help of a general nature. Shock, horror, but now that you're an AS level candidate you will be expected to do a lot of the work using your own initiative. Your teacher will certainly advise you as to whether you have chosen a suitable area to study but they can't and won't pick a title for you.

Challenge number two can be best demonstrated by referring to the above example. The study relating to the ad. campaign used by FCUK may sound like a load more fun than looking at emergency evacuation signs, but, of the two it is the latter that will be a lot easier to find information about.

It is vital that you have access to the system so that you can gain primary and secondary sources of information before starting the study. If you can't get hold of the information to help you carry out your case study, the quality of your case study will be seriously limited.

This year (2006-7) your case study context is “The Use of Systems within the Context of Retail ”. Below are some suggestions from the examination board:

  • Security systems to protect goods against theft, e.g. tagging of goods, systems used within
    changing rooms, and the use of security staff and CCTV.
  • Systems to ensure consumer protection and ensure quality in retail goods, e.g. systems of
    after-sales care, sales of goods legislation and consumer association product testing.
  • Communication systems e.g. signage systems used at retail venues. Systems used within large
    stores e.g. public address systems, computerised ordering systems etc.
  • Publicity, marketing and advertising systems for promotion of retail goods, e.g. graphical systems
    involved in the promotion of goods; the processes involved in managing and maximising the benefit of
    billboard advertising or newspaper/magazine advertisements.
  • Systems providing for the particular needs of different groups of people at retail venues,
    i.e. families, the elderly, the disabled, e.g. provision for families with young children and babies.
  • Systems for moving large amounts of retail goods around the premises for restocking shelves;
    lifting and carrying systems used in warehouses or shop floors.
  • Systems used for pricing goods and monitoring stock levels, e.g. systems used at checkouts,
    stock control and ordering systems; systems for dealing with out-of-date foods or unsold goods.
  • Systems to ensure the security, comfort and safety of staff and consumers in the retail
    environment; systems to design, provide and maintain staff uniforms and identification; protection
    systems for warehouse staff; systems to ensure the comfort and safety of staff and consumers when
    handling goods that may be heavy.
  • Systems to evacuate people from a retail outlet in difficult circumstances, e.g. emergency
    procedures in case of fire or any other serious incident.
  • Systems for the maintenance of retail premises, e.g. organisational systems, management of the
    environment such as cleaning and control of quality and temperature of the air.
  • Systems to ensure the security, comfort and personal safety in retail venues of staff and
    consumers, e.g. systems in place to ensure protection against fire; control of air temperature and
    lighting. Use of security guards to ensure safety of staff and consumers.


If we now look at the marking scheme I will give you the descriptors used by the exam board in italics and translate it for you as appropriate.

  "The System Case Study Report is marked out of 90 marks.
It should be a balance of written and graphic information presented in an A4 format. The report can be produced using ICT and other appropriate communication techniques. As a guide, the report should be approximately 2000 words, together with referenced research material. Assessment of the System Case Study focuses on the whole process pursued by the candidate, rather than on outcome alone.

1. System Choice, Objectives and Research Plan [18 marks]

Deadline for this section is 11th December 2006

1.1 System choice and nature of the system [6]

· select an appropriate and challenging system to study within the set context and time allowed;
· outline clearly the nature of the system and give a clear indication of how it fits within the wider context.

Guidance for candidates:

The suggested number of pages for this section is: 1
Ensure it is a system not a product.
Set the scene and introduce the topic to the reader.
Explain why the system is appropriate, including access to the system.
Explain why the system is challenging.
Provide a system diagram including any sub-systems.
State the function or purpose of the system.
Provide details of the wider context.

1.2 Objectives and sources of information [9]

· present detailed information about the objectives of the study with a detailed analysis of the main elements in the system and the criteria that it fulfils;
· identify clearly, several sources of primary and secondary information; why they are important to the objectives of the study and appropriate specific techniques for obtaining this information.

Guidance for candidates:
The suggested number of pages for this section is: 2
Give the aim and value of the study and to whom.
State the expected findings and end result of the study.
List the objectives – specific issues to be addressed.
Identify the key elements of the system, the crucial parts.
Give details of the function of the system and sub systems.
Identify key factors to use to assess the effectiveness of the system.
Give details of specific information required and the sources of this information.
State whether the sources are primary or secondary, their importance, and the specific research

1.3 Research plan [3]

· produce a detailed plan for obtaining relevant information with an indication of timescale.

Guidance for candidates:
The suggested number of pages for this section is: 1
Give a stage-by-stage plan for gathering the information.
Possibly present the plan using a flow chart or table.
Include timescales and space for recording progress.

