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Computing AS/A2 Level at Heathfield Community College

Course description

“Learning to write programs stretches your mind, and helps you think better, creates a way of thinking about things that I think is helpful in all domains.” -Bill Gates “I think everybody should learn how to program a computer because it teaches you how to think.” - Steve Jobs Computers and technology are at the heart of almost everything we do. Entertainment, business, transport and education all rely on computers. Understanding computing technology is a vital skill for the 21st century. Studying computer science will equip you with problem solving skills and technical insights that you can apply to a broad range of other disciplines too. The A-level computer science course focuses on software development skills i.e. programming. However, we study a variety of other topics including how data is stored, networking and internal computer architecture.

Course content

Year 1

Paper 1

You will answer a series of short questions and write/adapt/extend programs in an Electronic Answer Document provided by the exam board. They will issue preliminary material, a skeleton program and, where appropriate, test data, for use in the exam.

Assessment Information

On-screen exam: 1 hour 30 minutes 50% of AS

Paper 2

This paper tests your ability to answer questions on fundamentals of: • Data representation • Computer systems • Computer organisation and architecture • Consequences of uses of computing • Communication and networking

Assessment Information

Written exam: 1 hour 30 minutes 50% of AS

Year 2

Paper 1

The focus of this unit is to develop you as an effective problem solver and programmer of computer based solutions to problems. The paper will be a two and a half hour practical examination undertaken on a computer. Preparation for this exam will be around practical activities writing and developing computer programs in Python in order to solve a variety of problems.

Assessment Information

On-screen exam: 2 hours 30 minutes 40% of final grade

Paper 2

The focus for this unit is to develop your understanding of computing theory in a variety of areas including data storage, computer architecture, functional programming and networking. This paper will be a two and a half hour paper based examination.

Assessment Information

Written exam: 2 hours 30 minutes 40% of final grade

Non-exam assessment (coursework)

This is your opportunity to design, develop and test a system of your own. You have the freedom to build almost anything from apps to games, interactive websites to network tools. The choice is yours! This unit is an assessed piece of coursework.

Assessment Information

20% of final grade

Entry requirements

A* - B in GCSE Mathematics


See Course Content for full details of assessment information.


Future opportunities

If you wish to pursue computing at University then you would probably go on to study Computer Science BSc. Such degrees often demand an A level in mathematics too. However, having studied computing would help you with any science or engineering degree. In terms of career opportunities the options are plentiful. There are numerous apprenticeships being offered in ICT and there is still an acknowledged skills gap (less people than jobs) in the computing sector.

Further information

Computer Science goes particularly well with Maths, Further Maths and Physics

Student Views

"A great course for anyone with a passion for technology; fun course, fun teachers, who could ask for more?" - Seb Gallop 2015

“In computer science there are a lot of chances to practice challenging problems and there is the great sense of satisfaction when you get to an elegant solution” Toby Lai 2015

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Heathfield Community College directly.

Last updated date: 05 January 2016
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Key information

  • Start date: Next September
  • Duration: 2 Years
  • Course code: AQA 7516 / 7517
  • Number of planned places: 20

Contact details

    • Contact name:
    • Helen Holmes, 6th Form Pastoral Manager
    • Contact telephone number:
    • 01435 866066 ext 1227
    • Email address: