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Course Description

This course covers the fundamentals of computer science, including programming, data structures, algorithms, and computer systems. It is designed to develop students’ computational thinking skills and problem-solving abilities through practical programming projects and theoretical concepts.

Students will learn how to program using a high-level language such as Python, how to design and implement data structures and algorithms to solve problems, and how to understand the basic architecture of computer systems. They will also learn about the social, legal, ethical, and environmental implications of computing, and how to evaluate the effectiveness of different solutions.

How will I be assessed?

This course is assessed by two external exams at the end of year 11. Both papers are 1 hour 30 minutes in length and worth 50% of the total GCSE. Mathematical content will also be assessed, however, students are not allowed to use a calculator in the exam.

Paper 1: 1 hr 30 min written paper, 50% of the total GCSE (no calculator allowed)

  • 1.1 Systems architecture 
  • 1.2 Memory and storage
  • 1.3 Computer networks, connections and protocols
  • 1.4 Network security
  • 1.5 System software
  • 1.6 Ethical, legal, cultural and environmental impacts of digital technology 

Paper 2: 1 hr 30 min written paper, 50% of the total GCSE (no calculator allowed)

  • 2.1 Algorithms 
  • 2.2 Programming fundamentals
  • 2.3 Producing robust programs
  • 2.4 Boolean logic 
  • 2.5 Programming languages and Integrated Development Environments

What will I learn?

Paper 1: Computer systems


Knowledge & Skills

  • Systems Architecture
  • Memory
  • Storage
  • Wired and wireless networks
  • Network topologies, protocols and layers
  • System security
  • System software
  • Ethical, legal, cultural and environmental concerns

Fundamentals of computer systems:

  • Understand the function of hardware components in a computer system
  • Understand how data is represented in binary and hexadecimal
  • Understand the concept of a CPU and its role in executing instructions
  • Understand the concept of memory and storage

Data representation:

  • Understand how data is represented in binary, hexadecimal, and denary
  • Understand how to convert between binary, hexadecimal, and denary
  • Understand the concept of ASCII and Unicode encoding

Computer networks:

  • Understand the concept of a network and its components
  • Understand the difference between LANs, WANs, and the internet
  • Understand the concept of protocols and their role in network communication
  • Understand the OSI and TCP/IP network models.

It also introduces students to ethical use of computers and how to be safe from cyber attacks.


Knowledge & Skills

This paper is heavily based on Python Programming. 

  • Algorithms
  • Programming techniques
  • Producing robust programs
  • Computational logic
  • Translators and facilities of languages
  • Data representation
  • Applying knowledge of data representation to convert between different number bases
  • Analysing computer architecture to understand how different components work together
  • Implementing algorithms in a programming language and analysing their efficiency
  • Writing code using programming concepts such as data types, operators, and control structures
  • Testing and debugging code to identify and fix errors
  • Understanding the layers of the network stack and how protocols work at each layer
  • Applying Boolean algebra to simplify logic expressions and design logic circuits
  • Analysing operating systems to understand how they manage resources
  • Using SQL to create and query databases
  • Considering ethical, legal, and environmental concerns when making computing decisions.

The skills and knowledge developed within this component will support the learner when completing the Programming Project.


Knowledge & Skills

  • Programming techniques
  • Analysis
  • Design
  • Development
  • Testing and evaluation and conclusions
  • Students use OCR Programming Project tasks to develop their practical ability in the skills developed in components 01 and 02.
  • They will have the opportunity to define success criteria from a given problem, and then create suitable algorithms to achieve the success criteria.
  • Students then code their solutions in a suitable programming language, and check its functionality using a suitable and documented test plan.
  • Finally they will evaluate the success of their solution and reflect on potential developments for the future.

What could I do next?

If a student is interested in pursuing a career in Computer Science or a related field, they could consider continuing their studies at the college or university level. They could explore degree programs in Computer Science, Software Engineering, or Information Technology, among others. Students could also explore related careers that don’t require a degree in Computer Science but still involve technology. For example, they could consider becoming a web developer, data analyst, or digital marketer.

Students who want to enter the workforce directly after finishing school could consider taking a vocational route. They could look for apprenticeships or internships in the tech industry or pursue a vocational qualification in a related field, such as networking or cybersecurity.

Finally, it’s also important to remember that the skills learned in Computer Science are transferable to many other fields and can be valuable in a variety of careers. A student could explore different paths, such as business, law, or creative fields, and apply their problem-solving and critical thinking skills to those areas.