LEVEL: A Level – Linear

EXAM BOARD: AQA

WHY CHOOSE COMPUTER SCIENCE?
Computer Science is an exciting subject that encourages students to think creatively, logically and critically and to develop advanced problem solving skills.
Students will build on their GCSE skills to gain an understanding of a wide range of complex, sometimes abstract, data structures and to develop algorithms that manipulate their data. Algorithms will be implemented using a variety of programming paradigms including procedural, object oriented and functional techniques. Python is the main programming language used on the course.
In the second year of the course, students will use their skills to develop a substantial system for the non-exam assessment (NEA) component. At this stage some students chose to teach themselves a new language and/or to program for a different hardware platform (e.g. mobile phone applications).

AIMS OF THE COURSE
AS and A-level specifications in computer science must encourage students to develop:

  • an understanding of, and the ability to apply, the fundamental principles and concepts of computer science, including abstraction, decomposition, logic, algorithms and data representation
  • the ability to analyse problems in computational terms through practical experience of solving such problems, including writing programs to do so
  • the capacity for thinking creatively, innovatively, analytically, logically and critically
  • the capacity to see relationships between different aspects of computer science
  • mathematical skills related to:
  • Boolean algebra
  • comparison and complexity of algorithms (A-level only)
  • number representations and bases.
  • the ability to articulate the individual (moral), social (ethical), legal and cultural opportunities and risks of digital technology.

WHAT WILL I STUDY?
4.1 Fundamentals of programming
4.2 Fundamentals of data structures
4.3 Fundamentals of algorithms
4.4 Theory of computation
4.5 Fundamentals of data representation
4.6 Fundamentals of computer systems
4.7 Fundamentals of computer organisation and architecture
4.8 Consequences of uses of computing
4.9 Fundamentals of communication and networking
4.10 Fundamentals of databases
4.11 Big Data
4.12 Fundamentals of functional programming
4.13 Systematic approach to problem solving

HOW WILL I BE ASSESSED?

Paper 1
What's assessed: this paper tests a student's ability to program, as well as their theoretical knowledge of Computer Science from subject content 10-13 above and the skills required from section 22 above.
Assessed
On-screen exam: 2 hours 30 minutes
40% of A-level
Questions
Students answer a series of short questions and write/adapt/extend programs in an Electronic Answer Document provided by us.
We will issue Preliminary Material, a Skeleton Program (available in each of the Programming Languages) and, where appropriate, test data, for use in the exam.

Paper 2
What's assessed: this paper tests a student's ability to answer questions from subject content 14-21 above.
Assessed
Written exam: 2 hours 30 minutes
40% of A-level
Questions
Compulsory short-answer and extended-answer questions.

Non-exam assessment
What's assessed: 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 above.
Assessed
75 marks
20% of A-level

WHERE CAN IT LEAD?
The specification has been designed to prepare students who wish to go on to higher level courses (e.g. a degree in Computer Science or Cybersecurity) or into employment, where the ability to program and enhanced knowledge of computer systems is of value.