A-level Computer Science


General Certificate of Education in Computer Science


Available for students with the minimum requirements for Level 3 entry into NUAST.


1 x A Level



Course Description

This is the traditional course that usually leads to studying Computer Science at University. You will develop an understanding of the main principles of solving problems using computers. You will also learn practical programming skills using Python and a range of alternative languages from different paradigms.

You will develop your computational thinking skills. The course covers:

  1. Fundamentals of programming
  2. Fundamentals of data structures
  3. Fundamentals of algorithms
  4. Theory of computation
  5. Fundamentals of data representation
  6. Fundamentals of computer systems
  7. Fundamentals of computer organisation and architecture
  8. Consequences of uses of computing
  9. Fundamentals of communication and networking
  10. Fundamentals of databases
  11. Big data
  12. Fundamentals of functional programming
  13. Systematic approaches to problem solving
  14. The computing practical project (Non-exam assessment)

The AS and A2 Level course consists of 2 papers. The AS papers do not contribute to the A2 grades. Both AS and A2 are standalone qualifications. AS is one year and A2 is two years in duration.

At present we only intend on running the full A2 level qualification which will be examined with the following examinations in June 2017 for the first time:

  • Specification code: 7517
  • QAN code: 601/4569/9

The examinations to be taken will involve the following:

Paper 1

This paper tests a student's ability to program, as well as their theoretical knowledge of Computer Science from subject content 1 to 4 above and the skills required from section 13 above.

Students answer a series of short questions and write/adapt/extend programs in an Electronic Answer Document provided by us. The exam board issues Preliminary Material, a Skeleton Program and, where appropriate, test data, for use in the exam. The paper is an on-screen exam with a duration of 2 hours 30 minutes and contributes to 40% of the email overall.

Paper 2

This paper tests a student's ability to program, as well as their theoretical knowledge of Computer Science from subject content 5 to 12 above.

Students answer compulsory short-answer and extended-answer questions. The paper is a written exam with a duration of 2 hours 30 minutes and contributes to 40% of the email overall.

Non-exam assessment (Final Year Project)

The non-exam assessment assesses student's ability to use the knowledge and skills gained through the course to solve a practical problem. Students will be expected to follow a systematic approach to problem solving, as shown in section 14 above. The assessment will contribute to 20% of the overall qualification.

The project will form a large part of the second year and students will be required to independently establish a working relationship with a realistic client in which to develop a software solution involving a range of technology and techniques.

This course is aimed at students wanting a specialist computing qualification prior to studying computer science or a similar degree and demands fairly high levels of logic or mathematical ability.

Entry Requirements

To study at Level 3, you will need a Grade A*-C in both GCSE English and GCSE Mathematics plus three other GCSE or equivalent qualifications.

Assessed By

Portfolio of Evidence - Practical Examination, Written Examination

Leads to

This qualification forms part of the entry requirements for progression to higher education or employment. The qualification can be counted as points or grades for entry.

Potential Careers

Computing is a practical subject which will serve you well if you’re looking to follow a similarly practical subject while at University. You will have learnt how to approach problem solving in a methodical way, and this means that you will be able to apply these skills at University or if you choose to apply for a job. Degree subjects that you may want to apply for include engineering, computer science, or even combining one of these with another subject.

Student Comment

"I chose to study Computing because it is real life computing and you get to learn how computers work as opposed to just using them for work. I particularly enjoyed the programming element of the course and intend to continue my computing studies at university once I have finished my A levels."

Further information


November 2021


View the calendar in full

Computer Science News

View more news stories