Computer Science
A Level

Awarding Body: OCR

Course Description

Computer Science is recognised as having an importance in the economy and is an underpinning subject for the science and engineering fields. There are rapid advances in computer technology and the breadth of use of this expertise, especially in the gaming and mobile industries. Computer science meets these demands.

Grade 5 or above in GCSE Maths and grade 5 or above in GCSE Computer Science if taken at GCSE.

As an international student you must:

  • Demonstrate a suitable level of academic English, normally at CEFR level B1. For Tier Visa applications Portsmouth College recommends a minimum IELTS score of 5.5 overall (with no component lower than 5) to best succeed in your studies.
  • Demonstrate that you are competent to study at Level 3 in your chosen subjects during your application, including certificates of your qualifications and subject specific requirements such as evidence of an art portfolio for entry on to one of our Art courses.
  • Successfully complete a Skype interview with the College to discuss and assess your choices.

You will learn how to design, write and test programs, and how the program you have written is turned into an understandable form for the computer system. You will also learn how a computer system deals with data in relation to input, processing, storage, transmission and output. This course develops skills such as problem solving, as well as thinking creatively, innovatively, logically and critically. The Computer Science A Level develops computer science knowledge alongside practical programming.

Skills that will be developed throughout the course focus on the application computer science principles, such as abstraction, decomposition, logic algorithms and data representation. You will learn problem solving skills, the ability to analyse a problem and then solve the problem by thinking creatively, logically and critically. Mathematical skills will also be developed, such as working with Binary, the language of the computer. Other mathematical skills learnt will be the use of Boolean Algebra. A primary skill that will be developed is the ability to think logically as, with mathematics, in computer science the answer is either correct or incorrect. Using logic to achieve the answer is a key skill; however, we will also look at artificial intelligence where it is possible to achieve an answer that is not quite correct!

Assessment of A level Computer Science is weighted 80% exam and 20% coursework. There are two exams, sat in the June of the second year – the first is Computer Systems and the second is Algorithms and Programming. The coursework is a Programming Project that focuses on processing, and it is carried out across both years. The theory element will have regular assessments throughout the two years as well as the mock exams in each of the years, as set out in the Key Dates. The coursework will follow staged submission points where feedback will be given.

The College’s E6 Programme will support your next steps, whether they be higher education or employment. They can help with finding a work experience placement and offer workshops in areas such as CV writing, creating an online professional image, interview skills and so on. It is a competitive world out there and additions to your CV such as volunteering through the National Citizen Service or participating in the Duke of Edinburgh Award can set you apart from the rest.

As A Level Computer Science underpins other disciplines, there are many pathways for this qualification. As many students progress onto university, some of the directly-related progression courses include software engineering, computer science, forensic computing, and computer games technology. Other courses are physics and mathematics-based disciplines. Apprenticeships in computer science and IT are also available, including higher apprenticeships.

Mock exams are undertaken during both years of the qualification. The project is submitted to the examining board by 15th May in the second year.