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Computer Science A Level at Truro and Penwith College

Course description

The basis of this course is computation, both in theory and practice. Computer Science is an academic subject that requires you to be systematic and logical, and so often lends itself to the more technically minded student. You’ll start off by developing practical skills in a range of programming languages, principally C# and python. You will have the opportunity to perform Systems Analysis, Software Engineering and Program Construction.

Then, you’ll move on to learn how software interacts with hardware, in particular the role of the operating system, data structures and processes and how the principles of hardware impact on software and data communication. Later, you will discover how different types of software drive the digital economy and the implications of the digital revolution on the rest of society. You will also examine issues with digital security and undertake a major piece of independent coursework on a software problem of your own choice.

As computers are now such an integral part of society, people with A Level Computer Science skills are in extremely high demand. Many career possibilities are available to you with Computer Science including system analysis, computer programming, animation and many more. Previous students now work around the world for companies, ranging from Google to local businesses working with robotics and embedded systems

Course content

Year 1 study
Component 1 Fundamentals of Computer Science (exam) 70%
Component 2 Practical Programming to solve Problems (On-Screen exam) 30%

In Component 1 and Component 2 you will be introduced to the basic principles of Hardware and Communication, Logical Operations, Data Transmission, Data Representation and Data Types, Data Structures, Organisation of Data, Database Systems, The Operating System, Algorithms and Programs, Principles of Programming, Systems Analysis, Software Engineering, Program Construction, the need for different types of Software Systems and their attributes, Practical Programming, Data Security and Integrity Processes and an introduction to the economic, moral, legal, ethical and cultural issues relating to Computer Science.

Year 2 study
Component 1 Programming and System Development (exam) 40%

The aim of this part of the subject content is to develop your knowledge of Data Structures, Logical Operations, Algorithms and Programs, Programming Principles, Systems Analysis, System Design, Software Engineering and Program Construction. This part of the subject content also requires you to study the economic, moral, legal ethical and cultural issues relating to Computer Science.

Component 2 Computer Architecture, Data, Communication and Applications (exam) 40%
The aim of this part of the subject content is to develop your knowledge of Hardware and Communication, Data Transmission, Data Representation and Data Types, Organisation and Structure of Data, Databases and Distributed Systems, the Operating System, The need for different types of software and their attributes, Data Security and Integrity Processes.

Component 3 Programmed Solution to a Problem (coursework) 20%
The aim of this area of study is to allow you to investigate, design, prototype, refine the design, implement, test and evaluate your own solution to a substantial software problem chosen by you.  It requires you to carry out two different kinds of practical activity conducted over a minimum of 72 guided learning hours:
 

  • a written report (minimum 100 pages excluding code listings)
     
  • Software development (evidenced in annotated listings and test runs).

Entry requirements

AS/A Level Computing requires a systematic and logical approach to problem solving.  You will require at least 5 A*-C grade passes at GCSE, including English, and at least a B grade in Mathematics.  GCSE IT/Computing is not required, but a strong desire to develop skills in programming languages or previous experience is helpful.

Assessment

Your achievement in this subject is dependent upon excellent attendance, punctuality and effort. You will learn in a friendly atmosphere, using a variety of assessment methods:

  • You will be assessed regularly on practical work that is conducted either as homework or under timed conditions in class and given feedback on your progress. You will also be assessed regularly on technology terminology.
  • Discussions and presentations are a vital part of our assessment process and you will be expected to contribute to those and practical exercises.
  • You will review your own performance in 1:1 discussions with your tutor.
  • You will undertake mock examinations on each component in advance of your final exams.
  • You will be formally examined on each component that you study. The linear examinations are traditional and written, and are sat at the end of the second year, although you will complete an AS qualification in this subject based on the components covered in Year 1 to ensure progress. The AS qualification contains an on-screen computer examination component. Coursework in the second year is compulsory.

Future opportunities

A qualification in Computer Science is highly valued by many universities and employers alike. Computer Science is also an excellent subject to complement many courses, such as Physics, Electronics, Mathematics, any technology-related course, and other sciences. Some university courses also require an A Level in Mathematics.

Many of our students go on to take a degree course in computing or computing related subjects, leading to a future in programming, networking, business and other related areas. Computer Science is useful when applying for a variety of careers from engineering to banking, or as the entry requirement to become a trainee programmer or software engineer.

Further information

We encourage all students to read widely and conduct their own research into computer systems and software development, especially those who wish to study Computer Science related courses at degree level. We will offer opportunities for you to conduct independent research and development.

Programming development can take place using resources in college. Much of the software that you will use is available as free downloads or through student licence schemes.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Truro and Penwith College directly.

Last updated date: 15 June 2016

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