Computer Science A-Level

    Qualification Level: GCE Advanced Level

    Qualification Duration: 2 years

    Exam Board: AQA

    Intro: Computer Science is the study of computers and computational systems. Knowing how to program is essential to the study of computer science but it is only one element of the field. Computer scientists design and analyse algorithms to solve programs and study the performance of computer hardware and software. The problems that computer scientists encounter range from the abstract-- determining what problems can be solved with computers and the complexity of the algorithms that solve them – to the tangible – designing applications that perform well on handheld devices, that are easy to use, and that uphold security measures. This is why computer science is a key skill that spans across many subjects such as Mathematics, Science and Business and Economics to name a few.

    Subject Content:

    1. Fundamentals of programming, data structures and algorithms
    2. Theory of Computation
    3. Fundamentals of data representation, computer systems and computer architecture
    4. Consequences of the uses of Computing
    5. Fundamentals of Communications and Networking including the internet and network security
    6. The theory of databases and Big Data
    7. Functional Programming
    8. A systematic approach to problem solving including graph theory

    Assessment for these units will be carried out at the end of the two year course.

    Non Exam Assessment:

    This is an opportunity for you to choose a project and a programming language. You will be tasked with using the knowledge and skills that you have gained throughout year 1 of the course to solve or investigate a practical problem. Some of the problems that students have investigated are

    • A Minecraft Framework
    • Computerised Chess
    • The equilibrium problem (Chemistry)
    • Modelling a projectile

    Programming Language

    The programming element of the course is taught using VB.Net however the project can be done in any language and so far we have had students complete their projects in VB.Net, java, C, C++ and C#. If a student comes with strong knowledge of an A-level appropriate programming language this can always be accommodated.                 

    Assessment comprises two exams with a range of short and long answer questions as well as project which is referred to as the Non Exam Assessment (NEA). The examinations make up 80% of the final grade and the NEA, 20%.  An awareness of the application of computer science in the real world will be required as is the desire to solve problems and create programs.

    Trips and other costs:

    • Text books for each year are £32 and are available from Amazon. VB.Net can be downloaded to a windows computer to aid study at home for free.

    Career and further study:

    A Computer Science A level helps to prepare you for many courses at University and can also be the qualification that you need to secure a level 3 apprenticeship.  It is a highly academic subject that will help you to develop the problem solving and algorithmic skills needed in areas such as Mathematics, Science, Economics as well as, of course, Computer Science related areas. These may include courses such as Engineering, Computer Science, Software Engineering, Computer Graphics and Robotics. You will learn to work independently, creating algorithms, debugging programs and developing the study skills required to be successful post A-level.  Studying Computer Science will provide you with an excellent foundation for a wide range of careers.