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A Level Computer Science

A Level Computer Science

Head of Department, Director of E-learning
Mr K R Fry BSc (Brunel) MSc (Herts) PGCE (Exeter)



Please find below a breakdown of the course. Further information can be found in the full specification, which is available on the Computer Science part of the College VLE. Assessment for all three components is completed at the end of Rhetoric II. The students are no longer sitting an AS Level at the end of the first year, however the students will sit a stringent end-of-year examination in the first year of the A level.


This section will assess students’ understanding of component 1—Computer Systems and the topics listed in the specification and outlined in the framework on page 3.


There will be a written paper that covers the topics of Algorithms and Programming as outlined in the specification and on framework on page 3.


  • The coursework unit consists of an individually produced solution for a computing problem to work through according to the guidance of the specification
  • Students must apply their knowledge and understanding of the theoretical framework and digital convergence.


Computer Science uses mathematics to express its computational laws and processes. All AS Level and A Level Computer Science qualifications must contain a minimum of 10% mathematical skills. Candidates may be asked to demonstrate their knowledge, understanding and skills of computational processes and problem solving in both theoretical and practical ways.

The following list of topics will be counted as Level 2 (or higher) mathematics.


Boolean algebra, comparison of complexity of algorithms, number representation and bases

Whilst the concept for each topic is Level 2 (though it may not appear in GCSE mathematics specifications) candidates will, however be expected to apply the skills in a Level 3 context.


The knowledge, understanding and skills that are developed throughout this qualification are distinct and have very little overlap with other qualifications.


Computer Science is a practical subject where students can apply the academic principles learned in the classroom to real-world systems. It is an intensely creative subject that combines invention and excitement, and looks at the natural world through a digital prism.

 Computer Systems(01) Algorithms and Programming(02)
This component will introduce students to the internal workings of the Central Processing Unit (CPU), the exchange of data and will also look at software development, data types and legal and ethical issues. It is expected that they will draw on this underpinning content when studying computational thinking, developing programming techniques and devising their own programming approach in the Programming project component. This component will incorporate and build on the knowledge and understanding gained in the Computer systems component (01).
· The characteristics of contemporary processors, input, output and storage devices

· Software and software development

· Exchanging data

· Data types, data structures and algorithms

· Legal, moral, cultural and ethical issues

Students will:

· understand what is meant by computational thinking

· understand the benefits of applying computational thinking to solving a wide variety of problems

· understand the principles of solving problems by computational methods

· be able to use algorithms to describe problems

· be able to analyse a problem by identifying its component parts.

Project work Programming
· Analysis of the problem

· Design of the solution

· Developments of the solution

· Evaluation

· We build on the programming knowledge gained at GCSE.

· The main programming language is Python. We also look at JavaScript, SQL, Java and other languages that are of interest.

A Level Computer Science: Tips For Success:

  • Organisation skills: Use your folder effectively and keep it neat. Ensure that all of your classwork, prep work, handouts and resources are organised chronologically and by topic. You will thank yourself for doing this during revision time.
  • Media consumption: Despite the wealth of computers & technology available to us, we are often stop to think how it actually works. Push yourself to seek out new technology and programming languages; read, listen and watch; this will engage you with wider issues involved with the technology in our lives and contexts.
  • Programming practice: Take every opportunity to enhance your coding skills, particularly related to solving problems and trying new languages, in and out of school.
  • Independent thinking: Be original in your ideas and discussion of IT & Computer related issues. Try to avoid just what you read in the text books. Showing that you are aware of current technology and its impact on society.


The aims of this qualification are to enable learners to develop:

  • An understanding of and 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
  • The ability to articulate the individual (moral), social (ethical), legal and cultural opportunities and risks of digital technology.
Platform Background Research
Pod Casts  Available on the VLE in the Computer Science section
Magazines  Computer Active , PC Weekly, net, PC Pro and plenty more available
Online BBC Technology pages are an excellent starting point and many others listed on the VLE



There is no expectation that students purchase any of the below books; they are all stocked in the department and some are available in the College library. However, students may wish to use some of the texts to enhance and enrich their understanding by making notes in the books. The list below is therefore intended to give a flavour of the course and provide a reference point if any topics prove particularly challenging.

**OCR AS and A level Computer Science, PM Heathcote and RSU Heathcote, PG Online.

ISBN: 978-1-910523-05-6

++OCR A level Computer Science, George Rouse, Jason Pitt & Sean O’Byrne, Hodder Education

ISBN: 978-1471-83976-4

Head First Design Patterns, Eric Freeman & Elisabeth Robson

ISBN: 978-0-596-00712-6

Head First Java, Kathy Sierra & Bert Bates

ISBN: 978—596-00920-5

Head First Object-Oriented Analysis & Design, Brett D McLaughlin, Gary Police & David West

ISBN: 978-0-596-00867-3

**Learning to Program in Python, PM Heathcote, PG Online

ISBN: 978-1-910523-11-7

**OCR A Level Computer Science, My revision notes, George Rouse, Sean O’Byrne & Jason Pitt, Hodder Education

ISBN: 978-1-4718-6583-1

**Essential Maths Skills for AS/A level Computer Science, Gavin Craddock & Victoria Ellis, Hodder Education

ISBN: 978-1-4718-6357-8

Python Programming, Third Edition, Michael Dawson, Cengage Technology

ISBN: 978-1-4354-5500-9

##More Python Programming, Third Edition, Michael Dawson, Cengage Technology

ISBN: 978-1-4354-5980-9

Monkey game development: Beginners Guide, Michael Hartlef, Packt Publishing.

ISBN: 978-1849692038

++ Provided either in paper or electronic  form by the department

** These books are highly recommended.

## Excellent for the Independent Project and learning how to make Graphical User Interface in various languages.


One of the keys to success on most A Level courses is keeping up with the latest developments. Engaging with a variety of media and different products from outside one’s comfort zone is vital to greater depth of a student’s understanding of a subject.

Small habits can make a major difference in this regard, such as checking the latest Computer Tweets or choosing to listen to a podcast on the bus. Below are some websites, Twitter feeds and podcasts that can help students to develop these habits. These suggestions a starting point.

Twitter feeds:















The computer science section of the College VLE is updated with lesson material and independent research material. Below are other websites that are worth visiting:

Also check the VLE RSS feeds


At its heart lies the notion of computational thinking: a mode of thought that goes well beyond software and hardware, and that provides a framework within which to reason about systems and problems.” (CAS-Computer Science a Curriculum for Schools).

Department Rationale

Department Aims & Objectives

  1. To develop analysis skills through practical and theoretical problems using a range of different platforms (micro analysis).
  2. To develop critical autonomy through the exploration of wider politcal, social and cultural contexts, and the issues and debates that IT and the expanding role of computers brings (macro analysis).
  3. To be able to apply and discuss all of the four theoretical concepts of Computer Science, along with relevant theory and subject terminology.
  4. To promote academic essay writing skills and techniques that allow students to write critical, well thought out technological discussion points in a balanced and structured way.
  5. To enhance students’ appreciation of the attention to detail required in successfully producing documented code.
  6. To develop students’ ability to undertake thorough independent research into complex technological topic areas across a range of different sources.
  7. To understand the necessity of rigorous planning and pre-production of media texts, including an awareness of the logistics and practicalities of media production.
  8. To enhance and diversify young people’s media consumption, through exposure to a range of products.
  9. To promote engagement with current technological affairs and contemporary social/cultural trends in IT and Computer Science through the discussion of hot topics.
  10. To prepare students for the demands of Higher Education by promoting engagement with academic scholarship and independent approaches to learning.


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