Our 21st century world is a dynamic and ever-changing place where we can now stream high definition movies to our smartphones, video chat with friends and relatives on the other side of the planet and store huge amounts of music in the cloud! We can design cars using a laptop, use voice control to browse the internet, even do our banking online at home in our pyjamas. All of these advances are made possible because of the work of computer scientists. Computers make our world possible and Computer Science is the course that will help you develop the fundamental skills and understanding required to make sense of our digital age. By writing your own programs and apps you will develop your problem-solving skills and your logical, mathematical thinking to perhaps imagine the technology that is yet to come!
To ensure you have the best possible chance of success in Computer Science, you are required to have obtained at least grade 6 in GCSE Mathematics and 5 or better in GCSE English. You do not need to have any experience of programming before you start, however confidence coding in Python would give you a significant advantage when starting the course. If you have studied computer science at GCSE, we will also take your performance in this subject into consideration.
The most important skill you will develop on the course is the ability to solve problems. Using mathematics and a computing language called Python you will discover how it is possible to write algorithms and computer code to create software that can perform calculations, store data and much more. Computer Science will help you develop strong logical, numerical, problem solving skills that will make you an attractive prospect for many different employers from a variety of different industries. The course could lead to a career in the Computing and IT Industry, but it could just as easily take you on a journey into Medicine, Law, Business, Politics, Engineering or any type of Science.
The linear A Level Computer Science course will be assessed by your performance in two exams at the end of the second year. These exams are synoptic and between them, will cover all the elements from the entire two years of study. The first paper is an on-screen exam that will challenge your programming skills, whilst the second is paper-based. Each is 2 hours 30 minutes long and will contribute 40% to your final A level grade. The final 20% comes from you performance in an individual coursework project. This will require you to use your knowledge and skills developed during the course to research, design, program and test a piece of software that solves a practical problem of your own choosing.
In A level Computer Science you will discover the fundamental ideas behind computing. You will discover what really goes on inside a Computer, how data is transmitted between computers communicating over the Internet, how numbers, text, images, and sound can be stored and shared as a series of binary ones and zeros. You will learn about the logic gates inside the circuitry of a computer, how using an area of Maths called Boolean Algebra allows us to design new devices and you will study how hardware and software work together to make it all possible. The full list of topics is below:
You will need a number of course booklets, revision guides, computing equipment and software but everything you require will be provided, you contribute towards these as part of your course costs. Your teacher may recommend other books for study and revision but it is up to you whether you buy these or access them in the College Library.
With the pace of discovery and development ever increasing, the range of career opportunities for people with the skills that Science A levels provide are unimaginably diverse and you will always be in demand. Studying Science in our state of the art labs and project spaces will enable you to develop the necessary technical ability and knowledge to play your part. Whatever your talent, at QMC you will find customised support to meet your aspirations and successfully pursue your particular interests and goals.
Our Head of Department, Nick Everett will be happy to help.