Computer Science is a subject that will appeal to students who are interested in a future working with computers or in related areas such as Software development and Engineering. It is a very ‘hands on’ subject that focuses heavily on computer programming, as well as the theoretical understanding of how computers work.
Computer Science goes well with Mathematics, Science and Engineering courses.
Over half of the course is practical computer programming work. The programming language studied is Java. The course also looks at methods of problem-solving and the theory of how computers and telecommunications systems work. Students will gain valuable programming and analytical problem solving skills by taking Computer Science.
The course covers topics such as:
- Fundamentals of data representation
- Fundamentals of computer systems
- Communication & networking
- Systems life cycle
- Algorithms & data structures
- Comparing algorithms, searching & sorting
- Computational thinking
- Number representation
- Regular languages
- Object oriented programming & functional programming
- Communication & networking
Course Specific Trips, Visits & Experiences
Computer Science A Level students have the opportunity to take part in a variety of course related experiences. In recent years, these have included:
- Representatives from City University London delivering a Computing Masterclass to students
In addition to course specific experiences, students also have the opportunity to get involved in the College’s Activities Programme.
All students need to gain an experience of the work place during their time at College and for students studying vocational courses it should ideally be linked to one of their subject areas.
There are two theory exams (both worth 40%) and one piece of coursework (20%). The coursework topic is selected by the student with guidance from the teacher.
The exam board for this A Level is AQA.
All students need to have at least five GCSEs at Grade 4 or above (and a satisfactory school reference) in order to be accepted on an A Level/BTEC Level 3 Programme.
In addition, students should meet the following minimum GCSE requirements:
- Grade 6 in Maths, or
- Grade 5 in Maths and Grade 6 in Computer Science or Physics (6,6 in Combined Science) and
- Grade 4 in English Language
GCSE Computer Science is not a requirement for this course, however a strong aptitude in Maths is.
This course will suit students who are:
- Interested in Computers, Design, Engineering, Technology and Electronics
- Good at problem-solving and using logic
- Original, creative, organised, and analytical thinkers
This is a problem-solving subject that requires students to think in a clear and logical way. Most students combine this course with either Mathematics or a Science subject. Students not taking either of these, might consider BTEC Level 3 Computing as an alternative.
What programming languages do you teach?
We mainly programme using Java. We also do a bit of Haskell in the second year. If you have done any programming before (e.g. Python) it is easy to make the transition to Java – the main difference is syntax and curly brackets.
Is Computer Science/IT GCSE a requirement to do this course?
No, it is not a requirement to have studied GCSE Computer Science or IT .
If you studied it at GCSE (or equivalent) some of the content at the start of the A Level course will be familiar to you.
If you haven’t studied it before you don’t need to worry as we go through everything covered on the course.
What’s the difference between IT and Computer Science?
At a glance, IT careers are more about installing, maintaining, and improving computer systems, operating networks, websites, and databases.
Whereas, Computer Science is about using logic and mathematics to design and programme systems to run more efficiently.
In terms of our courses at College:
- In IT you will be learning about IT systems, how IT is used across different industries and developing applications such as websites and games.
- In Computer Science you will learn how to code, be able to develop systems to solve complex issues and learn how various computer infrastructures work.
How much programming vs theory content is there?
In the Lower Sixth we do about 50% theory and 50% programming.
In the Upper Sixth this shifts more towards programming, and you’ll complete an NEA (non examined assessment) i.e. a substantial piece of coursework that’s assessed, as well as covering more programming theory (e.g. data structures). The weight is around 60% programming/programming theory to 40% Computer Science theory.
What career/study options can I pursue on completing this course?
Our former Computer Science students have gone on to pursue various degrees at university including: Cyber Security, Computer Science, Games Design, Software Engineering, Ethical Hacking and Artificial Intelligence.
Other students have successfully secured apprenticeships (including degree-based) in Cyber Security, Web development and IT.
I’d like to find out a bit more about Computer Science. Can you suggest anything?
Yes of course! Here are some interesting websites to look at: