Important Entry Requirement & Application Update
Once you've applied, you will be invited to attend a virtual information event at the beginning of 2021. At this event, you will have the opportunity to find out more about your course, meet the staff and ask any questions that you may have.
If your course requires an interview you will receive an email with details about your video call. There will be no need for you to come on site. Don't worry if you don't receive an email about an interview, not every course needs one.
When applying for A Levels there is no need for you to enter all of your preferred subject choices.
Is this course right for me?
Are you interested in learning computer programming and gaining an advanced understanding of computer systems? This course will provide opportunities for you to develop computer software in an industry-standard programming language such as Java, as well as internet web pages and databases. It will introduce you to the technical aspects of computer systems hardware and networking.
The course can prepare you for studying Computer Science at Higher Education level. It can also be valuable preparation for a career which involves computing, for example: in science, technology, business or the media.
The course can be taken as part of a full-time programme of study, in conjunction with other AS/A Level subjects, or possibly with vocational Level 3 qualifications.
The course can also be taken on a part-time basis by mature students.
The Computer Science qualification has been designed to give an in-depth understanding of the fundamental concepts of computer science and to incorporate the many exciting developments which are currently taking place in computing.
Students will have an opportunity to analyse and solve problems through the practical experience of designing, developing and testing computer software.
During the course, students will develop a range of broader transferrable skills which will be valuable for study in Higher Education and for employment, including: logical thinking, design creativity, problem solving, mathematical and communication skills, and an appreciation of the many important roles of computing in contemporary society.
AS Computer Science
The AS specification consists of two units which include a wide variety of contemporary topics.
Unit 1: Fundamentals of Computer Science
Unit 2: Practical Programming to Solve Problems
The theoretical study of computing principles is closely linked to the practical use of these concepts in computing applications. The topics covered by the modules include:
Hardware and communication
- A study of the hardware components of computer systems, including electronic memory, input and output devices, and secondary data storage.
- The fetch-execute cycle, examining how programs are run by the processor.
- Networking, including a study of the Internet. The operation of communication networks using network protocols.
- Serial and parallel transmission of data.
Data representation and data types
- The binary number system, and storage of characters in binary form
- Binary arithmetic techniques
- Applying logic operations in programming, including the use of Boolean algebra.
Data structures and Organisation of data
- Using arrays and records, and selecting appropriate data structures for given situations.
- Master and transaction files. Sequential, indexed and random file access.
- File security, including file backup, generations of files and transaction logs.
- Data validation and verification.
- Relational databases, entity relationship modelling and its use in analysing data processing problems.
The operating system
- The role of the operating system in managing resources, including: input and output devices, processes, memory protection and backing store.
- Batch processing, real time control and real time transaction systems.
Algorithms and programs
- The use of constants and variables in algorithms and programs.
- Mathematical and logic operations in programs. The characteristics of sorting and searching algorithms.
- Developing programs which make use of selection and repetition.
- The benefits of a modular approach to programming.
Principles of programming
- Features of different types of programming languages, including procedural, event-driven, visual and mark-up languages.
- The object-oriented approach to programming, and the relationship between objects, classes and methods.
- Differences between high-level and low-level languages. Identifying situations that require the use of a high level or a low-level language.
- The purpose of a feasibility study in ensuring that a proposed solution will be cost effective, developed to an agreed time scale and within an agreed budget.
- Investigation and analysis methods, including direct observation, questionnaires, study of existing documentation and interviews.
- The selection of suitable software and hardware to address the requirements of a problem.
- The various methods of changeover: direct, pilot, phased and parallel running.
- Program testing by alpha, beta and acceptance testing methods.
- Perfective, adaptive and corrective maintenance.
- The use of Integrated Development Environment tools in developing and debugging programs.
- Compilers, interpreters and assemblers
- Industrial, technical and scientific software including, for example, the role of the computer in weather forecasting, computer aided design, robotics and the use of computer generated graphics and animation.
- Designing, documenting and developing a functional prototype for a given problem.
- Demonstrating an understanding of program code by producing annotated listings.
- Evaluating programs to identify the successful features, and to make suggestions for improving less successful aspects of the system.
Data security and integrity processes
- The dangers that can arise from the use of computers in terms of privacy and security for files of personal data.
- Processes that protect the security and integrity of data, including: levels of permitted access, passwords for access and write-protect mechanisms.
- Disaster planning, to handle various potential threats to computer systems.
In order to qualify for this course, you will need the following:
- 6 GCSEs at grade C or above, including English or Welsh 1st Language
- GCSE Mathamatics grade B
As part of the application process, you will be asked to attend an interview to give you the opportunity to discuss the course.
Progression to A Level is based on your performance at AS Level.
The course is delivered through a blend of the following:
- Classroom learning
- Practical programming and computer hardware workshop sessions
- Computing case studies
- Individual student projects.
Year one of the course is assessed by two external examinations in June:
- A theory paper, covering aspects of computer systems and programming
- A practical examination, in which students will carry out a programming task.
Year two of the course is assessed by:
- A theory paper, taken in June, covering more advanced aspects of computer systems and programming
- A practical programming project which is submitted in May. The project topic will be selected by the student in consultation with their tutor.
Whether you gain the full A Level or just the AS Level, the course adds to your qualifications and helps you to progress. You will gain UCAS points and be able to apply for a range of Higher Education courses at many institutions, including Grŵp Llandrillo Menai. This includes degrees in Computer Science and related subjects, as well as many other options.
The course is good preparation for a range of undergraduate courses, whilst the skills acquired can also benefit students seeking employment. The course provides numerous opportunities for you to develop and apply key skills, as well as developing your attitudes, perceptions and values in a subject with high relevance to everyday life.