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Computing A level at Sharnbrook Academy

Course description

In the AQA A-Level Computing course you will gain an understanding of, and learn to apply, the fundamental principles and concepts of computer science, including abstraction, decomposition, logic, algorithms and data representation.

You will learn how to analyse problems in computational terms through practical experience of solving such problems, including writing programs to do so.

You will develop the ability to think creatively, innovatively, analytically, logically and critically.

Entry requirements

All students must meet the minimum entry requirements which are:

  • a minimum of five GCSE passes at A* to C, plus mathematics and English language at level 4 or above.
  • ECDL or an equivalent IT course where studied. Please note that, where a student wishes to take at least one A level course and has level 2 BTEC qualifications, those level 2 BTEC qualifications can only count for up to a maximum of two of the required GCSE passes at A* to C, or mathematics and English language at level 4 or above.

In addition to the general entrance requirements, the department requires:

  • a grade 5 in mathematics.
  • also if GCSE IT/Computing was studied, a grade C or above will be required.

Computing Science A-Level is NOT an easy option – it is 20% coursework and 80% written external exams.  Students should be aware that they will be expected to cope with this.  There will be assessments and tests during the first term that students will be expected to pass so they can continue the course.  


Assessment Paper 1 (External Exam 40% of A-Level).  This on-screen paper tests a student’s ability to program as well as theoretical knowledge of computer science. Students answer a series of short questions and write/adapt/extend programs.

Theoretical sections examined in Paper 1.

  • Fundamentals of data structures
  • Fundamentals of Algorithms
  • Theory of computation

Assessment Paper 2 (External Exam 40% of A-Level). This paper tests a student’s ability to answer short and extended answer questions on the following areas:

  • Fundamentals of data representation
  • Fundamentals of computer systems
  • Fundamentals of computer organisations and architecture
  • Consequences of communication and networking
  • Fundamentals of databases
  • Big Data
  • Fundamentals of functional programs
  • Systematic approach to problem solving

The Computing practical project (Portfolio - Coursework – 20% of A-level). Candidates develop their knowledge and understanding of computer systems and the skills studied during the course to solve a practical problem. This project is a substantial piece of work requiring analysis and design over an extended period of time, and which is organised, evaluated and presented in a report.

The project will be modelled around the concept of a systematic approach to problem solving as shown in section 12 above. Their project and solution will be for a third party from its inception to the finished article and the problem solution will be expected to include a degree of programming. This unit enables candidates to demonstrate their skills in: Analysis, Design, Software Development, Testing, Implementation and Evaluation.

Financial information

You will need to purchase a USB memory stick for transferring work and probably some supplementary course books. You must have access to a computer at home and you will also need to have a copy of the preferred programming language (Python).

Future opportunities

This Computer Science A-Level will support your participation in an increasingly technologically dependent society, provide the necessary skills and knowledge to seek employment in areas that utilise computing and will provide a useful foundation for further study of computing or more specialist aspects of Computing. A surprising number of university courses have modules in the Computer Science Department. Hence, an A-level in Computing is a great addition to a UCAS application for many subjects such as Maths and Engineering as well as Computer science. One can study Computing and go on to a career in Law, Business, Engineering or any type of Science in addition to the more obvious routes such as software engineer, analyst, web developer or games developer.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Sharnbrook Academy directly.

Last updated date: 27 October 2017

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