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GCSE Computer Science

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The Subject

Computer Science, like mathematics, underpins a huge range of subjects, and has concepts and ways of working that do not change quickly over time, including programming, algorithms and data structures. A key skill that is developed is ‘computational thinking’ and this offers insightful ways to view how information operates in many natural and engineered systems. Another core skill in Computer Science is computer programming which while seeming esoteric, is the closest that a student can come to thinking about thinking. It develops logic, rigour and problem solving and has led to Computer Science being dubbed ‘the new Latin’.

The Course

The course is a mixture of both theory and practical program development. The theory of Computer Science is examined over two examination papers each worth 40% of the overall GCSE. Topics covered include problem solving, data, communication, programming, computers and the Internet and the bigger picture. The remainder of the course consists of developing a computer programs using a high-level language in this case Python that are marked and assessed internally. This program is selected from four possible assignments set by the examination board. The assignment will involve following the Systems Development  Life Cycle and producing documentation consisting of analysis, design, coding and testing.  

The subject of Computer Science is highly creative. This may seem self evident in the case of computer games, electronic art and computer generated music, but these examples from the creative industries perhaps conceal the fact that writing any computer program involves creativity in the virtual universe behind the screen. A well written computer program contains an intrinsic beauty and structure not unlike poetry.

This qualification develops student’s ability to apply ‘computational thinking’ and has a specification with a trusted approach and clear assessments accessible to all. It also fosters skills and knowledge for progression to further study.  

No previous experience of computer programming is required and the course is suitable for students who have no intention of pursuing computing beyond GCSE but who may, nonetheless, wish to apply the mental disciplines involved to other science or arts subjects.

During the year you can expect trips to the National Museum of Computing as well as the Science Museum.

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