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Luton Sixth Form

Computer Science (A Level)

Why study Computer Science?

This course is about computational thinking, a type of reasoning used both by humans and machines. The study of computation is about what can be “computed” and how to compute it, and the science of computing involves questions that have
the potential to change how we view the world. Many great challenges lie in the future for computer scientists to solve. This course, with its emphasis on abstract thinking, general problem solving, algorithmic and mathematical reasoning, scientific
and engineering-based thinking, is a good foundation for understanding these future challenges. The thinking skills developed during the course are precisely those needed to design the new algorithms needed to meet the challenges.


Entry Requirements

In addition to our general entry requirements, you must have:

  • GCSE English – grade 4
  • GCSE Maths – grade 5

You do not need to have studied GCSE ICT. Very few students have done any previous programming, which is fine because programming is taught from scratch.


The Course

This qualification enables you to develop: an understanding of, 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 for thinking creatively, innovatively, analytically, logically and critically the capacity to see relationships between different aspects of computer science. Programming forms a large part of the first year of study and is used to help understand fundamental concepts in computing such as searching and sorting.


Course Activities

In the first year you will work individually and with others to develop systematic approaches to problem solving. In the real world team programming is very common and we try to simulate this. In the second year, alongside theory work, you will undertake coursework. This will involve identifying a suitable project that interests you; you will analyse the key requirements, designing a
computer-based system and create the system by writing and documenting each section for the solution. The course will consist of 4.5 hours in class learning and 4.5 independent study per week.


Career and Progression Opportunities

You can take a degree in Computing or Computer Science or perhaps a more focused degree such as Software Engineering or Artificial Intelligence. Computing graduates have a very marketable degree.


Course Structure and Assessment

This is a two-year course.

Paper 1: Computer Systems
Paper 2: Algorithms and Programming


The characteristics of contemporary processors, input, output and storage devices.
Software and software development.
Exchanging data.
Data types, data structures and algorithms.
Legal, moral, cultural and ethical issues.
Elements of computational thinking.
Problem solving and programming.
Algorithms to solve problems and standard algorithms.

Each written paper is two hours, 30 minutes long, worth 140 marks
and accounts for 40% of the total A Level.
Programming Project
The learner will choose a computing problem to work through according to the guidance in the specification.
  • Analysis of the problem.
  • Design of the solution.
  • Developing the solution.
  • Evaluation.
Non-exam assessment. It is worth 70 marks and
accounts for 20% of the total A Level.


Additional Information

Don’t confuse A Level Computer Science with an IT course. They are very different indeed. In IT the emphasis is on using software packages and managing data. If you intend doing a degree in Computing at one of the top universities then A Level Mathematics is needed. Although Computing degree courses do not demand A Level Computer Science itself, it is sensible to study it at A Level to see if it really is the subject for you. A major misconception is that Computing is a boy’s subject. Although it is true that many more boys than girls study it nationally, there is no reason why this should continue. Girls are very
welcome indeed on the course! Many advances in computing have involved women!
Examination Board: OCR
You will be required complete transition work over the summer and hand this in at enrolment.
Without this, you may not be able to take your place on the course



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