What does the course involve?
Theory of computation
Fundamentals of data representation, computer systems and computer organisation and architecture
Consequences of uses of computing
Communication and networking
How will you learn?
We learn in a variety of ways. Theory work is taught by discussion, group work, book and internet based research, computer use and traditional teacher-lead lessons. Programming is taught via a range of practical tasks, the aim being to prepare you thoroughly for programming exam questions and your non-exam assessment at A2. Typically, each task will be introduced and explained and you will be given skeleton code to complete and enhance, giving you a chance to show off your creativity and develop your programming skills to a high level.
There is support material available on the school network including a course textbook to help with programming as well as theory topics. The programming language we currently use is Visual Basic, which is free for you to download and install on your home computer, providing the opportunity for you to develop programs both in and outside school. There will be opportunities to explore other programming languages too should you so wish.
How will you be examined?
The assessment methods are an on-screen practical coding exam worth 40%; a written, mainly theory exam worth 40% and a non-examined assessment project which allows you to demonstrate your programming skills, worth 20%..
A logical mind with an enthusiasm for problem solving is essential. No previous experience of programming is expected and we will begin at a level that should allow everyone to be able to start programming, although GCSE Computing would put you at an advantage. A grade 6 in Maths is needed due to the mathematical and logical nature of the course. You should be able to organise your work, have patience and perseverance to deal with complex programming.
What could you do after completing the course?
Computer Science A-level will give you a significant head start should you wish to pursue a degree in Computer Science, Maths, Engineering, Cognitive Science or other similar courses. Computer Science degrees produce some of the most sought-after graduates of any degree in the UK. Universities have close working relationships with many of the major employers of Computer Science graduates – not only IT and communications companies such as Microsoft, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, BT and Philips – but also important computer users, including investment banks and finance houses.
It will also provide you with highly useful skills that could be put to use in a wide range of careers. Jobs directly related to a computing degree include: database administrator, games developer, information systems manager, it consultant, multimedia programmer, network engineer, systems analyst, systems developer. Examples of jobs where your degree would be useful include: geographical information systems officer, it sales professional, it trainer, technical author.