Computer Science

Computer Science is an in-depth study of how computer technology works. There has never been a more exciting time to study Computer Science - we are living in the Digital Age and using computers in most areas of our lives.

Curriculum

GCSE

Computer Science is all about problem solving and pupils who study the subject will acquire transferrable skills which are known to prove beneficial in other areas of study such as engineering, financial and resource management, science and medicine.

The Computer Science curriculum has some overlap with Mathematics and Physics and whilst competency in these subjects is not a pre-requisite, pupils who find Mathematics challenging, are advised to consider their course choice very carefully.

Course Content

At Glenalmond, we follow the OCR (9-1) J276 syllabus which is new for 2016.  The course has three components :-

Component 01 – Computer Systems (Written Exam - 40%)

Pupils will study the following topics:-

  • Systems Architecture

        This topic looks at the various hardware components that make up a computer system. The processor and main memory are studied in some detail and pupils will learn how these work together to run computer software.

  • Systems Software

        The operating system is the most important program that runs on any computer. Pupils will learn about the basic functions of an operating system from starting up the computer to file management, memory management, task scheduling and communicating with peripheral devices.

  • Systems Security

        One of the biggest challenges in the digital age is keeping computer data safe and secure.  Pupils will learn about the threats to system security and the various measures we can take to combat them.

  • Networks

        One of the most exciting developments to come out of Computer Science is that of communications and networks. Pupils will study local and wide area networks including the Internet. They will learn about the different configurations of networks as well as the various protocols which are essential to maintain data integrity and prevent collisions.

  • Ethical, legal, cultural, legal and environmental concerns

        As well as the operational aspects of Computer Science, pupils will also look at the myriad issues surrounding computers and their use in our society.

Component 02 – Computational Thinking, Algorithms and Programming (Written Exam - 40%)

The second component in the course takes a mainly practical format. Pupils will learn to write programs in a high level language such as Python or Visual basic. As well as simple sequence programs, they will learn how to solve problems, and handle data using a variety of programming techniques such as loops for repetitive tasks and complex “if conditions” for selection and decision-making.

A significant part of this module is devoted to computational thinking and pupils will learn how to approach problem solving in a structured and logical way using abstraction, decomposition and algorithmic thinking.

This module also includes the study of data representation and pupils will learn how computer technology can transform simple electrical signals into numbers, text, graphics, sound and video. This topic covers the binary, denary and hexadecimal number systems as well as Boolean algebra and truth tables.

Component 03 – Programming Project (Non Exam Assessment - 20%)

As part of GCSE Computer Science, pupils will undertake a 20-hour controlled assessment. This will take place during year two of the course.

Resources

At Glenalmond College, Computer Science is taught in a purpose-designed classroom with 22 networked PCs as well as a dedicated teaching area with multimedia teaching technology.

Software used includes Microsoft Office, Python, Visual Studio, Net Ops, Scratch, Audacity and Serif Suite.

Teaching

At GCSE, pupils have six lessons in each two week period.  Lessons are split between theory and practical work with more emphasis on practical ability in year two.

 

A Level

Computer Science is about solving an infinite range of real-world problems using computer technology.  The course is designed to develop computational thinking and problem solving skills, both of which are known to prove beneficial in other areas of study such as engineering, financial and resource management, science and medicine.

Course Description

Over the two years of this practical course you will learn to design and write programs using both low and high-level programming. You will also gain an understanding of the operation of hardware under the control of software, and study existing solutions in areas such as networks and communication, encryption and control systems.

You will be following the OCR H446 syllabus which was introduced in 2015.  It has three components:-

Component 01 – Computer Systems (Written Exam - 40%)

This component will introduce you to the internal workings of the Central Processing Unit (CPU) and the way in which data is stored, manipulated and communicated. Topics are as follows:-

  • The characteristics of contemporary processors, input, output and storage devices
  • Software and software development
  • Exchanging data (how data is exchanged between different systems)
  • Data types, data structures and algorithms
  • Legal, moral, cultural and ethical issues

This topic also covers the binary, denary and hexadecimal number systems as well as Boolean algebra and truth tables.

Component 02 – Algorithms and programming (Written Exam - 40%)

In this unit, you will study what is meant by computational thinking, and the benefits of applying this skill to solve a wide variety of real-world problems. Computational thinking involves approaching problem solving in a structured and logical way using abstraction, decomposition and algorithmic thinking.

You will also learn a wide range of programming techniques using high-level languages such as Python and Visual Basic as well as how to read and write simple programs in Assembly Code.

Component 03 - Programming project (Non-Exam Assessment – 20%)

For this component, you will analyse, design, develop, test, evaluate and document a program written in a suitable programming language for real users.

Recommended Entry Qualifications

Some degree of Mathematics is embedded throughout the new syllabus, therefore Grade B or better at GCSE Mathematics. Is recommended.

Teaching

At A Level, pupils have ten lessons in each two week period.  Lessons are split between theory and practical work with more emphasis on practical ability in year two.

Subject Combinations

In Higher Education, the diverse range of Computer Science related degrees mean that it can be combined with many different subjects.  Mathematics, Physics and Design and Technology are the obvious ones, but it can also be combined with those subjects which now incorporate digital technology such as Art, Music and Science.

Staff

Mr Gareth O'Neill, BSc, PGCE (Head of Department)

Mrs Jackie MacDonald, BSc, MLitt, Dip Ed