Computer Science

Subject Leader
Mrs Given
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Aims of the course

  • Students will develop an ability to analyse, critically evaluate and make decisions.
  • Students develop the skills to solve problems, design systems and understand the power and limits of human and machine intelligence.
  • Students will develop an ability to analyse, critically evaluate and make decisions.

Course Content

Component 1 – Computer Systems

The computer systems component contains the majority of the specification content and is assessed in a written paper, recalling knowledge and understanding. It includes the following topic areas: characteristics of contemporary processors, input, output and storage devices; software and software development; programming; exchanging data; data types, data structures and algorithms; legal, moral, ethical and cultural issues.

Component 2 – The algorithms and programming

The algorithms and programming component relates specifically to problem solving skills needed to apply the knowledge and understanding from the first component. The component covers a range of elements regarding computational thinking, such as: Elements of computational thinking, programming and problem solving; pattern recognition, abstraction and decomposition; algorithm design and efficiency and standard algorithms. The component also provides students with a short scenario in which problem solving skills are required.

Component 3 – The programming project

The programming project is a practical portfolio based assessment, with a task produced using a suitable programming language. Students will need to analyse a given problem, design a solution, implement the solution and provide a thorough evaluation. Mathematical skills are embedded throughout the three components.

Assessment

Computer systems written examination – 40% of A Level

Algorithms and programming written examination – 40% of A Level

Programming project – 20% of A Level

Computer systems (Component 01)

Learners answer all the questions. There will be a mix of questions including short answer, longer answer and some higher tariff questions that will test the quality of extended responses. The whole of the Computer Systems content will be covered over the life of the specification. Questions may contain, for example, following and correcting algorithms and programs, software development and legal and moral issues.

Algorithms and programming (Component 02)

Learners answer all the questions in Section A and all questions in Section B. There will be a mix of questions including short answer, longer answer and some higher tariff questions that will test the quality of written responses via a level of response mark scheme. The whole of the Algorithms and programming content will be covered over the life of the specification. Section A will contain questions which may cover writing algorithms and computational methods, programming and programming techniques and problem solving. These questions may contain some shorter answer questions. Section B will have a scenario set at the start of the section; this will contain information that will be used for the questions that follow. The questions will be largely of a higher tariff with problem solving algorithms and programming again forming the basis.

Programming project (Component 03)

The programming project will be submitted in the form of a report that will contain the solution to a problem, selected by the learner or centre, written in a suitable programming language. Within the report the learner must demonstrate their ability to analyse, design, develop, test and document using the principles learnt in computational thinking. The report will be marked internally by the centre.  The language used at NSB is Python.

Career Opportunities

The transferable skills that are developed in the study of Computer Science will allow access to a range of career opportunities. However, there are certain sectors that are particularly relevant:

  • Computer programming
  • Software engineering
  • Website/app design/development
  • Computer game development
  • Cybersecurity

Note: a number of universities may ask for A level Mathematics as part of the entry requirements for a computing degree