Computer Science is rapidly changing our lives and is one of the fastest growing professions in the global economy. There are numerous interesting professions that computing can lead to, such as cloud computing, networking, games development, application analysis, cyber security, ethical hacking, artificial intelligence, robotics and many more.
“Everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer… because it teaches you how to think.” Steve Jobs
Computer science will teach students to develop an understanding and ability to apply the fundamental concepts of computer science, including, abstraction, decomposition, logic, algorithms and data representation. The ability to analyse problems in computational terms through practical experience of solving such problems, including writing programs to do so. The capacity to think creatively, innovatively, analytically, logically and critically.
Computer Science goes well with Mathematics, Science and Engineering courses.
The key features of this specification encourage an emphasis on problem solving using computers, computer programming using Python and algorithms and mathematical skills used to express computational laws and processes, e.g. Boolean algebra/logic and comparison of the complexity of algorithms.
Mathematical skills are embedded throughout the content of the three components. They will be assessed in the written papers and through the non-examined assessment where appropriate. The three components of A Level Computer Science are:
Paper 1 40%
- Computer systems component (01) contains the majority of the content of the specification and is assessed in a written paper recalling knowledge and understanding.
Paper 2 40%
- Algorithms and programming component (02) relates principally to problem solving skills needed by learners to apply the knowledge and understanding encountered in Component 01.
NEA Programming Project 20%
- The project is a practical portfolio-based assessment, with a task chosen by the student, and is produced in an appropriate programming language of the student’s choice.
The OCR course units:
- Unit 1 Components of a Computer
- Unit 2 Systems Software
- Unit 3 Software Development
- Unit 4 Exchanging Data/Databases
- Unit 5 Networks and Web Technologies
- Unit 6 Data Types
- Unit 7 Data Structures
- Unit 8 Boolean Algebra
- Unit 9 Legal, Ethical, Moral and Cultural issues
- Unit 10 Computational Thinking
- Unit 11 Programming Techniques
- Unit 12 Algorithms
Click here, to find out more about the OCR Computer Science A level specification.
Course Specific Trips, Visits & Experiences
Computer Science A Level students have the opportunity to take part in a variety of course related experiences, virtual coding workshops, industry speakers and potential trips to include The National Museum of Computing.
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 workplace 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 OCR.
Paper 1 Computer Systems – 140 marks, 2 hours 30 mins (40% of total A Level)
Paper 2 Algorithms and programming – 140 marks, 2 hours 30mins (40% of A level)
NEA: Programming Project – 70 marks (20% of total A Level)
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.
What programming languages do you teach?
We mainly programme using Python, although students can choose an appropriate language for their NEA.
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?
The course consists of about 60% theory and 40% programming.
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: