At GCSE students can choose to take WJEC GCSE Computer Science. The Computer Science GCSEs are part of a new raft of qualifications, and students study theoretical and practical programming topics. There are units on hardware and software, data and algorithms, programming solutions, networking and the internet, and legal and ethical aspects.
A controlled assessment project of 15 hours gives students the opportunity to investigate a problem, then design, build and test a solution: this is done using Python. In an online programming examination, student program solutions to questions in Java using Greenfoot. Finally, there is a theory paper involving short answer questions on binary, algorithms and other theoretical aspects.
Students learn founding principles of computing in class, and with speakers and trips, eg Raspberry Pi Bootcamps, reinforce its connection to life outside the classroom. Students are encouraged to pursue projects outside the classroom too, eg building servers, making apps and games.
Why study Computer Science?
It is projected that there will be 1,000,000 more computer science jobs than students by 2020; 71% of all STEM career openings will be in computer science related fields, but only 8% of STEM graduates are computer scientists.
“We simply cannot hire enough computer scientists and this seems madness at a time of such high youth unemployment… Companies like Rolls-Royce and GlaxoSmithKline depend on great programmers as much as games developers and visual effects companies do.”
Ian Livingstone, Life president, Eidos
If you like solving problems, e.g. Sudoku and logic puzzles, are good at lateral thinking, and are creative you will enjoy computer science. It is about the logical problem solving, design and implementation of computer systems and software.
Computer science is a swiftly moving field that unites many disciplines, like, mathematics, programming, engineering, philosophy and ethics. It opens an array of career paths and appears individually or jointly in a range of courses, for example Computer Science & Games Technology, Computer Science and Web Technologies and Computer Science with Artificial Intelligence.
GCSE Computer Science is not a prerequisite for A level Computer Science; a good grade at GCSE Maths is necessary though. Students should also be passionate and curious, and keen to build and code outside class too.
A level Mathematics is not essential to take Computer Science but students who also take A level Mathematics will find elements of this course easier to grasp. Students considering taking Computer Science at university should also consider A level Mathematics.
Our previous students have interned and now work with companies like Google, SkyScanner, QinetiQ, and 3M.
Our students have also gained awards for achieving A level grades in the top 50 in the UK. Many have attained places at top universities, or gone straight to industry, e.g. GCHQ or Renishaw.
“Our policy at Facebook is literally to hire as many talented engineers as we can find. There just aren’t enough people who are trained and have these skills today.”
Mark Zuckerberg , Founder, Facebook
Computer Science is currently taught at Monmouth School for Boys.
Monmouth School for Boys Head of Department: Ms L A Hope
Board: AQA A level Syllabus Code: 7517
- Data structures
- Theory of computation
- Data representation
- Computer systems
- Computer organisation and architecture
- Consequences of uses of computing
- Communication and networking
- Big Data
- Functional programming
- Systematic approach to problem solving
- Non-exam assessment – the computing practical project
Method of assessment
Paper 1 (40% of A level).
2½ hour on-screen exam with short and extended answer questions testing topics from sections 1 to 4 above, and programming and problem solving skills based on a pre-released skeleton program.
Paper 2 (40% of A level).
2½ hour written exam with short and extended answer questions testing topics from sections 5 to 12 above.
Non-exam assessment (20% of A level).
A project systematically exploring a problem and developing a fully programmed solution. This allows students to choose an area of interest, explore it in greater depth, extending their programming skills and deepening their understanding of computer science.
Around 50% of our A level Computing students go on to study Computer Science. In recent years students have gone to Cambridge, St Andrews, Edinburgh and Durham universities to pursue Computer Science. However students have also taken apprenticeship routes for example into GCHQ and Renishaw. Others still have taken combined courses like Computing with French, Computer Science and Philosophy, or Games Development.
Computing is a swift-moving, broad and creative subject opening the doors to diverse careers in industry, commerce, research and government. It supports many other fields, e.g. Engineering, biotechnology and finance. The latest Association of Graduate Recruiters survey states IT posts are among the most numerous graduate jobs with some of the highest starting salaries, while monster.co.uk (‘the world’s leading career network’), says ‘graduates with degrees in mathematical sciences and informatics are likely to obtain jobs with higher starting salaries than graduates in other disciplines.’