A level Computer Science

Computer Science is an intensely creative and exciting subject that equips students with the skills and language to create innovative software programs with potentially far-reaching applications in the real world. Ashbourne students will develop a broad technical understanding of Computer Science and will be able to write their own programs using Visual Basic.Net and Python Programming Language – one of the most widely used coding languages today. Ashbourne uses the latest iMacs, connected wirelessly, and Smartboard technology.

Why study Computer Science

Almost every aspect of modern life is affected by computers from running our personal and social lives using the internet, mobile devices and home appliances, to complex programs that help businesses and public services run smoothly. Vast networked systems of computers control global communication, trade, finance and transportation, and much more besides.

Studying Computer Science will open a window for you to discover how computers work and enable you to design and determine what they do. You will need an good grasp of Maths and be willing to learn the language of code. Once you crack it though you will be able to deconstruct it and build up your own vocabulary.

You will also become a doctor of problem solving able to analyse and break down problems to find the most efficient and effective solutions. After a while you will apply these skills to your everyday life not just to technical problems.

Which syllabus do we follow?

Ashbourne follows the OCR specification for AS Computer Science and A level Computer Science.

What is covered in this course?

AS and A level students cover computer systems (01) and algorithms and programming (02). A level students also complete their own programming project (03 or 04). Throughout both courses students will receive intensive practical training in Visual Basic.Net and Python, high-level programming languages.

Unit 1Unit 2Project
Computer systems (01)
The Central Processing Unit (CPU) is essentially the nerve centre of a computer through which all information flows. You will examine how this works and how processors differ; for example desk top computers and mobile devices. You will find out how to identify different data types, work out how programs integrate through data exchange and develop your own software using sophisticated coding languages. Privacy, sharing, hacking and the environment are just some of the legal and ethical issues you will consider in the development of software and its applications in current and future technologies.

AS level written exam: 1hr 15mins, 70 marks, 50% of overall result.
A level written exam: 2hr 30mins, 140 marks, 40% of overall result.

Algorithms and programming (02)
In this unit you will become the doctor of problem solving by learning to recognise, analyse and break down ‘problems’ in order to create solutions that the computer will be able to understand. Here you will discover how invaluable algorithms are in helping you describe and resolve complex problems. Algorithms are step-by-step instructions that lead to a final outcome and they exist not only in a scientific context but all around us. Following a cake recipe is just a basic real life example of an algorithm. Algorithms are also responsible for an enormous range of complex activities from codebreaking to financial market management, predicting behaviour, crime prevention and social networking.

AS level written exam: 1hr 15mins, 70 marks, 50% of overall result.
A level written exam: 2hr 30mins, 140 marks, 40% of overall result.

Programming project component (03 or 04)
Go ahead and wow the world with an amazingly innovative program that will change life as we know it using all the problem solving techniques, skills and programming language fluency you have perfected over the course. Now’s your chance to show how you can analyse problems, design and develop solutions and give yourself marks out of ten (evaluation).

Programming project (03 or 04)
A level non-exam assessment: 70 marks, 20% of overall result.

Who teaches this course?

Ruchi Agarwal

MA Computer Applications (MCA, India); B.Com Hons (India); PGCE (Institute of Education, London)

Ruchi started teaching ICT and Computing in the UK in 2001 and completed her PGCE in ICT at the Institute of Education, University of London. She joined Ashbourne in 2012 and as head of faculty has progressed to become a key senior member of staff. She continually updates and improves her teaching strategies and is passionate about promoting Computer Science. In addition to her love for Bollywood, Ruchi enjoys reading fiction and aspires to play badminton well.

Beyond A level Computer Science

You can go on to study degree courses in Engineering, Physics, Computer Science, Mathematics, Artificial Intelligence and Computer Games Programming. Some of Ashbourne’s students have also created their own websites and produced complex iPhone and iPad applications with support from the college.

Computer Science also offers students the opportunity to explore other pathways: music production; digital art; architecture – computer aided design and modelling; smart fabric design for fashion, healthcare and other industries; communication networks; sports analysis; crime investigation; weather and financial forecasting; 3D printing; virtual reality; audio-visual special effects; and robotics, to name but a few.

Any other information

Competence in Mathematics is a prerequisite for success in this course.

Textbooks

Title – OCR A Level Computer Science (includes AS level)

Authors – Rouse, Pitt and O’Byrne

Weblink – OCR A Level Computer Science

Scheme of Work