Computer Science

A Level Computer Science is an exciting but demanding subject that will help you develop an analytical, problem-solving approach, which is sometimes called 'computational thinking’. The course will equip you with the fundamentals of problem-solving, which you will put into practice by developing computer programs using Visual Basic .NET. It is crucial that you spend time every week developing your programming skills outside lessons. In the second year of the course, you will undertake a significant programming project which you will choose yourself. 

In A Level Computer Science, students learn the principles of computation and algorithms, computer programming, machine data representation, computer systems (hardware and software), computer organisation and architecture, communications and networking, databases and the consequences of using computing

Computer Science is a discipline which requires thinking both in abstract and in concrete terms. On a higher level, computer science is concerned with problem solving: modelling and analysing problems, designing solutions, and implementing them. Problem solving requires precision, creativity, and careful reasoning.

About the course

Computer Science is a practical subject where students can apply the academic principles learned in the classroom to real-world systems. It’s an intensely creative subject that combines invention and excitement, and can look at the natural world through a digital prism.

The aims of this qualification are to enable learners to develop:

  • An understanding and ability to apply the fundamental principles and concepts of computer science, including: abstraction, decomposition, logic, algorithms and data representation
  • The ability to analyse problems in computational terms through practical experience of solving such problems, including writing programs to do so
  • The capacity to think creatively, innovatively, analytically, logically and critically
  • The capacity to see relationships between different aspects of computer science
  • Mathematical skills

Course content

The content of this A Level in Computer Science is divided into three components:

  1. Computer systems component - this contains the majority of the content of the specification and is assessed in a written paper recalling knowledge and understanding of algorithms and programming
  2. Component 2 relates principally to problem solving skills needed by learners to apply the knowledge and understanding encountered in Component 1
  3. Programming project - a practical portfolio based assessment with a task that is chosen by the teacher or learner and is produced in an appropriate programming language of the learner’s or teacher’s choice

The A Level Computer Science includes the following topics:

  • The characteristics of contemporary processors, input, output and storage devices
  • Software and software development
  • Exchanging data
  • Data types, data structures and algorithms
  • Legal, moral, cultural and ethical issues
  • Elements of computational thinking
  • Problem solving and programming
  • Algorithms to solve problems and standard algorithms

Where does this lead?

The course will prepare you for continued study at university/degree level and various possible career pathways thereafter. Degree programmes may include:

  • Computer Science
  • Information Systems
  • Software Engineering
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Health Informatics
  • Motion Graphics and Computing

The Sheffield College offer a variety of Higher Education courses including degree courses - this A Level can lead onto these higher level programmes.

Students may also choose to pursue a Degree Apprenticeships such as:

  • Cyber Intrusion Specialist
  • Cyber Security Technologist
  • Data Analyst
  • Software Developer/Tester
  • Network Engineer

Future opportunities

There are a variety of career opportunities that may be open to students with a Computer Science A Level, including:

  • Software Developer
  • Information Security Analysts
  • Computer Systems Analysts
  • Computer and Information Systems Manager
  • Computer and Information Research Scientists
  • Computer Network Architect
  • Network and Computer Systems Administrators
  • Database Administrator
  • Web Developer
  • Computer Support Specialists
  • Cybersecurity Consultant
  • Games Developer


Learners must take three components to be awarded the OCR A Level in Computer Science. This includes:

  • Exam 1 – Computer Systems
  • Exam 2 – Algorithms and Programming and a Programming Project

The external exams are worth 40% each and are 2 hours and 30 minutes. The Programming Project is worth 20% of the total marks and is a non-exam assessment. 

Tell me more

Trips and visits

Educational trips and visiting speakers will support the teaching of this A Level. It is expected that students will attend any education visits and visiting speakers as due to the nature of establishments and the availability of speakers, these may be at times outside of normal timetabled classes. There may be costs associated with educational visits and students may be asked to contribute towards transport and any entry fees for places of visits.

Personal study time

A Level students are expected to devote as much time outside the classroom to their studies as in lessons. Homework will be set regularly but students are expected to undertake self-directed research as well

Students are also expected to complete work experience alongside their A Levels. This can be done in a variety of different ways including volunteering, youth work, victim support, police special.*

*Please note – some of these opportunities are age-related and may need an enhanced DBS.

  • Course: P00315
  • Start Date: September 2023
  • Level: 3
  • Area: A Levels
  • Campus: City Campus
  • Category: School Leavers

Typical entry requirements:

To study 3 A Levels

5 GCSEs at grade 4 or higher, including English Language and Maths 

Please note:

  • BTEC or vocational qualifications will not be accepted in place of GCSEs
  • International applicants must also have IELTS 6.0


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