Why choose Computer Science?
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.
OCR 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.
Learners will develop an ability to analyse, critically evaluate and make decisions. The project approach is a vital component of ‘post-school’ life and is of particular relevance to Further Education, Higher Education and the workplace. Each learner is able to tailor their project to fit their individual needs, choices and aspirations.Back to top
What will I learn in A Level Computer Science and how will it be assessed?
- 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
- The ability to articulate the individual (moral), social (ethical), legal and cultural opportunities and risks of digital technology.
A Level Computer Science will consist of Components 01 and 02 which are examined by means of a written examination and a non-examination assessment Programming Project (Component 03 or 04).
It is anticipated that all students will be developing their programming skills in Year 12 in preparation for the programming Project during Year 13.
Assessment: Computer systems (01) – 2 ½ hour written paper
Weighting: 40% of the total A Level
Assessment: Computer systems (02) – 2 ½ hour written paper
Weighting: 40% of the total A Level
Assessment: Programming project (03* or 04**)
Weighting: 20% of the total A Level
Content of Computer Systems (Component 01)
This component will introduce learners to the internal workings of the Central Processing Unit (CPU), exchanging of data, software development, data types and structures, algorithms and legal, moral, cultural and ethical issues. This knowledge will be used when studying computational thinking and developing programming techniques. Students will also be expected to draw upon this knowledge when devising their approach to the Programming project component (03 or 04).
Learners will be expected to apply the criteria below in different contexts including current and future uses of the technologies.
1.1 The characteristics of contemporary processors, input, output and storage devices:
Components of a computer and their uses
1.2 Software and software development
Types of software and the different methodologies used to develop software
1.3 Exchanging data
How data is exchanged between different systems
1.4 Data types, data structures and algorithms
How data is represented and stored within different structures. Different algorithms that can be applied to these structures
1.5 Legal, moral, cultural and ethical issues
The individual (moral), social (ethical) and cultural opportunities and risks of digital technology. Legislation surrounding the use of computers and ethical issues that can or may in the future arise from the use of computers.
Content of Algorithms and Programming (Component 02)
This component will incorporate and build on the knowledge and understanding gained in the Computer systems component (01).
In addition, learners should:
- understand what is meant by computational thinking
- understand the benefits of applying computational thinking to solving a wide variety of problems
- understand the principles of solving problems by computational methods
- be able to use algorithms to describe problems
- be able to analyse a problem by identifying its component parts.
2.1 Elements of computational thinking
Understand what is meant by computational thinking
2.2 Problem solving and programming
How computers can be used to solve problems and programs can be written to solve them (Learners will benefit from being able to program in a procedure/ imperative language and object oriented language.)
The use of algorithms to describe problems and standard algorithms.
A Level Content of non-exam assessment Programming Project (Component 03 or 04)
Learners will be expected to analyse, design, develop, test, evaluate and document a substantial program written in a suitable programming language. The underlying approach to the project is to apply the principles of computational thinking to a practical coding problem. Learners will be expected to apply appropriate principles from an agile development approach to the project development.
While the project assessment criteria are organised into specific categories, it is anticipated the final report will document the agile development process and elements for each of the assessment categories will appear throughout the report.
3.1. Analysis of the problem (10 marks)
3.2. Design of the solution (15 marks)
3.3. Developing the solution (25 marks)
3.4. Evaluation (20 marks)
Assessment: Non exam Programming Project
Weighting: 20% of total A Level.
How will I learn?
The key features of this specification encourage:
- computational thinking
- problem solving using computers
- computer programming and algorithms
- the mathematical skills used to express computational laws and processes, e.g. Boolean algebra/logic and comparison of the complexity of algorithms
Computer Science is a good general foundation for a number of subject disciplines including IT, Computer Science, Information Systems, Multimedia, Software Engineering, Computer Networking, Software Development, Internet/Games related, Animation, Programming and Information Management. You could also go into work based training including a variety of apprenticeship schemes.Back to top
Variety of careers stem from Computer Science including various programming, software or games production/design, multimedia or internet based opportunities, as well as a range of engineering based careers. Based on chosen area of the massive spectrum of Computer Science based jobs the possibilities are endless.Back to top
Further Course Information
Students will be provided with many different resources including access to e-learning materials, past papers, detailed notes, revision guides. Students will be expected to work independently to agreed deadlines and must be prepared to take their own notes in theory based lessons. Students should be prepared to use the ICT facilities in school to work on coursework as much of the homework set involves using the computer. There will also be regular after school support classes available.Back to top