Computer Science A Level
Computers and the programs they run are among the most complex products ever made by human beings; designing and using them efficiently present amazing challenges and rewards. Facing these challenges is the aim of Computer Science as an academic discipline. The need for expert computer programmers today is recognised as one of the key drivers in encouraging growth in the economy.
A Level Computer Science focuses on developing your understanding of how computer systems work in terms of hardware architecture, software coding, and how they represent, store and manipulate data. The course develops your theoretical knowledge and practical programming skills which requires a good level of mathematics and a genuine interest in science and technology. Although the course is technically demanding, it will encourage you to increase your capacity for thinking creatively, innovatively, analytically, logically and critically. These skills are highly desirable in students and are applicable to your other A Level subject choices.
A Level Computer Science offers the opportunity for you to learn how to control the machine rather than simply use it, combining programming skills with academic theory. You will become a developer of technology not a consumer of technology.
Students studying four A Levels will be expected to have a minimum of 6 GCSEs at grade 7, 8 or 9 including English Language and Mathematics at grade 6 or above. Students studying three A Levels will be expected to have a minimum of two GCSEs at grade 6, including Mathematics or Computer Science at grade 5 and three GCSEs at grade 4 including English Language.
You will study a range of topics to meet the demands of a future working with the latest technology in a variety of settings. The skills that are developed over the length of the course will enable you to develop solutions to computing problems faced in the world of work.
The course is split into the following three components:
1. Programming and System Development
2. Computing Architecture, Data Communication and Applications
3. Design and Create a Programmed Solution to a Problem.
In the first component you will investigate programs, data structures, algorithms, logic, programming methodologies and the impact of computer science on society. The second component investigates computer architecture, communication, data representation, organisation and structure of data, programs, algorithms and software applications. The third component gives you the opportunity to create a programming solution to a given problem using a high level programming language.
Components 1 and 2 will be assessed through a written examination at the end of the course. Component 3 is assessed through the submission of a completed coded solution to a given problem and will be at the end of Year 2.
Enrichment and Work Experience
The course gives an insight into a variety of careers by engaging with a range of local businesses and guest speakers. We also have a computer laboratory and access to robots and other high tech equipment. There is an opportunity to complete a one week work placement in the summer term. You will be proactive in finding a placement that will enable you to use your computing skills and to enrich your experience so that any applications for university or employment will show that you have good practical, as well as good academic levels of achievement.
The Computer Science project constitutes 20% of the overall grade and students will need to find a real-life client to work with in order to design and code and effective solution to a problem. This can be achieved by contacting local organisations or by discussing with friends or family a problem that requires a computer system to be developed.
Links with other subjects:
Many subjects complement Computer Science, particularly Mathematics and Physics.
Future Career Opportunities
The course is well regarded by both universities and employers. Possible careers are very broad as Computer Science covers many disciplines including software and hardware development. Therefore you may find yourself writing code for the latest hi-tech gadgets, or mission critical projects such as nuclear submarines or aeroplanes to working as a hardware engineer designing the latest biometric sensors.
Why Study at BSFC?
The course is well established and enjoys good success rates. You will be taught by subject specialists who will develop individual learning plans with you. You will learn to code in Visual Basic and you will develop expertise in data structures and hardware.