Computer Science is about computation, and in particular, about solving problems using computers. This means developing the skills needed to program computers and develop algorithms. Combining problem solving with knowledge of hardware, computer scientists can help solve real world problems in just about all areas of life. Over the two years of this highly practical course you will learn to use programming languages to design and write algorithms which solve problems, leading on to a systems development project of your own choosing for real users. You can also expect to gain an understanding of the operation of hardware under the control of software, and study existing solutions in areas such as communications, encryption and control systems.
Component 01 – Computer systems – this component will introduce you to the internal workings of the Central Processing Unit (CPU), the exchanging of data, and also looks at software development, data types and legal and ethical issues.
• The characteristics of contemporary processors, input, output and storage devices
• Software and software development
• Exchanging data (How data is exchanged between different systems)
• Data types, data structures and algorithms
• Legal, moral, cultural and ethical issues.
Component 02 – Content of Algorithms and programming – you will understand what is meant by computational thinking, and understand the benefits of applying computational thinking to solving a wide variety of problems.
• Elements of computational thinking
• Problem solving and programming
Component 03 – Programming project – you will analyse, design, develop, test, evaluate and document a program written in a suitable programming language for real users.
This is a two-year, linear course; the exams will take place at the end of the course.
Examination – two exams, each of 2 hours 30 mins (80%) – components 1 and 2.
Coursework – system development project (20%) – component 3.
Examining Board – OCR.
Special Entry Requirements
Grade 6 or better at GCSE Mathematics. If you have taken a Computer Science GCSE you must have achieved at least grade 4 (C). In addition, standard A level entry requirements apply.
Students may study this course in combination with Information Technology. However, before starting the course, students are strongly advised to check how this may affect their future application to Higher Education.
Career and Progression Opportunities
This A level will give you a significant advantage if you decide to read Computer Science or a related degree at university. It is also a good base for several other degree areas such as Engineering or Digital Media, where the ability to program will be very useful. Some universities also require a good grade in a Mathematical A level in order to progress onto their Computer Science courses.
A significant coursework project is tackled in Year 13 and this contributes 20% towards the final A Level grade. The whole course is very practical in nature, so you will find that you are using computers in most lessons.
Computing is a practical subject and the lessons reflect this. A variety of teaching methods will be used to deliver the theory components, but the majority of the lessons are in computer labs. The College’s virtual learning environment (Moodle) is used extensively to provide online resources.
We hope to invite a number of guest speakers from the world of industry and higher education.
There are no major extra costs. Students can download and install the same programming environments we use on the course at no cost.
Complementary Subjects or Enrichment Courses
Computer Science is a good support for a wide range of different Advanced subjects, but popular combinations include Maths and Sciences.
This information is correct for September 2019 entry.