“Everyone should learn to code; it teaches you how to think”. Steve Jobs

Exam board: AQA

Who is it for?

In the AQA A-Level Computing course you will gain an understanding of, and learn to apply, the fundamental principles and concepts of computer science, including abstraction, decomposition, logic, algorithms and data representation.

You will learn how to analyse problems in computational terms through practical experience of solving such problems, including writing programs to do so.

You will develop the ability to think creatively, innovatively, analytically, logically and critically.

Entry requirements

In addition to the general entrance requirements, the department requires:

  • a grade 5 in mathematics
  • also if GCSE IT/Computing was studied, a grade 4 or above will be required.

Course Content

You will take 2 written exams at the end of year 13.

You will have approximately 10 periods per fortnight teaching time. You will also be expected to do approximately 5 hours per week on coursework or research for examination pre-prepared work, either in private study periods or at home. Computing Science A-Level is NOT an easy option – it is 20% coursework and 80% written external exams. Students should be aware that they will be expected to cope with this. There will be assessments and tests during the first term that students will be expected to pass so they can continue the course.

Additional Costs

You will need to purchase a USB memory stick for transferring work and probably some supplementary course books. You must have access to a computer at home and you will also need to have a copy of the preferred programming language (Python).

Assessment Paper 1 (External Exam 40% of A-Level). This on-screen paper tests a student’s ability to program as well as theoretical knowledge of computer science. Students answer a series of short questions and write/adapt/extend programs.

Theoretical sections examined in Paper 1.

  • Fundamentals of data structures
  • Fundamentals of Algorithms
  • Theory of computation

Assessment Paper 2 (External Exam 40% of A-Level). This paper tests a student’s ability to answer short and extended answer questions on the following areas:

  • Fundamentals of data representation
  • Fundamentals of computer systems
  • Fundamentals of computer organisations and architecture
  • Consequences of communication and networking
  • Fundamentals of databases
  • Big Data
  • Fundamentals of functional programs

Systematic approach to problem solving

The Computing practical project (Portfolio - Coursework – 20% of A-level). Candidates develop their knowledge and understanding of computer systems and the skills studied during the course to solve a practical problem. This project is a substantial piece of work requiring analysis and design over an extended period of time, and which is organised, evaluated and presented in a report.

The project will be modelled around the concept of a systematic approach to problem solving as shown in section 12 above. Their project and solution will be for a third party from its inception to the finished article and the problem solution will be expected to include a degree of programming. This unit enables candidates to demonstrate their skills in: Analysis, Design, Software Development, Testing, Implementation and Evaluation.

Career Progression

This Computer Science A-Level will support your participation in an increasingly technologically dependent society, provide the necessary skills and knowledge to seek employment in areas that utilise computing and will provide a useful foundation for further study of computing or more specialist aspects of Computing. A surprising number of university courses have modules in the Computer Science Department. Hence, an A-level in Computing is a great addition to a UCAS application for many subjects such as Maths and Engineering as well as Computer science. One can study Computing and go on to a career in Law, Business, Engineering or any type of Science in addition to the more obvious routes such as software engineer, analyst, web developer or games developer.

For further information, contact:

Mr Dunn or any member of the IT department.