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Computer Science

computer science

GCSE Computer Science

About the course

The course provides students with a real, in-depth understanding of how computer technology works. Students will no doubt be familiar with the use of computers and other related technology from their ICT lessons and elsewhere. However, the course will give them an insight into what goes on ‘behind the scenes’, including computer programming, which many learners find absorbing.

Course Structure

Unit A451 – Computer systems and programming

Written exam paper containing a mixture of short and long questions.

Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes, 40% of the qualification

Unit A452 – Practical investigation

Students carry out a practical investigation of a topic set by the exam board, 20 Hours approx, 30% of the qualification

Unit A453 – Programming project

Controlled assessment set by the exam board, 20 Hours approx, 30% of the qualification

What theory you will learn

Fundamentals of computer systems

This topic introduces computer systems and provides a foundation for the remaining topics in this unit. Students will learn that the term ‘Computer System’ does not just mean the desktop at home but can include any system controlled or including a processor.

Computing hardware

Students will be able to define the term hardware and have an understanding of many different types and how they operate.


Students will be able to define the term software and have an understanding of the types and how they interact with the user and hardware.

Representation of data in computer systems

Students will understand how data is stored on a computer system and the different ways they can be represented.


Students will be able to understand, operate and create databases.

Computer communications and networking

Students will learn about the setup and structure of networks and the Internet.


Students will gain an understanding of how programming languages operate.

What skills you will learn

In order to be successful in the course students will need to be able to solve problems independently and groups. To help them with this they will develop skills in designing algorithms and computer programming. Students will also be able to evaluate the effectiveness and success of their solutions, as well as other peoples, and the impact computer systems can have on society.

What you can do after GCSE Computing

The course is perfect for students wishing to study A Level Computing or ICT in the sixth form or similar courses at other institutions and for students looking to become computer programmers or working in the IT industry in some capacity

Have a look at the pages for A Level Computing and ICT if you want to find out more about the them.

You should select GCSE Computing:

• If when you use a PC you find yourself thinking ‘What is going on inside the computer when I press this?’.

• If you are the kind of person who takes things apart to find out ‘how they work’.

• If you have used software and thought ‘I think I could make something better’.

• If you enjoy working hard to solve a problem.

• If you are willing to take up programming at home as a hobby.


A Level Computer Science

Who is it For?

This course is for students who have an interest in Computer Science  because they are thinking of undertaking a career in this field or who feel this may enhance their STEM skills and knowledge.  This course will enable students to become software creators as opposed to a user of technology.

What will I do?

Students follow the AQA Computer Science syllabus. There are two modules for t

What’s assessed:

This paper tests a student’s ability to program, as well as their theoretical knowledge of computer science from subject content 1-4 above

Assessment 1

On-screen exam: 1 hour 30 minutes

50% of AS


Students answer a series of short questions and write/adapt/extend programs in an Electronic Answer Document provided by us. We will issue preliminary material, a skeleton program (available in each of the programming languages) and, where appropriate, test data, for use in the exam.

Asessment 2

Written exam: 1 hour 30 minutes

50% of AS


A series of short-answer and extended-answer questions.

What Do I Need

Students should have an ICT or Computer Science based qualification and a Grade B in maths. It is advisable that you have a computer at home so that you can develop your programming skills. This is an academic course with some practical work. Students follow the AQA Computer Science A’ Level.

For more information please contact:

Ms L Drybrough, Head of Computer Science and ICT