KS5 GCE Computer Science

What will I learn?

This course has been designed for students who wish to go on to higher education courses or employment where knowledge of computing would be beneficial. One can study computing and go on to a career in Medicine, Law, Business, Politics or any type of Science. Students following this course do not need to have any prior knowledge of computing, but it would be of substantial advantage.

The new course places a much stronger emphasis on problem solving and applied mathematics. The course is not about learning to use tools or just training in a programming language. Instead, the emphasis is on computational thinking. Computational thinking is a kind of reasoning used by both humans and machines. Thinking computationally means using abstraction and decomposition and is an important life skill. Computer Science involves questions that have the potential to change how we view the world. For example, we may be computing with DNA at some stage in the future, with computer circuits made of genes. This leads to the question, does the natural world ‘compute’?

Computing is about designing new algorithms to solve new problems. In this sense Computer Science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes. Many great challenges lie in the future for computer scientists to solve. This course, with its emphasis on abstract thinking, general problem-solving, algorithmic and mathematical reasoning, scientific and engineering-based thinking, is a good foundation for understanding these future challenges.

In the AS specification there are two units.

Unit 1

A practical, on-screen examination which allows candidates to demonstrate their knowledge of the fundamental principles of the subject, focusing on programming through a problem solving scenario using pre-release material.

Unit 2

Focuses on the hardware and software aspects of computing and the social and economic consequences of computing.

The A2 specification builds on the content of AS.

Unit 3

Focuses on computational thinking, what can be computed, programming and problem-solving including communication and networking.

Unit 4

An internally assessed unit, candidates are required to solve a problem using computer based programming and present this in a report.

How will I be assessed?

Paper 1

  • This paper tests a student’s ability to program, as well as their theoretical knowledge of computer science from subject content 10–13 in the specification and the skills required from section 22.
  • On-screen exam.
  • 2 hours 30 minutes
  • 40% of A-level

Paper 2:

  • This paper tests a student’s ability to answer questions from subject content 14–21 in the specification.
  • Written exam
  • 2 hours 30 minutes
  • 40% of A-level

Non-exam Assessment:

  • The non-exam assessment assesses student’s ability to use the knowledge and skills gained through the course to solve or investigate a practical problem. Students will be expected to follow a systematic approach to problem solving, as shown in section 22 of the specification.
  • 75 marks
  • 20% of A-level.

What are the entry requirements?

Physics OR Chemistry GCSE at grade 6 or above AND Maths GCSE at grade 6 or above OR Computing GCSE at grade 5 or above.

Is there anything else I need to know?

This course has been designed to encourage candidates to develop a broad range of skills and knowledge of computing as a basis for progression into further learning, including progression from AS to A2, and/or employment in computing related fields.

A-Level specifications in computing should encourage students to develop:

  • The capacity for thinking creatively, innovatively, analytically, logically and critically.
  • An understanding of the organisation of computer systems including software, hardware,data,communications and people.
  • The ability to apply skills, knowledge and understanding of computing, including programming,in a range of contexts to solve problems.
  • Project and time management skills.
  • The capacity to see relationships between different aspects of the subject and perceive their field of study in a broader perspective.
  • An understanding of the consequences of uses of computing, including social, legal, ethical and other issues.
  • An awareness of emerging technologies and an appreciation of their potential impact on society.

Who to contact?

Shelley Cadman : shelley.cadman@biddenham.beds.sch.uk

Exam board information:  AQA