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Computer Science

Introduction

No area of industry or employment can perform well without the use of computer systems. Almost every job will demand the use of computers to manage information or external events. Increasingly, those who are operating these computers are expected to have some fundamental understanding of how they work and how they can be maintained. It is therefore important to be able to develop computational thinking. The study of computation is about what can be computed and how to compute it. 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.

Summary of course content

Topics covered include problem-solving, algorithm design, computer programming/coding, the binary number system, database systems, hardware and software, computer networks and how the Internet works.

Topics covered

Computing principles
• The characteristics of contemporary processors
• Input, output and storage devices
• Software and software development
• Programming
• Exchanging data
• Data types, data structures
• Algorithms
• Legal, moral, ethical and cultural issues

Algorithms and problem solving
• Elements of computational thinking
• Problem solving
• Programming
• Algorithms

Programming project
Students will choose a computing problem to work through according to the guidance in the specification. Students will have to demonstrate analysis of the problem, design of the solution, developing the solution and evaluation.

Assessment

Computing principles: Written paper – 2 hrs 30 min, 40% of A Level.
Algorithms and problem solving: Written paper – 2 hrs 30 min, 40% of A Level.
Programming project: Coursework – 20% of A Level.

Skills acquired

This course will help you develop a range of skills including abstract thinking, general problem-solving, algorithmic and mathematical reasoning, scientific and engineering-based thinking. You will also develop fundamental computer programming skills which will prepare you well for games and computer programming courses provided at university level.

Where the course leads

A qualification in computer science works well with many subjects, especially those that require analytical or scientific thinking and logic. Those studying computer science could go on to a career in computer programming, games programming, medicine, law, business, politics or any type of science.

Special entry requirements

This course offers a natural progression from studying computer science at GCSE, which will have provided good foundation knowledge. However, this course is not exclusive to those who have studied GCSE computing but it is probable that students will have demonstrated suitable potential by achieving grade 4 or above in most GCSEs studied. It would be advantageous to have achieved grade 5 or above in mathematics at GCSE.

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