You may have used computers at school and have used a word processor, a spreadsheet or a database package. In A Level Computer Science you will learn how to write good quality computer programs and then demonstrate this knowledge by solving a series of programming challenges. You will also develop a detailed understanding of how all of the different components of a computer function, work with each other and interact with software.
Examples of questions that you may be asked are:
How do computers help police to combat crime?
How does a computer perform arithmetic?
How does a touch sensitive screen work?
Does a computer have intelligence?
Is Computer Science suitable for me?
Current students have indicated that they find the subject lecturers very knowledgeable and always helpful when required. Students have also stated that they particularly enjoy the procedural and event-driven programming parts of the course as this gives them the opportunity to produce customised solutions to real software problems.
One of the main challenges, common to many subjects, is being organised and developing a logical approach to the subject, in order to keep up to date with the workload.
How will I learn?
Computer Science covers a wide range of topics including both the theory of computing and practical programming. You will have lectures and presentations each week, within which you may be asked to present a logical argument or solve and explain the solutions to a programming problem.
Practical programming work is an essential part of the course and in these lessons you will concentrate on learning programming languages.
You will need to be organised in your approach to work and committed to four to five hours of homework each week for this subject. You must be prepared to complete a written homework and a practical homework each week. The practical programming work tends to be time consuming and you should be prepared to spend many hours debugging code and solving problems.
How will I be assessed?
Coursework: 20% of A Level
A level Computer Science comprises the following three sections:
Paper 1: Problem Solving, Programming, Data Structures, Algorithms and Computation On-screen Exam: 2½ hours, 40% of A level.
Paper 2: Data Representation, Computer Systems, Big Data, Databases, Communications and Networking. Exam: 2½ hours, 40% of A level.
Non-Exam Assessment: The Practical Project Coursework: 20% of total A level – Designed to assess a student's ability to use the knowledge and skills gained through the course to solve a practical problem.
Students can use computing as the basis for a future career, or to support other Higher Education goals.
Jo obtained an A grade in Computer Science. She then went on to Durham University to read Computer Science.
Mark also achieved an A grade. He now reads Mathematics and Computing at Lincoln College, Oxford.
Sarah chose Computer Science A level as it combined well with her other A levels – Maths, Further Maths and Physics.
Students should normally have achieved an A*- C grade profile at GCSE. For GCSE English and Maths where a new grading system has been introduced, a Grade 4 is equivalent to a Grade C.
You will need a logical mind to write your own computer programs successfully and for this reason it is recommended that you have at least a Grade 5 in Mathematics.
All students will be expected to provide their own textbooks, stationery, computer disks and calculators (where applicable). Any further costs are outlined below:
Essential: £30 for textbooks.
If the costs of equipment, materials and trips may cause you financial hardship, you may wish to read through details of our financial support scheme on our website.