Component 01 – Computer Systems
This component will introduce students to the internal workings of the Central Processing Unit (CPU), the exchange of data and will also look at software development, data types and legal and ethical issues. It will also offer the opportunity for students to analyse and design algorithms and to study different types of software together with the methodologies that are used to develop them. This component involves advanced mathematics, including the representation and normalisation of floating-point numbers, the simplification of Boolean expressions, the use of two’s complement to represent numbers in binary and using rules to derive or simplify Boolean expressions.
Component 02 – Algorithms and Programming
This component will incorporate and build on the knowledge and understanding gained in component 01. In addition, you will study:
- What is meant by computational thinking
- The benefits of applying computational thinking to solving a wide variety of problems
- The principles of solving problems by computational methods
- Using algorithms to describe problems
- Analysing a problem by identifying its component parts
This component focuses heavily on the reading and writing of complex algorithms including Dijkstra’s shortest path algorithm and the A* algorithm. Again, mathematics is a feature of this unit, including the use of Big-O notation to assess the complexity, in terms of time and space of an algorithm.
Component 03 – Programming Project
Students will be expected to analyse, design, develop, test, evaluate and document a program written in C# using the Unity development environment. The underlying approach to the project is to apply the principles of computational thinking to a practical coding problem. Students are expected to apply appropriate principles from an agile development approach to the project development. This project is independent, meaning students will need to debug their program and spend time focused on the development of a complex piece of software.
A good Computer Science A Level outcome is valued by universities and future employers, through the demonstration of analytical thinking and problem-solving skills. This course also lays an appropriate foundation for further study of computer science, artificial intelligence, engineering, physics, mathematics or related courses in higher education.