Aim of the course
Computer science is an exciting and highly relevant course not only in its own right, but also to support further study in many other subjects, including maths, 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 students apart in a competitive world.
Our aim is to give students the confidence and experience to tackle any challenge creatively with the help of a computer to ‘automate the boring stuff’ and boost their productivity, enabling them to create with confidence in a digital world.
Please note, IGCSE or GCSE computer science is a prerequisite for this course.
In the Lower Sixth, students work in a predominantly digital environment, supported by bringing their own device to lessons. They use a modern coding environment alongside digital textbooks and a digital exercise book to explore an exciting collection 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 number of other more theoretical topics and are introduced to the concepts of the NEA (non-examined assessment) project in which they will develop an individual coding project that demonstrates algorithmic and design skill.
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
In the Upper Sixth, alongside continuing to develop and complete their projects, students add additional depth through 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.
The majority of topics are embedded with a hands-on code-and-create approach to provide coding development, stretch and extension throughout the course.
Our best students enter the British Informatics Olympiad. In 2021, a record-breaking three Perse students qualified for the highly competitive national final and were among a field of just 15 finalists.
Computer science at A level is relevant for a wide range of degrees, as shown in this Russell Group guide.
If taking computer science at degree level, some universities, including Cambridge, are bringing forward year-two courses into the first year for students with the A level in computer science.
Some statistics from the recent Telegraph summary of research shows that starting salaries for computer science graduates are among 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.
Exams in the Upper Sixth plus a practical project.