Exam Board Entry Requirements Subject Leader
AQA Grade 6 in GCSE Mathematics
Mr L Fitzmaurice

This course has been designed to prepare students who wish to go onto higher education courses or employment where knowledge of Computer Science is beneficial. The course is designed to encourage students to develop their problem-solving abilities in a computing context using an algorithmic approach. It is designed to encourage students to demonstrate their knowledge of programming through a problem solving scenario and, finally, develop an understanding of the hardware and software aspects of computing. 

There is no requirement to have studied Computer Science at GCSE, but the majority of candidates will have studied this. If you are new to the subject, a commitment to develop your skills quickly will be required in order to be successful. Internal candidates will have studied Visual Basic.NET as their language but candidates joining from other schools are likely to have studied a range of other development languages. The course is ‘language agnostic’ and therefore students are free to use whatever programming language they like, as long as it is supported by AQA. For a list of potential languages, see the AQA A level specification. 

The course is split into three Units, each of which is detailed below.

 

Unit 1

This unit tests students’ ability to program, as well as their theoretical knowledge of computer science. It covers:

  • Fundamentals of programming
  • Fundamentals of data structures
  • Fundamental of algorithms
  • Theory of computation and the skills required from having a systematic approach to problem solving

 

Unit 2

This unit introduces students to the topics of:

  • Fundamentals of data representation
  • Fundamentals of computer systems
  • Fundamentals of computer organisation and architecture
  • Consequences of uses of computing
  • Fundamentals of communication and networking
  • Fundamentals of databases
  • Big data
  • Fundamentals of functional programming

 

Unit 3

This Unit is a non-examination practical assessment, which assesses the student's ability to apply knowledge and skills gained throughout the course to solve or investigate a practical problem. Students are expected to follow a systematic approach to problem solving.

 

Assessment

Each of the three Units studied in A-Level Computer Science are assessed separately:

  • Unit 1 is assessed by an on-screen examination lasting 2 hours and 30 minutes. Students answer a series of short questions and write/adapt/extend programs in an electronic answer document provided by the examination board. The examination board issues preliminary material, a skeleton program and, where appropriate, test data, for use in the exam. This exam is worth 40% of the grade.
  • Unit 2 is assessed by a written examination lasting 2 hours and 30 minutes. It features compulsory short-answer and extended-answer questions. It is worth 40% of the grade.
  • Unit 3 is assessed by documentation produced by the student, as described above. It is worth 20% of the grade.

 

Progression into Higher Education/Vocational Destinations

Students may wish to continue studies in a computing related course in further education or seek employment in the ever growing computer related industries. Please be aware when considering options that Computer Science is very different to the discontinued ICT A Level, in that it is about the scientific understanding of how computer systems work, rather than how they are used. A GCSE in Computer Science is not necessary but is helpful and experience of writing simple computer programs in any procedural or object-oriented language is advantageous.