A-Level Computer Science

Course Description 

From Facebook to driverless cars, Computer Science is a fast paced, stimulating environment that develops pioneering technological advancements, incorporating a wide range of disciplines including mathematics, physics, programming, engineering and linguistics. It underpins the technological world we live in and will continue to revolutionise the future.

This complex and challenging A level will introduce you to the world of computational thinking. You will learn about the fundamental principles of computer systems that encompass Hardware, Software, Data and Communication. You will learn the foundations of design and implementation in programming.

A level Computer Science offers multiple pathways of study for computer related degrees. The employment prospects of students who have a degree in Computer Science are excellent in all fields. Throughout the study of A level Computer Science you will develop a wide range of organisational, problem solving, presentation and report writing skills that are applicable in a multitude of different environments.

Exam Board: AQA

Further information is available from the Computer Science specification.

The aims of this qualification are to enable learners to develop:

  • An understanding and ability to apply the fundamental principles and concepts of computer science, including: abstraction, decomposition, logic, algorithms and data representation
  • The ability to analyse problems in computational terms through practical experience of solving such problems, including writing programs to do so.
  • The capacity to think creatively, innovatively, analytically, logically and critically
  • The capacity to see relationships between different aspects of computer science
  • Mathematical skills.

Content Overview

Subject content

  1. Fundamentals of programming
  2. Fundamentals of data structures
  3. Fundamentals of algorithms
  4. Theory of computation
  5. Fundamentals of data representation
  6. Fundamentals of computer systems
  7. Fundamentals of computer organisation and architecture
  8. Consequences of uses of computing
  9. Fundamentals of communication and networking
  10. Fundamentals of databases
  11. Big Data
  12. Fundamentals of functional programming
  13. Systematic approach to problem solving
  14. Non-exam assessment – the computing practical project

 Assessments

A-level Computer Science consists of 2 papers.

Students must answer all questions in both papers.  Students are also required to complete a Programming Project.

The information in the table below shows the weighting of the exams and the maximum marks that can be achieved from both papers.

Paper Description Length Marks What is Assessed Types of Questions Weighting
1 On screen exam 2 hours 30 minutes 100 This paper tests a student's ability to program, as well as their theoretical knowledge of computer science from subject content 10 – 13 above and the skills required from section 22 above. Students answer a series of short questions and write/ adapt/extend programs in an electronic answer document provided by the exam board. They issue preliminary material, a skeleton program and, where appropriate, test data, for use in the exam. 40%
2 Written exam 2 hours 30 minutes 100 This paper tests a student's ability to answer questions from subject content 14 – 21 above. Compulsory short-answer and extended-answer questions. 40%

Non-exam assessment – the computing practical project - Weighting (20%) Marks 75

The project allows students to develop their practical skills in the context of solving a realistic problem or carrying out an investigation. The project is intended to be as much a learning experience as a method of assessment; students have the opportunity to work independently on a problem of interest over an extended period, during which they can extend their programming skills and deepen their understanding of computer science.

The most important skill that should be assessed through the project is a student's ability to create a programmed solution to a problem or investigation. This is recognised by allocating 42 of the 75 available marks to the technical solution and a lower proportion of marks for supporting documentation to reflect the expectation that reporting of the problem, its analysis, the design of a solution or plan of an investigation and testing and evaluation will be concise.

Why you should consider this course

Computer Science is a practical subject where learners can apply the academic principles learned in the classroom to real world systems. It is an intensely creative subject that combines invention and excitement, and can look at the natural world through a digital prism. AQA’s A Level in Computer Science will value computational thinking, helping learners to develop the skills to solve problems, design systems and understand the power and limits of human and machine intelligence.