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Computer Science

Subject leader and contact

Mrs V. Olsen-Dry : Head of Computer Science 


A Level Computer Science

AQA - 601/4569/9

Entry Requirements

6 in Computing (if taken at GCSE), 6 in GCSE Maths 

Why study Computer Science?

Studying Advanced Level Computer Science at CamSF offers numerous advantages and invaluable skills for students. In today's increasingly digital world, computer science knowledge has become essential across various fields. Students will be equipped with a deep understanding of fundamental programming concepts, algorithms, and data structures, which form the building blocks of modern technology. This knowledge empowers students to develop their own software solutions, fostering creativity and problem-solving skills. Advanced Level Computer Science nurtures logical reasoning and analytical thinking abilities, enabling students to approach complex problems systematically. These skills are transferable and can be applied to other subjects and real-life situations, enhancing academic and professional prospects. 

Where can it lead?

Completing Advanced Level Computer Science opens a multitude of opportunities for students in their future endeavours. One of the most prominent pathways is pursuing higher education in computer science or a related field at university. With a solid foundation gained from Advanced Level studies, students can specialise in various areas such as artificial intelligence, software engineering, data science, cybersecurity, or computer graphics. A degree in computer science can lead to a wide range of rewarding careers, including software developer, data analyst, systems analyst, network engineer, cybersecurity specialist, or technology consultant.

Moreover, the skills acquired through Advanced level Computer Science are highly transferable and in demand across industries. Companies in sectors such as finance, healthcare, entertainment, e-commerce, and manufacturing rely heavily on technology and require professionals with a strong understanding of computer science concepts. Graduates with Advanced level Computer Science qualifications can find employment opportunities as game designers, database administrators, IT project managers, or even entrepreneurs, starting their own tech ventures.

Computer Science Extras

Curriculum enrichments, including programming interventions and after-school clubs, provide additional opportunities for students to engage with computer science beyond the standard curriculum. These activities offer hands-on experiences, allowing students to explore programming concepts, problem-solving skills, and computational thinking in a supportive and interactive environment. These enrichments enhance the overall learning experience, inspire students' interest in technology, and cultivate a deeper understanding of the subject.Optional enrichments for Advanced Level Computer Science include visiting the History of Computing Museum in Cambridge, which offers students a unique opportunity to explore the evolution of computing technology, gain historical context, and deepen their understanding of the subject. Students can participate in the Bebras Computational Thinking Challenge, which provides students with engaging problem-solving tasks that promote computational thinking skills and logical reasoning. Additionally, The British Informatics Olympiad offers students a chance to compete at a national level, solving challenging programming problems and demonstrating their problem-solving abilities.

Course Content

Advanced Level Computer Science is split into 13 teaching modules:

1. Fundamentals of programming: Learn the logical structure and syntax of a high level programming language, Python, to create instructions that enable a computer to perform specific tasks. 

2. Fundamentals of data structures: Discover how to organise and store data in memory, allowing efficient access, modification, and manipulation of that data in various operations and algorithms. 

3. Fundamentals of algorithms: Design and implement of step-by-step instructions or procedures to solve a specific problem or perform a desired task with maximum efficiency.

4. Theory of computation: Study of formal languages, automata, and computability, exploring the mathematical foundations and limitations of computing systems and their ability to solve problems.

5. Fundamentals of data representation: Study how to represent and manipulate data, including binary, hexadecimal, and character sets, as well as data compression and encryption methods.

6. Fundamentals of computer systems: Study the hardware and software components that make up a computer, exploring their organisation, functionality, interaction, and performance.

7. Fundamentals of computer organisation and architecture: Explore the internal structure and operations of computer systems, covering topics such as central processing unit architecture, memory systems, instruction sets, and Assembly language.

8. Consequences of uses of computing: Analyse the ethical, legal, social, and economic implications resulting from the application and impact of computing technologies on individuals, society, and the environment.

9. Fundamentals of communication and networking: Study how data is transmitted, received, and exchanged between devices and systems, including concepts such as protocols, layers, addressing, routing, and error detection/correction.

10. Fundamentals of databases: Study the principles and techniques of organising and managing structured data using database management systems, including data modelling, querying, and normalisation.

11. Big Data: Analyse massive volume, velocity, and variety of data that is generated and collected from various sources, enabling students to make data-driven decisions, identify patterns, trends, and correlations.

12. Fundamentals of functional programming: Programming paradigm that emphasises the use of pure functions and immutable data, focusing on the evaluation and transformation of mathematical functions and expressions.

13. Systematic approach to problem solving: Discovering optimum solution, testing and debugging techniques, and considering factors such as efficiency, reliability, and usability. 

The assessment for AQA Advanced Level Computer Science comprises a combination of two examinations and one non-examination assessment. 

Paper 1 examination
This paper tests a student's ability to program, as well as their theoretical knowledge of computer science from teaching modules and subject content 1 to 4 above. This paper is a digital, on-screen exam, lasting 2 hours 30 minutes and accounts for 40% of qualification grade. 

Paper 2 examination
This paper tests a student's ability to answer questions from teaching modules and subject content 5 to 13 above. Students are required to answer multiple choice, short-answer and extended-answer questions. This paper is a written exam, lasting 2 hours 30 minutes and counts for 40% of qualification grade.

Non-exam assessment 
Students will undertake an independent project to design, develop, and evaluate a computer-based solution for a real-world problem. The non-exam assessment counts for 20% of qualification grade and covers teaching modules and subject content 1 to 13 above.