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Computer Science

Why study Computer Science

With technology driving today’s modern world, knowledge of technology beyond a basic grasp is becoming ever more important. For example, physicists and chemists often need to model reactions through the use of programmed simulations. Computer Science also teaches you how to problem solve and form algorithms which can be useful in a wide number of subjects. Computer Science is about designing new algorithms to solve new problems. In this sense, Computer Science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes. Many great challenges lie in the future for computer scientists to solve. This course, with its emphasis on abstract thinking, general problem-solving, algorithmic and mathematical reasoning, scientific and engineering-based thinking, is a good foundation for understanding these future challenges.

Entry requirements

7 in GCSE Mathematics or A/7 in IGCSE/GCSE Computer Science. Those who have not studied IGCSE/GCSE Computer Science are considered individually, but are unlikely to be adequately prepared to start the A-level course without additional work. Should you be accepted onto the course without a background in Computer Science, you will be expected to invest the necessary time and effort in bringing your skills up to the required level.

Course Outline

The course builds on the content delivered in IGCSE/GCSE Computer Science courses. Programming and problem solving will play a significant role in the course and ideally, you will be a confident programmer (which language(s) is unimportant). More important than programming knowledge is the ability to think logically and ‘outside the box’. Mathematical reasoning, such as that found in discrete mathematics, is a cornerstone of problem-solving and in both designing and implementing algorithms.

The CIE course consists of an AS and an A2 year with each year broken down into a theoretical unit and a programming and problem-solving unit. AS papers are taken at the end of the Lower Sixth and can be retaken in the Upper Sixth. All units are 100% examinable.

AS Year

  • Unit 1 (50% of AS, 25% of A-level): Theory Fundamentals
  • Unit 2 (50% of AS, 25% of A-level): Fundamental Problem-solving and Programming

A2 Year

  • Paper 3 (25% of A-level): Advanced Theory
  • Paper 4 (25% of A-level): Further Problem-solving and Programming Skills

Course Delivery

The course is not about learning to use tools or just training in a programming language. Instead, the emphasis is on computational thinking. Computational thinking is a kind of reasoning used by both humans and machines. Thinking computationally means using abstraction and decomposition and is an important life skill. 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.

There is a wide variety of Computer Science topics covered in both years of the course:

  • Information representation
  • Communication and Internet
  • Technologies
  • Hardware
  • Processor fundamentals
  • Systems software
  • Security, privacy and data integrity
  • Ethics and ownership
  • Database and data modelling
  • Algorithm design and problem-solving
  • Data representation
  • Software development and programming

Higher Education and Career Opportunities

This course has been designed for pupils who wish to go on to Higher Education courses or employment where knowledge of computing would beneficial. One can study Computer Science and go on to a career in medicine, law, business, politics or any type of science.
In the latest Russell Group Informed Choices document, Computer Science/Computing is seen as a useful subject for many different types of university course. As more schools across the UK offer Computer Science, so there is an increase in the number of universities and courses identifying the relevance of Computer Science in diverse areas such as Medicine, Physics, Mathematics, Psychology and Engineering.

Contact for further information

Mr L A Minett, Head of Computer Science and ICT