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GCSE Computer Science Course

Exam Board and Specification Code: AQA (8520)

The Course
Though the modern computer can trace its history back over 150 years, in recent decades the field of Computer Science has seen rapid change.  Computers, which used to fill entire rooms, became smaller and smaller, until we could carry them around – or even wear them on our wrists. Yet, they are more powerful than ever before. In fact, the Apollo 11, which took Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the moon in 1969, contained only a tiny fraction of the computing power we carry around in our smartphones, or even compared to a regular, modern, scientific calculator.

Computers have penetrated every field of human endeavour. Many different types of information can be stored, processed or transferred around the world almost instantly. A single picture or message can be posted online and be trending around the world, viewed by millions, in a matter of minutes. We have seen the rise of virtual meeting rooms and online classrooms. Planes can take off, fly and land on autopilot. Artificially
intelligent computers can beat world champions at complex games, or help doctors diagnose patients. Cars can drive themselves and robots can work together to conduct a medical operation.

There are just a few examples of applications of computer science – a broad field which looks at the principles of how computers work and can do the things they do.

What will I learn in GCSE Computer Science?
You will learn about the different hardware and software components that make up a computer system and how they work, both physically and logically. You will also learn about how computers represent different types of data, such as text, sound and images. The subject also has a strong practical dimension, as you will not only learn about how a computer system can be programmed to achieve different objectives, but also begin to write your own computer programs using Python—a powerful, modern-day, high-level programming language which is behind some of the world’s most popular web applications including Google, Instagram, Uber, Netflix and Spotify.

Which subjects combine well with Computer Science?
Many of the skills which are at the heart of Computer Science are also developed in the study of Mathematics, a CORE subject at GCSE level.  Computer Science skills are highly transferrable, and the subject has applications in all fields -- from science and engineering, to art and music.

How is the Course Assessed?

Paper 1: Computational Thinking and Problem Solving (50% of GCSE) programming

Paper 2: Written Assessment (50 of  GCSE) Theoretical Knowledge

Programming Project: Computer program and written report

Reading

AQA GCSE (9-1) Computer Science: S Robinson & P M Heathcote (PG Online Limited: ISBN 978-1910523094)

Learning to Program in Python By PM Heathcote, PG Online Limited, ISBN: 9781910523117

 

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