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St Helen and St Katharine, Faringdon Road, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, OX14 1BE

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Computer Science

OCR

'At its heart lies the notion of computational thinking: a mode of thought that goes well beyond software and hardware, and that provides a framework within which to reason about systems and problems.'

CAS-Computer Science: A curriculum for schools

Computers are all-pervasive in modern life and computer science is the discipline that has made this possible. In A-level Computer Science students will learn advanced techniques for programming high-level languages such as Python and JavaScript, but also will learn how to program low-level programming languages, including assembly and object oriented.

The course provides the opportunity to learn about the structure of the processor, how programs are translated into the 1s and 0s that the processor can understand, database design, network infrastructure, modern web technologies and elements of law related to computer use.

Topics studied

There is a fairly high level of mathematics involved, including Boolean Algebra and algorithms such as Google’s Page Rank and Dijkstra’s shortest path and how to measure the efficiency of algorithms using Big O notation. Computational thinking is a big part of the new syllabus. Students will be taught how to think abstractly to work out ways to solve problems, how to decompose a problem, breaking it down into manageable pieces and how to think logically. The practical element affords the opportunity for students to apply all these skills to a project of their choice, by writing a coded solution to a non-trivial problem. This provides ample opportunity for those who are already competent programmers to challenge their abilities.

The time will be split roughly 50:50 between understanding how computer systems work and the development of technical and programming skills. The skills include coding with Python, SQL, JavaScript, assembly language and algorithm design and testing. In particular the latter will challenge and enhance computational thinking skills and problem-solving methods. Students will be taught in small groups with both teacher-lead and independent learning and working time.

Paper 1 (40%): Computer systems

This unit deals with the workings of computer, programming languages, networking and Boolean Algebra as well as legal, moral and ethical issues.

Paper 2 (40%): Algorithms and programming

This unit deals with computational thinking, recursion and other programming techniques and a variety of algorithms.

Non-exam assessment (20%): Programming project

Students choose a computing problem and develop a programmed solution. They will go through a full systems development lifecycle producing clear documentation to support their findings.

Who to contact

Miss E Spreadbury, Head of Computer Science