2. Research and Recording of Information [27 marks]

2.1 Range of information [12]

· obtain a wide range of relevant information relating to the chosen system from primary and secondary sources, presenting detailed evidence of these sources in a bibliography.

Guidance for candidates:
The suggested number of pages for this section is: 7
NB Complete with reference to Section 2.3
Ensure first hand contact with the system or those involved with the system.
Use primary and secondary sources.
Include a Bibliography – a list of sources including books, people, websites…
Clearly indicate what you have done yourself and what others have provided for you.
Obtain a range of viewpoints that will be needed to assess the effectiveness of the system.
Information should be relevant, specific, detailed, and include technical aspects.

2.2 Evaluation of progress [3]

· evaluate and record progress thoroughly, adapting the original plan if necessary to meet new challenges.

Guidance for candidates:
The suggested number of pages for this section is: 0.5
Record your progress in obtaining the information required.
Refer to the original Research Plan (1.3).
State what worked well – or did not work well – and why.
List gaps in the information and how they will be filled.
List changes to original Research Plan.

2.3 Editing of information [12]

· provide evidence of creative editing, summarising, annotating and referencing of information, suitable for later analysis.

Guidance for candidates:
The suggested number of pages for this section is: 0.5
NB This refers to information recorded in Section 2.1 only
Summarise the editing that has been carried out in Section 2.1.
Include page numbers.
Annotate photographs and drawings.
Select, sort and record relevant information logically.
Consider the target audience of the final ‘report’.
Use charts, diagrams and visual material for easy reference.
Use and cross-reference to an Appendix for supporting documentation.
Integrate drawings and photographs in the body of the text.

3. Analysis of information and conclusions [24 marks]

3.1 Analysis of information [9]

· provide detailed and perceptive analysis of edited research material and key issues, such as management, quality assurance and control.

Guidance for candidates:
The suggested number of pages for this section is: 2
Compare information and results from different sources.
Use charts, graphs and diagrams to contrast and compare.
Analyse (break down) the key issues and key elements of the system looked at.
Discuss and give your opinion on information gained.

3.2 Analysis of system [6]

· identify in detail the system and any sub-system with reference to the original objectives.
Guidance for candidates:

The suggested number of pages for this section is: 2
Identify the effectiveness of the system and any sub systems – based on the information gained.
Identify aspects of the system that work or do not work well.
Use annotated diagrams to refer to specific parts of the system.
Use the objectives stated in 1.2 as the framework for comments.
Comment on and discuss specific and technical details.
Include the candidate’s own opinion integrated with expert opinion.

3.3 Conclusions [9]
· present clear and detailed conclusions, identifying the strengths and weaknesses of the system studied.

Guidance for candidates:
The suggested number of pages for this section is: 1
Describe specific strengths and weaknesses that will form the basis for proposals.
Identify specific strong aspects that need no improvement.
Identify specific weak aspects that are in need of improvement.
Support your conclusions with diagrams and photographs as appropriate.

4. Proposals and Case Study Evaluation [15 marks]

4.1 Proposals [12]

· present creative and innovative proposals, based on the research data, of realistic and detailed ways in which the system studied might be improved, demonstrating clearly how the system is already so effective.

Guidance for candidates:
The suggested number of pages for this section is: 2
Follow on directly from the conclusions.
Suggest realistic ways in which any weak aspects identified could be improved or demonstrate
how the system is already effective.
Present one or two creative and innovative proposals in fuller detail rather than several proposals
with little detail.
Include technical or component details, time and cost implications.
Show details using annotated photographs, diagrams, sketches.
Obtain comments on feasibility from an ‘expert’.
Show how the proposals will make the system more effective.

4.2 Case study evaluation [3]

· a detailed and effective evaluation of the case study, identifying several aspects that could be improved in future work.

Guidance for candidates:
The suggested number of pages for this section is: 1
Comment on the effectiveness of the study.
State aspects of the study that could have been done better.
Refer to specific sources of information and specific study sections.
Comment on your success in meeting your objectives for the study.

5. Quality of Written and Graphical Communication [6 marks]

5.1 Quality of written and graphical communication [6]

· present relevant information and arguments in a clear and concise manner, using appropriate technical phrases and high quality written communication skills;
· demonstrate creative use of a variety of appropriate communication techniques, including ICT, to produce a visually interesting report.

Guidance for candidates:
The suggested number of pages for this section is: 0
Key words in the criteria: concise, clear, relevant, variety, appropriate, creative, use of ICT.

NB 5.1 Quality of written and graphical communication is assessed in all sections of the study.

Download Case Study Booklet