Computer science is a really engaging subject that frequently challenges you in many different ways. Through learning theory and completing practical tasks
you develop a deeper understanding of how computers work and it makes me excited to think about what opportunities I have for the future given the growing
opportunities in the global computing industry.

Blessing Olufemi

Blessing Olufemi

Course Description

Students who study Computer Science will be challenged and inspired to apply the knowledge they gain with the creative and technical skills that they acquire. The qualification will be focused on programming and computational thinking and will build on the knowledge base acquired on the GCSE course. The AS course will look at computing principles, algorithms, programming, examining operating systems and data structures.

Entry Requirements

Achieve 5 or more standard GCSE passes or higher (grade 4 or higher).

Achieving a grade 6 or higher in GCSE Mathematics is desirable.

If a student is applying for a course in a subject that they have studied at GCSE it is expected that a student would have achieved at least a standard pass (grade 4) in this subject.

Course Content

Component 1 – Computing Principles
This component will introduce students to the internal workings of the Central Processing Unit (CPU), CSS/JavaScript and will also look at software  development, data types and legal and ethical issues. It will also offer the opportunity for students to analyse and design algorithms, and to study different types of software together with the methodologies that are used to develop them. This component involves advanced mathematics, including the representation and normalisation of floating point numbers, the use of sign and magnitude, and the use of two’s complement to represent numbers in binary.

Component 2 – Algorithms and Problem Solving
This component will incorporate and build on the knowledge and understanding gained in component 1. In addition, you will study:

  • What is meant by computational thinking
  • The benefits of applying computational thinking to solving a wide variety of problems
  • The principles of solving problems by computational methods
  • Using algorithms to describe problems
  • Analysing a problem by identifying its component parts

This component focuses heavily on the reading and writing of complex algorithms including Dijkstra’s shortest path algorithm and the A* algorithm.

Component 3 – Programming project
Students will be expected to analyse, design, develop, test, evaluate and document a program written in a suitable programming language. The underlying approach to the project is to apply the principles of computational thinking to a practical coding problem. Students are expected to apply appropriate principles from an agile development approach to the project development. This project is independent meaning students will need to debug their program and spend time focused on the development of a complex piece of software.

Assessment

Component 1 – Computer Systems:
Written exam, 2 hours 30 minutes (140 marks),
40% of A Level.

Component 2 – Algorithms and Problem Solving:
Written exam, 2 hours 30 minutes (140 marks),
40% of A Level.

Component 3 – Programming Project:
20% Coursework.
Solve a problem with a solution created in any of the following languages: C#, Visual Basic and PHP.

Future Opportunities

Computer Science opens the door to a wide range of careers both within specialist IT companies and companies who use computers in industry, commerce, government service and the universities. Roles span technical innovation, management, analysis, consultancy, training and research. Jobs such as web designers, engineers and software developers all rely on a sound knowledge of Computer Science. It is also a highly regarded subject when it comes to entry for competitive
places at higher education institutions.