A level Computer Science (Reformed 2015)

What is Computer Science?

Computational thinking is a kind of reasoning used by both humans and machines. Thinking computationally is an important life skill. Thinking computationally means using abstraction and decomposition. The study of computation is about what can be computed and how to compute it. How can we communicate complex ideas simply and how can decompose problems logically? Computer Science involves questions that have the potential to change how we view the world. It also the study of the process of computation, that is:

  • How we do things
  • How we specify what we do
  • How we specify what we are processing

Computer Science is not only a means of learning computer programming or the electronics behind computers but is also about developing skills in using computer systems, applying those skills appropriately and developing awareness and understanding of the use of computing within a business or commercial context.

What sort of student does it suit and what will you get out of the course?

You do not need to have already followed any formal course in Computer Science and do not have to possess any specific practical computing skills as these can be developed within the course. However, if you do have such a background, this can be built upon. You do need to have a good command of English and Mathematics to cope with the comprehension of concepts and examination questions, some of which require essay-style answers.

AS Level

MPW approach to AS study

Teaching time is organised so that time is allocated to theory work and the development of practical skills. In terms of practical work, the emphasis is initially on developing the skills required to write program in VB.Net.

Students are expected to read widely, watch appropriate TV programmes or news items and join in group discussions. Each week students will complete two pieces of written homework and a Timed Assignment on theory work covered in the previous week.

AS specification (Award Code 7516)

Paper 1

Assessed

  • On-screen exam: 1 hr 30 minutes
  • 50% of AS

This unit is a practical, on-screen, examination which allows candidates to demonstrate their theoretical knowledge of Computer Science subject, focusing on programming through a problem-solving scenario using pre-release material. Students should then be able to apply the skills, knowledge and understanding gained from this practical work to the solution of problems.

 Paper 2

Assessed

  • Written exam: 1 hr 30 minutes
  • 50% of AS

The exam for this unit will require both short and long answers

Unit 2 focuses on the hardware and software aspects of Computing and the social economic consequences of Computing and fundamentals of communication and networking. In this unit we will also consider the impact that computing has already had on society and individuals and the direction that new developments may take in the future.

This unit is designed to give students the wider picture of the use of Computer Science and to enable the understanding of basic terms and concepts involved in the study of the subject. Students will be able to discuss and comment on issues from a position of knowledge and they can do this only if they have the knowledge and understanding that underpins the subject.

Reading list 

AuthorTitlePublisher
Kevin Bond AQA AS Computer Sc Unit 1

Education Computing Service ISBN 978-0-9927536-1-0

Kevin Bond AQA AS Computer Sc Unit 2

Education Computing Service ISBN 978-0-9927536-2-7

British Computer Society Glossary of Computing Terms

Longman

A Level

MPW approach to A2 study

These units are approached by building on work covered in AS and A2, but looking at the subject in much more depth. Students are again expected to read widely and draw upon a range of sources of information, particularly on new developments, computer games and an app for a mobile phone. Students will have developed background knowledge and understanding to enable them to take part fully in discussions, both oral and written. Students will be expected to apply their knowledge to a variety of different situations and problems. Each week students will complete a timed assignment on theory work covered in the previous week and a written homework.

A Level Specification (Award Code 7517)

 

 Paper 1

  • Written exam: 2 hr 30 minutes
  • 40% of A-level

This paper tests a student’s ability to program, as well as their theoretical knowledge of computer science. Students should then be able to apply the skills, knowledge and understanding gained from this practical work to the solution of problems. In this unit we will also consider the Theory of computation, fundamentals of data structures and fundamentals algorithms.

 Paper 2

  • Written exam: 2 hr 30 minutes
  • 40% of A-level

This unit is designed to address issues associated with the management of computing and its use within organisations. Most organisation have the computing-related issues to consider on a scale appropriate to their own needs, for instance, how data is represented within the computer and the introduction on of new database management. The paper consists of compulsory short answer and extended-answer questions.

None - exam assessment - The Computing Practical Project

  • Assessed
  • Internal assessment
  • 20% of A-level

Students complete a project involving the production of Computer-related system over an extended period of time and they will be assessed based on the ability to create a programmed solution to a problem or investigation. In so doing, students will enhance their transferable practical skills and the will be working independently on a problem of interest. The Project provides an opportunity to test the candidates’ understanding of the connections between the different areas of computer science. It allows candidates to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the systems development life cycle. The skills to be demonstrated include analysis, design, construction/implementation, testing and evaluation of a substantial computer-based task. The report should summarise the work carried out by the candidate .Projects should be selected which allow candidates to demonstrate practical and problem-solving skills, as well as the techniques of documentation and system testing.

The Project is centre-assessed and externally moderated by AQA

Reading list

AuthorTitlePublisher
Bob Reeves AQA A-Level Computing

Hodder Education
ISBN 978-1-4718-3951-1

British Computer Society Glossary of Computing Terms

Longman

 

For full specification details, consult the exam board’s website on: http://filestore.aqa.org.uk/resources/computing/specifications/AQA-7516-7517-SP-2015-V1-1.PDF