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Computer Science - A Level at Canon Slade CofE School

Course description

What does the course aim to do?

To develop an understanding of and ability to apply the fundamental principles and concepts of computer science. This includes how to apply computational thinking techniques such as abstraction, decomposition, logical thinking and algorithms in order to solve complex problems. The course will develop your capacity to think innovatively, analytically, logically and creatively through practical experience of solving such problems including writing computer programs to do so.

How will I study?

Lessons in Computer Science are largely practical, developing programming and problem solving skills as well as the theoretical knowledge which underpins the technical areas covered. The course will develop your programming skills through a series of structured tasks and independent challenges designed to ensure rapid progress in a short space of time and enable you to quickly become a competent programmer. We aim to develop excellent problem solvers and as such you will regularly be presented with challenges designed to stretch and challenge your thinking. Flipped learning is used extensively and supported by a comprehensive ‘virtual learning environment’ which includes a wide range of independent activities, comprehensive course notes, past exam questions as well as videos and extended reading activities to help you develop a deep and rounded understanding of each topic. You will complete activities which will help you grow as an independent learner and in class, your teacher will track your progress closely, providing feedback on your work and guiding you through difficulties. We also highly value team work and you will spend a lot of time working with other students in your class to solve problems together, much as you would in the real world of computing.

Course content

A-Level Computer Science involves the study of computer systems and how they work at a fundamental level. Among many elements covered students will have the opportunity to look at how each internal component of a computer works, how they communicate with each other and how it is possible to represent data in the form of images, sound and text using only binary and computer circuits.

The Computer Systems component also includes elements of networking and internet communications including how webpages are created using HTML, CSS and Javascript through to how the pages themselves are transmitted over the internet and the hardware and technology involved. Further topics cover the use of compression and encryption, how to create relational databases and write SQL, defining problems using Boolean algebra and the use of logic gates as well as software development and design.

In the Algorithms and Problem Solving component you will study the techniques used to solve complex problems and develop your ability to apply these when solving problems of your own. There is a large programming and mathematical element involved and over the course of your study you will develop your programming skills rapidly to incorporate a range of advanced techniques including the use of key data structures such as graphs, trees, arrays and lists, the use of object oriented programming techniques as well as look at some of the key algorithms that have been developed. This is an intensely creative subject that will help you develop the skills to solve problems, design systems and understand the power and limits of human and machine intelligence.

The course is split into 3 components:

1. Computer Systems

• Topic 1 – Components of a computer and their uses

• Topic 2 – Software and software development

• Topic 3 – Exchanging data

• Topic 4 – Data types, data structures and algorithms

• Topic 5 – Legal, moral, cultural and ethical issues

2. Algorithms and Programming

• Topic 1 – Elements of computational thinking

• Topic 2 – Problem solving and programming

• Topic 3 – Algorithms

• Topic 4 – Data types, data structures and algorithms

3. Programming Project

• Topic 1 – Problem Analysis

• Topic 2 – Solution Design

• Topic 3 – Solution Development

• Topic 4 – Project Evaluation

Entry requirements

Grade 5 in English and Mathematics plus 3 A*-C grades at GCSE with a points score of 5.5+ (which equals roughly 4xB/6 and 4xC/5), from the top 8 GCSEs taken in the first sitting.

Assessment

Paper 1 – Computer Systems – 2 hours and 30 minutes

40% of the A-Level

A mixture of short and long answer questions covering component 1, along with some extended response questions.

Paper 2 – Algorithms and Programming – 2 hours and 30 minutes

40% of the A-Level

A mixture of short and long answer questions covering component 2. Section B of the paper includes a scenario that is used to answer questions in that section. These will mostly be high tariff question with problem solving and algorithms forming the basis.

NEA –Programming Project 20% of the A-Level

A programming project chosen by the student and undertaken during the final year of the A Level. This takes the form of a written report and accompanying computer program developed by the student.

Future opportunities

The creative, technical and problem solving skills that you will develop and learn are relevant to a host of careers in a range of sectors, from the arts and graphics –based roles through to engineering, finance and business. Of course there is always demand for highly skilled programmers and software developers and a Computer Science A Level will naturally lead onto an associated Computer Science degree or apprenticeship.

Further information

Am I suited to this subject?

Do you like problem solving? Are you happy to persevere and work hard to find solutions to problems for which the solution is not always obvious? Does the idea of solving problems and creating computer programs of your own sound appealing? Our students are highly motivated to succeed. They are team workers and problem solvers and they enjoy the challenge that Computer Science offers. Above all they have passion for what they do and work extremely hard to achieve their goals. We expect the same from all of our students. You will be expected to work hard, meet deadlines, challenge yourself to take on new ideas and ways of thinking. You will need to have perseverance, patience and determination to overcome obstacles. If this sounds like you then Computer Science might be for you.

What will I need to do myself?

You will carry out much of the work in your private study and homework time. A steady commitment is needed to keeping up with the course and your willingness to devote the requisite time and effort to homework will be a clear sign of your motivation.

Why should I come to Canon Slade to study Computer Science?

We have an experienced and very knowledgeable team of teachers who have a track record adding value to students’ grades at A-Level. We recognise the importance of Computer Science as a subject in the future and want to prepare students to be at the forefront of these developments. We support our students through our comprehensive VLE and close personal tracking to ensure students stay on track to achieve. We highly value our A Level Computer Science students and we offer a lot of additional opportunities. There is the opportunity to participate in the running of our Computing Society for younger students as well as mentoring GCSE students who are also studying Computer Science. We are a very friendly and hard-working team and we look forward to welcoming you.  

To find out more about this qualification, contact us, ask your Connexions Personal Adviser or school/college careers staff.

For more information about this course contact us directly on 01204 333343

How to apply

You can apply for this course through UCAS Progress. Add this course to your favourites so you can start making an application.

Last updated date: 04 November 2016
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