Computing – GCE A Level (from 2013)
Awarding Body: AQA
Preferred Previous Studies
Students are expected to have a minimum of 5 A* - C passes at GCSE including a B Grade in science and Maths. Students should have an interest in computing, pervious study of ICT is not essential.
The AS course explores the basics: What is a computer? What’s programming and data all about? How can a computer solve problems? first part of the course (AS)
This course is designed to:
· allow students to demonstrate knowledge of the fundamental principles of computing
· develop problem-solving abilities in a computing context using an algorithmic approach
· demonstrate a knowledge of programming through a problem solving scenario
· develop an understanding of the hardware and software aspects of Computing.
In the AS specification there are two units.
Unit 1: Problem Solving, Programming, Data Representation and Practical Exercise
This is a practical, on-screen, examination which allows students to demonstrate their knowledge of the fundamental principles of the subject, focusing on programming. Assessment is through a problem-solving scenario using pre-release material.
This is a practical 2hour on screen exam accounting for 60% of AS, 30% of A Level
Prior to the examination students receive a Skeleton Program and some test data. Students must develop the program and use the test data to answer short questions in the examination
Unit 2: Problem Solving, Programming, Operating Systems, Databases and Networking
This unit focuses on the hardware and software aspects of Computing and the social and economic consequences of Computing.
This is a written 1 hour examination composed of short answer questions accounting for 40% of AS, 20% of A Level
The A2 specification builds on the content of AS, with Unit 3 focusing on computational thinking, what can be computed, programming and problem-solving including communication and networking. The second unit, Unit 4, is an internally assessed coursework unit, with candidates required to complete a report on a computer-based programmed solution to a problem solving exercise.
Unit 3 – Problem Solving, Programming, Operating Systems, Databases and Networking
30% of A Level - 2 hour 30 minutes written examination
Compulsory short and extended answer questions.
Unit 4 – The Computing Practical Project
20% of A Level - Coursework.
A report documenting a programmed solution to a real problem associated with a user whose realistic needs should be taken into account when specifying, designing and implementing the solution.
This course has been designed for students who wish to go on to higher education courses or
employment where knowledge of Computing would be beneficial. Students who study Computing go on to
careers in medicine, law, business, politics or any type of science.
There is a clear distinction between this course and the GCE Applied ICT specifications and there is no overlap of subject content.
Computers figure in all our lives; in science, technology, manufacturing, research, medicine – you name it, and computing influences and affects it.
This course is not about learning to use tools or just training in a programming language. Instead the
emphasis is on computational thinking. The study of computation is about what can be computed and how to compute it. Computer Science involves questions that have the potential to change how we view the world. For example, we may be computing with DNA at some stage in the future, with computer circuits made of genes. This leads to the question, does the natural world ‘compute’?