A Level Computer ScienceAQA (2 Years)
Computer Science is a broad-based course where you will gain a sound understanding of the internal structure of computers and how they operate. A large part of the course will be spent studying programming in C#, developing skills in expressing solutions to problems using algorithms. As well as standard data processing and scientific apps, C# will also allow students to create their own mobile phone apps.
Advances in computing are transforming the way we work and our new Computer Science specifications are changing with the times. This course, with its emphasis on abstract thinking, general problem-solving, algorithmic and mathematical reasoning, scientific and engineering-based thinking, is an excellent foundation for understanding these future challenges.
Year 1 - Topics:
- Fundamentals of Programming, including programming and their concepts, arithmetic, relational and Boolean operations, constants and variables (local and global), string handling operations, random number generation, exception handling, sub-routines and procedural-oriented programming.
- Fundamentals of Data Structures, including single and multi-dimensional arrays, fields, records and files.
- Systematic Approach to Problem Solving, including analysis, design, implementation, testing and evaluation.
- Theory of Computation, including abstraction and automation and finite state machines.
- Fundamentals of Data Representation, including number systems, number bases, units of information, binary number system, information coding systems and representing images, sound and other data.
- Fundamentals of Computer Systems, including hardware and software, classification of programming languages, types of program translator, logic gates and Boolean algebra.
- Fundamentals of Computer Organisation and Architecture, including internal hardware components of a computer, the stored program concept, structure and role of the processor and its components and external hardware devices.
- Consequences of Uses of Computing, including individual (moral), social (ethical), legal and cultural issues and opportunities.
- Fundamentals of Communication and Networking, including methods and wireless networking
Year 2 - Topics (*to include topic areas from year 1):
- Fundamentals of Programming, pointers/references, role of stack frames in sub-routine calls, recursive techniques and object-oriented programming.
- Fundamentals of Data Structures, including queues, stacks, graphs, trees, hash tables, dictionaries and vectors.
- Fundamentals of Algorithms, including graph traversal, tree traversal, reverse Polish, searching, sorting and optimisation algorithms.
- Theory of Computation, including regular languages, context free languages, classification of algorithms and a model of computation (Turing machine).
- Fundamentals of Data Representation, including rounding, absolute and relative errors, range and precision, normalisation of floating point form, underflow/overflow and vector graphics.
- Fundamentals of Communication and Networking, including The Internet and TCP/IP.
- Fundamentals of Databases, including database design and normalisation.
- Big Data, including knowing that ‘Big Data’ is a catch-all term for data that won’t fit the usual containers.
- Fundamentals of Functional Programming, including functional programming paradigm, writing functional programs and lists in functional programming.
- Systematic Approach to Problem Solving, including aspects of software development.
- NEA Computing Practical Project, including analysis, design, implementation, testing and evaluation.
Methods & Patterns of Assessment
Monthly tests which can be either theory topics or programming problems to solve. Alternatively, the tests could be a combination of both.
Where Could It Take Me?
The course provides an excellent foundation for any Computer Science related course. Many students have moved on to degree courses in, for example, Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence, Games Design and Software Engineering. Computing personnel are required in many industries, such as Botany and Biology, Space and Aeronautics, National Defence, Sports Equipment, Computer Games Design, Transport and Travel, Modern Media, Social Networking and Medicine and Medical Research.
5 GCSEs at grade 4 or above, including English, plus grade 6 or above in GCSE Mathematics. A grade 5 or higher or above in GCSE Computer Science is a benefit but GCSE Computer Science is not required.
As an alternative to A level Computer Science you may wish to explore the BTEC IT where you will cover Technology, Programming and Web Development.