This subject is linear with 80% examinations (x2 written exams) at the end of the two year course and a 20% programming project as part of the course work.
Computing is about Programming and the fundamentals of how a computer system works. It is an academic course with practical and technical elements that demand a good level of problem solving skills, programming skills, mathematical skills and logical reasoning and it also has a substantial amount of examined Computer Science theory. We recommend you have studied Computer Science at GCSE and/or are programming in your spare time to ensure you have the base skill set ready to study at A Level successfully in this subject. At least 10% of the assessment will test your ability to use elements of mathematics, which are applicable to Computer Science. Your mathematical skills need to be at a Level 6 for university progression (some universities with accept a Level 5 but you will be restricted as to which universities you can apply to) and we strongly recommend that you take A Level Mathematics alongside A Level Computer Science.
A Level Computer Science IS NOT an extension of BTEC ICT, CIDA/DIDA or OCR Nationals in ICT or Digital Information Technology. Computer Science requires you to be able to program and problem solve. As with any A Level subject, it involves hard work and perseverance, but it also has great rewards.
The assessment objectives and aims of the course are:
1. learn and develop an understanding of and ability to apply the fundamental principles and concepts of computer science including; abstraction, decomposition, logic, algorithms and data representation
2. learn and develop the ability to analyse problems in computational terms through practical experience of solving such problems including writing programs to do so
3. learn and develop the capacity for thinking creatively, innovatively, analytically, logically and critically
4. learn and develop the capacity to see relationships between different aspects of computer science
5. learn and develop mathematical skills
6. learn and develop the ability to articulate the individual (moral), social (ethical), legal and cultural opportunities and risks of digital technology.
The specification is assessed through two papers - Paper 1 and Paper 2 - and a piece of independent project work called a Non-Examined Assessment.
This paper tests your ability to answer theory and application questions on the following topics:
• The characteristics of contemporary processors, input, output and storage devices
• Software and software development
• Exchanging data
• Data types, data structures and algorithms
• Legal, moral, cultural and ethical issues
2 hours 30 minutes written exam (40%).
This paper tests your ability to write program constructs as pseudo code and have an understanding and application of data structures as well as the theoretical knowledge of Computer Science from the following topics:
• Elements of computational thinking
• Problem solving and programming
• Algorithms to solve problems and standard algorithms
2 hours 30 minutes written exam (40%)
NEA (Non Examined Assessment):
This is fundamentally a Computer Project. The NEA assesses your ability to create a programmed solution to a problem or investigation. You document the development life cycle and record it under the following sections:
This module accounts for 20% of the total A Level marks and is assessed internally as coursework. This is an independent piece of work and you need to commit yourself to developing your programming skills and project in your free timetable slots and as part of your homework. It is recommended that you DO NOT study another course work subject alongside Computer Science A level due to the commitment and time required to complete your Computer Science course work and development of your programming skills.
The College gives priority to its 11 partner schools. Places are offered to other applicants on a competitive basis.
All prospective students will be required to achieve a minimum of grade 4 in GCSE English Language and GCSE Mathematics and a minimum of grade 6 in three GCSE subjects.
Students wishing to study Computer Science should also achieve a minimum of Grade 6 in GCSE Mathematics along with coding/programming experience, or Grade 6 in GCSE Mathematics and GCSE Computer Science. We strongly recommend that students take A Level Mathematics alongside this subject as 10% of examination tests mathematical ability.