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Computer Science

Curriculum Leader: R. Rhodes

The A-Level Computer Science course is not about simply learning to use tools or just training in a programming language. Instead the emphasis is on computational thinking. Computational thinking is a kind of reasoning used by both humans and machines. This course, with its emphasis on abstract thinking, general problem-solving, algorithmic and mathematical reasoning, scientific and engineering-based thinking, is a good foundation for understanding future challenges as well as being able to apply these skills in a variety of scenarios.

A-Level Computer Science is an ideal route for learners looking for a traditional academic pathway. The course will give learners the programming skills, theoretical knowledge and problem solving ability to tackle a variety of computer science problems to help move them into a rewarding career in the computer science industry. The course will give learners skills in computer programming, mobile app development, object orientated programming, hardware & networking, data representation, problem solving, systems life cycle development and many other interesting areas. The majority of your work will be assessed by external examinations, mostly written with some on screen programming elements. However one unit will require an internally assessed project to be designed and created. This course will prepare you for a bright future in the computer science Industry.

Course Content


Year 12 Course Content (AS Level where applicable pre-reform)

In the AS specification there are two units. Paper 1 includes a practical, on-screen, examination which allows candidates to demonstrate their knowledge of the fundamentals of the subject, focusing on programming, data structures and algorithms through a problem-solving scenario using pre-release material.

Paper 2 focuses on the hardware and software aspects of computing and the social and economic consequences of computing, including; data representation, computer organisation and architecture, communication and networking.

1. Fundamentals of Programming.
2. Fundamentals of Data Structures.
3. Software Development.
4. Theory of Computation.
5. Fundamentals of Data Representation.
6. Fundamentals of Computer Systems.
7. Fundamentals of Computer Organisation and Architecture.
8. Consequences of Uses of Computing.
9. Fundamentals of Communication and Networking.

Year 13 Course Content (A Level where applicable pre-reform)

The A2 specification builds on the content of AS. Paper 3 focuses on computational thinking, what can be computed, programming and problem-solving including communication and networking as well as building in a systematic approach to problem solving.

Paper 4 builds on students’ knowledge of the hardware and software aspects of computing and the social and economic consequences of computing, as well as bringing in an understanding of ‘Big Data’, databases and functional programming.

The final unit, is an internally non-exam assessed project, with candidates required to complete a report on a computer-based programmed solution to a problem solving exercise of their choice. The areas covered in Year 2 (A2) are shown below.

10. Fundamentals of Programming.
11. Fundamentals of Data Structures.
12. Fundamentals of Algorithms.
13. Theory of Computation.
14. Fundamentals of Data Representation.
15. Fundamentals of Computer Systems.
16. Fundamentals of Computer Organisation and Architecture.
17. Consequences of Uses of Computing.
18. Fundamentals of Communication and Networking.
19. Fundamentals of Databases.
20. Big Data.
21. Fundamentals of Functional Programming.
22. Systematic Approach to Problem Solving.
23. Non-exam assessment – The Computing Practical Project.

Entry Requirements


The course is suitable for anyone with 5 GCSE’s at grade C or above, including Maths and/or Science at a grade B or above. The A level Computer Science course is suitable for students who have achieved at least grade ‘B’ in GCSE Computer Science/GCSE Computing. This will be a necessary requirement due to the advanced content of the course.

Assessment


The majority of units will be assessed via external examinations. This will include two written exams in each year of the course. For paper 1 (year 1) you will sit an on-screen exam involving both a written and programming component. Finally there will be an internally assessed project as part of year 2 to go alongside the final two written examinations.

Financial Information


There is no financial outlay as all materials are provided by the ICT department.

There is optional expense of a Trip to the Business & ICT Live Conference in Paris at a cost of £300.

The Academy will not charge for books, materials, equipment and instruction in connection with the National Curriculum or Statutory Religious Education taught at school, except where parents have indicated in advance their wish to purchase the product.

Exam Charging Policy:

–  Students with less than 85% attendance may, under the discretion of the Sixth Form Office, be asked to pay for their exam entry.

–  Exam resits that are made at the request of the post 16 students will be charged at full price.

–  When it is not possible to obtain a refund, full price will be charged to students for:

    –  the Summer Exam entry, if they withdraw from the subject after 20 April.
    –  non-attendance at an exam without good reason.

Future Opportunities


This Computer Science course has been designed for students who wish to go on to higher education courses or employment within the computing industry. It is widely recognised as a respected qualification by a wide range of universities and employers. Students can go on to study and start a career in; computer programming, artificial intelligence, security, networking, software and hardware management and many other areas. Student will gain the skills and knowledge needed to allow them to design and write their own programs and application software.

Further Information


This is our academic ICT qualification which is suitable for those seeking to take a University course. Students who are following a vocational pathway may find it more suitable to take our BTEC ICT qualification which does cover some of the aspects taught on this A level.