What is Computing?
You may have used computers at school and have used a word processor, a spreadsheet or a database package. In A Level Computing you will not only use packages but you will find out how computers work and how to program them.
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 Computing 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 programming part 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?
Computing 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: AS – 0%; A2 – 40% of A2 Level ( 20% of A Level).
A Level Computing comprises four units overall, two in each year. In the first year at AS students take units 1 and 2. You will also start some initial research for your second year coursework.
Unit 1: Problem Solving, Programming, Data Representation and Practical Exercise
On-screen Exam: 2 hours, 60% of total AS, 30% of total A Level.
Unit 2: Computer Components, The Stored Program Concept and The Internet
Exam: 1 hour, 40% of total AS, 20% of total A Level.
Unit 3: Problem Solving, Programming, Operating Systems, Databases and Networking
Exam: 2 hours 30 minutes, 30% of total A Level.
Unit 4: The Practical Project
Coursework: 20% of total A Level.
Students can use computing as the basis for a future career, or to support other Higher Education goals.
Jo obtained an A grade in Computing. 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 Computing A Level as it combined well with her other A Levels – Maths, Further Maths and Physics.
Students studying a 3 or 4 AS level programme should normally have achieved an average GCSE point score of 5.5 or above and at least a grade C in Maths and/or English (unless specified otherwise). Students with a point score between 4.5 – 5.5 will normally take a mixture of Subsidiary Diplomas and AS levels. You can check your likely GCSE point score by going to 'Choosing the Right Course' on the website and entering your predicted grades.
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 C 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.