• Sixth Form IT

ICT and Computing

A LEVEL COMPUTER SCIENCE COURSE

What board do we do?

OCR, AS/A level code: AS (H046) A-level (H446)

The new AS and A levels in Computer Science are now "stand-alone" qualifications.

Marks gained at AS level do not contribute in any way to the final grade at A level.

What is Computer Science?

Computer Science is not just about computers. Rather it is the study of computation and information, and is a subject which involves you in the very make-up of the world, and over the last 30 years it has transformed the way we run our everyday lives. Computer scientists design new software, solve computing problems and develop different ways to use technology.

Computer systems are all pervasive, ranging from the embedded system controlling a fridge to international banking systems handling billions of secure transactions every day. Many of these systems are very familiar, yet we take for granted the computational systems that make things like mobile phones, cars, aeroplanes and medical equipment possible.

As a subject, Computer Science requires logical thinking, creativity and problem solving. Since computer systems are now so large and complex, they are inevitably developed by large teams, so working well with others is also crucial. A Computer Science A-Level gives you the chance to study exciting new technologies as well as learning skills which will make you highly employable.

Why study Computer Science

Almost every aspect of modern life is affected by computers from running our personal and social lives using the internet, mobile devices and home appliances, to complex programs that help businesses and public services run smoothly. Vast networked systems of computers control global communication, trade, finance and transportation, and much more besides.

Studying Computer Science will open a window for you to discover how computers work and enable you to design and determine what they do. You will need a good grasp of Maths and be willing to learn the language of code. Once you crack it though you will be able to deconstruct it and build up your own vocabulary.

You will also become a doctor of problem solving able to analyse and break down problems to find the most efficient and effective solutions. After a while you will apply these skills to your everyday life not just too technical problems.

What is covered in this course?

AS and A level students cover computer systems (01) and algorithms and programming (02). A level students also complete their own programming project (03 or 04). Throughout both courses students will receive intensive practical training in Visual Basic.Net and Python, high-level programming languages.

The A Level Computer Science course covers the following topics:

The characteristics of contemporary processors, input, output and storage devices

Software and software development

Programming

Exchanging data

Data types, data structures and algorithms

Legal, moral, cultural and ethical issues

Elements of computational thinking

Problem solving and programming

Algorithms to solve problems and standard algorithms

 

Unit 1: Computer systems (01)

The Central Processing Unit (CPU) is essentially the nerve centre of a computer through which all information flows. You will examine how this works and how processors differ; for example desk top computers and mobile devices. You will find out how to identify different data types, work out how programs integrate through data exchange and develop your own software using sophisticated coding languages.  Privacy, sharing, hacking and the environment are just some of the legal and ethical issues you will consider in the development of software and its applications in current and future technologies.

AS level written exam: 1hr 15mins, 70 marks, 50% of overall result.

A level written exam: 2hr 30mins, 140 marks, 40% of overall result.

 

Unit 2: Algorithms and programming (02)

In this unit you will become the doctor of problem solving by learning to recognise, analyse and break down ‘problems’ in order to create solutions that the computer will be able to understand. Here you will discover how invaluable algorithms are in helping you describe and resolve complex problems. Algorithms are step-by-step instructions that lead to a final outcome and they exist not only in a scientific context but all around us. Following a cake recipe is just a basic real life example of an algorithm. Algorithms are also responsible for an enormous range of complex activities from codebreaking to financial market management, predicting behaviour, crime prevention and social networking.

AS level written exam: 1hr 15mins, 70 marks, 50% of overall result.

A level written exam: 2hr 30mins, 140 marks, 40% of overall result.

 

Programming project component (03 or 04) (A Level Only)

Go ahead and wow the world with an amazingly innovative program that will change life as we know it using all the problem solving techniques, skills and programming language fluency you have perfected over the course. Now’s your chance to show how you can analyse problems, design and develop solutions and give yourself marks out of ten (evaluation).

Programming project (03 or 04)

A level non-exam assessment: 70 marks, 20% of overall result.

Which subjects combine well with Computer Science? 

Computer Science has strong connections to many other disciplines. Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Physics, and Economics combine well with Computer Science.

Students who wish to study for a Computer Science degree should combine it with A Level Mathematics as this is a pre-requisite at many universities.

Beyond A level Computer Science

You can go on to study degree courses in Engineering, Physics, Computer Science, Mathematics, Artificial Intelligence and Computer Games Programming.

Computer Science also offers students the opportunity to explore other pathways: music production; digital art; architecture – computer aided design and modelling; smart fabric design for fashion, healthcare and other industries; communication networks; sports analysis; crime investigation; weather and financial forecasting; 3D printing; virtual reality; audio-visual special effects; and robotics, to name but a few.