About the subject
Computer Science is an exciting subject that encourages students to think creatively, logically and critically and to develop advanced problem solving skills.
Students will build on their GCSE skills to gain an understanding of a wide range of complex, sometimes abstract, data structures and to develop algorithms that manipulate their data. Algorithms will be implemented using a variety of programming paradigms including procedural, object oriented and functional techniques. Python is the main programming language used on the course.
In the second year of the course, students will use their skills to develop a substantial system for the non-exam assessment (NEA) component. At this stage some students chose to teach themselves a new language and/or to program for a different hardware platform (e.g. mobile phone applications).
There are many enrichment opportunities. Students are encouraged to enter programming and cryptography competitions. The Robotics and Raspberry Pi clubs are very popular and we have use of a workshop to support building and engineering tasks.
Students are expected to enjoy problem solving and to think logically. The subject requires much independent work and students will need to access a wide variety of resources to supplement their knowledge and understanding of theory topics. Students will also be expected to spend at least two hours a week to practice and develop their independent programming skills; this demand will rise significantly for coursework.
Subject Combinations and Progression
Students will find it highly beneficial to study A level Maths (this is essential if they intend to continue with Computer Science at degree level). Many students also study Electronics and/or Physics and combining the subject with BTEC IT L3 has led to very successful outcomes for students who really love computers.
The specification has been designed to prepare students who wish to go on to higher level courses (e.g. a degree in Computer Science or Cybersecurity) or into employment, where the ability to program and enhanced knowledge of computer systems is of value. We have been highly successful in helping students to gain places on Degree Apprenticeships in Software Engineering.
Paper 1 (40%): Programming and System Development; Data structures, Logical operations, Algorithms and Programs, Principles of programming, Software engineering. Two and three quarters of an hour written exam.
Paper 2 (40%): Computer Architecture, Data, Communication and Applications; Hardware and communication, data transmission, Database design and SQL, Operating system, data security. Two and a three quarters of an hour written exam.
Non-Exam Assessment (20%): Candidates will be required to develop a solution to a real problem. This work is internally assessed and externally moderated
GCSE grade 6 in Maths. GCSE grade 6 in Computer Science or very good programming skills (to be assessed prior to entry on to the course). The NEA is a substantial written project so students must be able to write accurately and fluently.