Computer science A level is an exciting and highly relevant course not only in its own right, but also to support further study in many other subjects including mathematics, economics, engineering and the natural sciences.
Manipulating large data sets algorithmically plays an increasingly essential part in higher education and research. Being comfortable and confident to create programmatic solutions to workplace challenges, irrespective of your chosen field or career path, can set you apart in a competitive world.
Our aim is to give you the confidence and experience to tackle any challenge creatively with the help of a computer to “automate the boring stuff” and boost your productivity.
Please note that IGCSE or GCSE computer science is a prerequisite for this course.
- Learning journey - Lower Sixth
Students study in a predominantly digital environment, supported by bringing their own device to lessons. They use an online coding environment alongside digital textbooks and a digital exercise book (on OneNote) to explore an exciting range of computer science concepts. These range from object-oriented programming to fundamentals of data structures including queues, stacks and hash tables. Students also explore a range of other more theoretical topics and are introduced to the concepts of the NEA (non-examined assessment) project in which they will focus on an individual coding investigation which includes some algorithmic complexity to explore and develop.
The following areas of the syllabus are introduced in the Lower Sixth
- Fundamentals of programming
- Fundamentals of data structures
- Fundamentals of algorithms
- Theory of computation
- Fundamentals of data representation
- Fundamentals of computer systems
- Fundamentals of computer organisation and architecture
- Fundamentals of communication and networking
- Fundamentals of databases
- Big Data
- Fundamentals of functional programming
- Systematic approach to problem solving
- Learning journey - Upper Sixth
Alongside continuing to develop and complete their projects, students will add additional depth to their study by looking at a range of advanced topics including regular-expression, context-free languages, Turing machines and the classification of algorithmic complexity. Areas of the syllabus that were introduced in the Lower Sixth are expanded upon.
- Providing stretch
The majority of topics are embedded with a ‘hands-on’ code-and-create approach to provide coding development, stretch and extension throughout the course.
Higher up the school, our best students enter the British Informatics Olympiad. In 2018, student Vikram Singh qualified for the highly competitive national final. In 2017, Thomas Read did likewise and was selected to join the UK team in the International Informatics Olympiad in Tehran, where he won a prestigious silver medal.
- Beyond the classroom
Computer science at A level is relevant for a wide range of degrees, as shown in this Russell Group booklet.
If taking computer science at degree level, some universities are bringing forward year two courses into the first year for students with the A level in computer science (Cambridge, for one, is doing this).
Some statistics from the recent Telegraph summary of research shows that starting salaries for computer science graduates are amongst the highest. According to a recent report from the USA, nearly half of all ‘well-paid jobs’ (over $58,000 in this study) require some coding skills.