Computer Science A-Level (AQA)
If you are interested in programming and wish to gain a much deeper knowledge of Computer Science than you may have experienced in GCSE this is an excellent and fascinating A level. You will gain lots of career specific skills in programming including some advanced skills in object orientated programming which are very relevant to contemporary job opportunities. You will also gain a wide overview of the theoretical aspects of Computer Science which will be very relevant in a degree course, apprenticeship or employment.
The course consists of two final papers - 80% of final mark (40/40) and an NEA controlled assessment - 20% of final mark
Paper 1: (On-screen exam: 2 hours 30 minutes)
This paper tests your ability to programme, as well as your theoretical knowledge of computer science.
A significant portion of the exam (roughly 60%) involves programming. The language used is Python and the exam is strongly focused towards Object Oriented Programming (OOP)
Theory topics covered:
Fundamentals of programming
Fundamentals of data structures
Fundamentals of algorithms
Theory of computation
Paper 2: (Written exam: 2 hours 30 minutes)
This paper tests a student’s ability to answer questions from a variety of topics based on the following concepts:
Fundamentals of data representation
Fundamentals of computer systems
Fundamentals of computer organisation and architecture
Consequences of uses of computing
Fundamentals of communication and networking
Fundamentals of databases
Fundamentals of functional programming
NEA: (50 hours in class)
The non-exam assessment assesses your ability to use the knowledge and skills gained through the course to solve or investigate a practical problem. You are expected to follow a systematic approach to problem solving. There is the option to produce a programming project of your choice as long as it is of sufficient A level complexity in any programming language that your teachers can support.
Previous projects have been in Python and VB.net.
This A level can be the start of a career in programming in any sector, online development, video gaming, finance, 3D rendering etc. It is also a very useful support to any science based career. Additional job opportunities that are growing fast are cyber security, data analysis and computer forensics.
You should be on track to achieve a minimum of 5 GCSEs at grades 4 - 9, including a grade 5 in Maths ideally a 5 in Computer Science.