Computer Science A-level

Do you want to know how computers really work and run your software? Do you want to learn how to write applications or improve your programming skills? Do you like solving problems? If you do, then A-Level Computer Science is for you. Through theoretical analysis and hands-on practical work, you will learn the core principles of computing and programming and how to apply them. You don’t need to have taken GCSE Computer Science to do this A-level, but good mathematical and logical skills are essential.

Awarding Body

Available As

A Level

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What will I study?

The A Level Computer Science course is divided up into three topics

  • Programming: This topic looks at both the theory of programming and how to program in C#

    • Fundamentals of programming 
    • Fundamentals of data structures
      • including Stacks, Queues, Trees and Graphs
    • Fundamentals of algorithms
      • including standard algorithms for searching, sorting and traversing Trees and Graphs
    • Theory of computation
      • including Set theory, Regular languages and expressions, Finite State Machines and the Turing Machine

 

  • Computing Fundamentals: This topic looks at the core fundamentals of computer science.

    • Fundamentals of data representation
    • Fundamentals of computer systems
    • Fundamentals of computer organisation and architecture
      • including Assembly language
    • Consequences of uses of computing
    • Fundamentals of communication and networking
      • including the Internet
    • Fundamentals of databases
      • including normalisation and SQL
    • Big Data
    • Fundamentals of functional programming
      • Haskell

 

  • Project: The non-exam assessment enables you to use the knowledge and skills gained through the course to solve or investigate a practical problem. You will be expected to follow a systematic approach to problem solving. This project is a substantial piece of work, requiring analysis and design over an extended period of time, which is organised, evaluated and presented in a report.

How will I learn?

You will be taught how to write programmes in C# and, in the second year we will extend that to include object oriented programming techniques.

You will practice what you have learnt by creating solutions to lots of different programming problems.

You will learn the fundamental ideas behind how computers process your instructions, store your data and communicate with other devices. You will be assessed through practical programming exercises, end-of-unit tests, mock exams and homework.

How will I be assessed?

A Level Computer Science

  • Paper One
    • This paper covers the programming topic
    • It is assess by an on-screen programming exam, 2.5 hours, worth 40% of your A Level
    • You will be given a substantial piece of C# code - the Skeleton - before the exam and will be asked to write programs, adapt and extend the Skeleton code and test your programs during this exam
  • Paper Two
    • This paper covers the Computing Fundamentals topic
    • It is assessed as a written theory exam, 2.5 hours, worth 40% of your A Level
  • Project
    • Coursework, worth 20% of your A Level

Are there any extra costs?

Students need to buy Workbooks which follow the course.  These amount to only a few pounds in total.

Are there any specific entry requirements?

GCSE Maths Grade 6

GCSE Computer Science is not a requirement for studying the A Level, but if you have taken GCSE Computer Science you will need to achieve at least a grade 4

What enrichment activities are offered?

Students are given the chance to enter the annual National Cipher Challenge run by the University of Southampton in conjuction with IBM, GCHQ, Trinity College Cambridge, BCS, Netcraft and IO.

Careers Information

FAQs

Do I need to have done GCSE Computing?

No – If you have GCSE Computing, the A Level builds on the work you have done in GCSE.  However, if you have not taken the GCSE Computing course then we will teach you everything you need to know.

If you have GCSE Computing then you will need to achieve at least a grade 4.

Will we be building computers on this course?

No – You will be learning how computers work at a low level rather than how to install hardware. However you will be doing lots of practical programming.