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Computer Science

COVID-19 has brought the importance of technology and computer science sharply into focus. What was once seen as a niche subject is now understood to be fundamental to society, and the population at large for the first time understands the true meaning of algorithmic bias. Computer Science is mainstream, and a critical skill in this fast moving world. There is no better time to study computer science.

Computer Science is the study of how computers and computer systems work, and how they are constructed and programmed. It enables you to solve problems, design systems, and understand the power and limits of human and machine intelligence. You will develop a unique way of thinking about issues, problems and situations that uses the powers of logic, algorithm, precision and abstraction, called computational thinking. This influences fields far beyond those you might imagine, including biology, chemistry, linguistics, medicine, psychology, economics and statistics.

Computer Science encourages innovation, creativity, resourcefulness and resilience. It empowers us to move from being consumers of technology to producers and shapers of technology. Computer science enables us to understand and contribute to debate about societal issues involving computation, such as software patents, identity theft, genetic engineering, electronic voting systems for elections, complex modern financial trading systems, and so on. And how many of us can watch a movie these days without being amazed by the wizardry of the talented individuals creating the effects on the computers?

Computer Science will inspire and challenge you to apply the knowledge you gain and the creative and technical skills you build to explore new areas in technological development. It prepares you for a world that does not yet exist, involving technologies that have not yet been invented, and that will present technical and ethical challenges of which we are not yet aware.

Course Content

Topics studied are:

♦ Fundamentals of programming

♦ Problem solving and the theory of computation

♦ Data representation

♦ Hardware and software

♦ Computer organisation and architecture

♦ Communication: technology and consequences

♦ Data structures

♦ Algorithms

♦ Regular languages

♦ The Internet

♦ Databases and software development

♦ Object-orientated programming and functional programming

Assessment

Paper 1: Programming and the theory of computation 2 hour 30 minute on-screen exam (40%)

Paper 2: Theory of computing 2 hour 30 minute written exam (40%)

Individual programming project: Extended coursework project starting in the summer of the Lower Sixth and completed by Easter in the Upper Sixth (20%)

Further Study and Employment

Opportunities abound in computer science and related fields: university degrees include Computer Science, Information Systems, Cybersecurity, Data Science and many more; you could join one of a range of degree level apprenticeships with employers such as GCHQ and JP Morgan; and there are a broad range of post-degree employment options.

In an uncertain economic climate, Computer Science is an excellent choice.

Sandra Davis, Head of Computer Science

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