Computer Science

LEVEL: A Level – Linear


Computer Science is an exciting subject that encourages students to think creatively, logically and critically and to develop advanced problem solving skills.
Students will build on their GCSE skills to gain an understanding of a wide range of complex, sometimes abstract, data structures and to develop algorithms that manipulate their data. Algorithms will be implemented using a variety of programming paradigms including procedural, object oriented and functional techniques. Python is the main programming language used on the course.
In the second year of the course, students will use their skills to develop a substantial system for the non-exam assessment (NEA) component. At this stage some students chose to teach themselves a new language and/or to program for a different hardware platform (e.g. mobile phone applications).

A-level specifications in computer science must encourage students to develop:

  • an understanding of, and the ability to apply, the fundamental principles and concepts of computer science, including abstraction, decomposition, logic, algorithms and data representation
  • the ability to analyse problems in computational terms through practical experience of solving such problems, including writing programs to do so
  • the capacity for thinking creatively, innovatively, analytically, logically and critically
  • the capacity to see relationships between different aspects of computer science
  • mathematical skills related to:
  • Boolean algebra
  • comparison and complexity of algorithms 
  • number representations and bases.
  • the ability to articulate the individual (moral), social (ethical), legal and cultural opportunities and risks of digital technology.


• The characteristics of contemporary processors, input, output and storage devices
• Software and software development
• Exchanging data
• Data types, data structures and algorithms
• Legal, moral, cultural and ethical issues
• Elements of computational thinking
• Problem solving and programming
• Algorithms to solve problems and standard algorithms

The learner will choose a computing problem to work through according to the guidance in the specification.
• Analysis of the problem
• Design of the solution
• Developing the solution
• Evaluation


Component 1 - Computer systems
140 marks
2 hours and 30 minutes
written paper
(no calculators allowed)
40% of total A level

Component 2 - Algorithms and programming
140 marks
2 hours and 30 minutes
written paper
(no calculators allowed)
40% of total A level

Programming project
70 marks
Non-exam assessment
20% of total A level

The specification has been designed to prepare students who wish to go on to higher level courses (e.g. a degree in Computer Science or Cybersecurity) or into employment, where the ability to program and enhanced knowledge of computer systems is of value.

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