Sixth Form: Computer Science

Subject Overview

We are following the OCR specification at the moment as it follows directly on from the GCSE course we have been teaching.

You will study a broad range of topics which broadly split into Computing Principles and Computer Systems, and Algorithms, Programming and Problem Solving. You will have to complete a project as well as two examinations.

Computing Principles and Computer Systems includes operating systems, introduction to programming, data types, data representation, and data structures, algorithms, exchanging data and web technologies, using Boolean algebra, legal, moral and ethical issues, software and its development, types of programming languages,
Algorithms and Problem Solving requires you to demonstrate how computational thinking, programming techniques, pattern recognition, abstraction and decomposition, software development methodologies, and algorithm design and efficiency can be used to solve problems.

Teaching is based on lectures, practical programming tasks, discussions and exercises to consolidate your knowledge. Students will be using a mix of online and paper based resources and it is essential that access to a computer is available at home. The computer does not need to have a high specification.

The full A level qualification has 3 units of work which consist of 2 exams and a project. The examination structure is like this:




2.5 hours



2.5 hours





In the second exam, you will be writing code, by hand, on the exam paper. For this you will be required to produce a program in either Python, VB.Net or Java as well as answering some short answer questions and possibly debugging a program provided by the exam board. The school currently teaches Python, but if you are self-taught in VB or Java you will, obviously, be able to use that language in the exam if you are more proficient in it.

(There are exam boards which offer on-screen coding exams. These sound very much better than the paper based versions but are often very stressful for students and require extra time preparing to an exam board task. This can be distracting in a period of generalised exam preparation.)

Entry Requirements

Standard entry requirements.

You should be aware that you are unlikely to succeed at this course if you have less than a 5 in English and Maths, and those candidates who have completed the GCSE in Computing/Computer Science and attained at least a grade B will be at a significant advantage. If you have anything less than a grade C in Computing/Computer Science at GCSE we recommend that you find another A level course.

For students who have not had the opportunity to study GCSE Computing/Computer Science it is important that they bring a portfolio of work showing their outside interest and developing skills in the arena of Computer Science so that we can benchmark both ability and suitability.

Syllabus (Course Outline and Structure)

OCR is used because it builds on the GCSE foundations we have established, and has a content based on the needs of both academia and apprenticeship requirements. Many students who are keen on Computer Science are finding that an apprenticeship route is the most financially advantageous.

Activities and trips

We have no fixed cycle of trips. There are some trips which are possible in the future but we have not run any yet. Suggestions are always welcome.

We are developing links with industry and have been lucky enough to have speakers come into school and talk with the students. This year both IBM and Mike Brooman (of Vanti) have arranged to speak with our students.

You are expected to help with Cake and Coding which will run on one lunchtime a week for most weeks of the year. You are not expected to provide cake (though you may), you are invited to eat cake and support the students from lower school.

Expected Costs

You are expected to have a computer, but it does not have to be an expensive one. You are expected to be able to connect to the internet with broadband. After that, there are no costs at this stage.We aim to keep costs to a minimum, but will recommend suitable revision guides if they are available.

Complementary Subject Combinations and Enrichment Activities

Students who have enjoyed the challenge of GCSE Computing have demanded this course. We also know that there are often students who are studying the Physics/Maths combinations who search for a fourth A level. By offering this course at A level we hope to provide for the needs of these students. Students who like problem solving and those students who are aiming for some of those courses/careers mentioned below will find this course useful.

If you want to be working in an area that you think has no link to computers e.g. medicine, you will find the ability to program, or extend the facilities of your computer(s) really helpful, but the diverse range of fields which computer science addresses is enormous and expanding.

Subject Resources

The text book “OCR A Level Computer Science” was released in April 2015, ISBN 978-1471839764; you may wish to purchase it. We aim to be fully resourced within the school without the need for text books. There is a free app currently available from ocr which you may find useful.

Schemes of Work

The exam board have produced some sample curriculum guides and co-teaching guides. We are developing one that is based on these documents but is a closer fit for our timetable and the needs of our students. At the beginning of each academic the full lesson outline for each year is made available to students.

Past Papers

Since this is a new qualification there are none specifically for this.  Previous specification exams are available on the exam board website with the mark schemes and the examiners' reports, all of which are essential background reading for the student who wants to succeed.

Courses references

Useful Links

You may want to study Computer Science at University (UWE, Coventry, Cambridge), or you may want to work and know that the ability to understand a little more about Computers and Programming would be useful. If you are looking for the apprenticeship route IBM and capgemini are two companies (amongst many) who have websites which you may find useful

Multimedia links

Other information

Computer Science changes all the time; and the ability to think creatively in the abstract, solve problems, use algorithms and mathematical reasoning and appreciate the value of logic is a useful stepping stone for careers across many scientific and engineering disciplines.

This course is a useful building block for courses and businesses where skills of logic and problem solving are required and an understanding of computer programming is an advantage. Specific courses could include degrees in Engineering, Mathematics, Physics or any other numerate logical degree and, of course, the ever changing and ever expanding world of Computing in its many forms.

  • Application Development
  • Games Programming
  • Information Systems
  • Mobile and Embedded Systems
  • Networking
  • Security and Forensics
  • Systems and Software
  • Web Systems Development
  • IT Management for Business