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GCSE Computer Science

Why study GCSE Computer science?

Computers are changing every part of our lives at an ever-increasing rate – so if you are…

  • A programming enthusiast
  • A problem solver
  • An independent learner or
  • Logically minded then…

This course may be for you.

Computer science is a mix of both theoretical and practical elements. Students will understand the components that make up digital systems and how they communicate with one another and with other systems. They will apply the fundamental principles and concepts of Computer Science, including abstraction, decomposition, logic, algorithms, and data representation. Students will understand the impacts of digital technology to the individual and to wider society.

Students will apply their theoretical knowledge of computer systems and will analyse problems in computational terms through practical experience of solving such problems, including designing, writing and debugging programs.

Students are given the opportunity to undertake a programming task which allows them to develop their skills to design, write, test and refine programs using a high-level programming language. These skills will be assessed during the written examinations.

Computer Science Options Information Video

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Paper 1: Principles of Computer Science (*Paper code: 1CP2/01)

Content overview

This paper will assess Topics 1 to 5.

  • Topic 1: Computational thinking – understanding of what algorithms are, what they are used for and how they work; ability to follow, amend and write algorithms; ability to construct truth tables.
  • Topic 2: Data – understanding of binary, data representation, data storage and compression.
  • Topic 3: Computers – understanding of hardware and software components of computer systems and characteristics of programming languages.
  • Topic 4: Networks – understanding of computer networks and network security.
  • Topic 5: Issues and impact – awareness of emerging trends in computing technologies, and the impact of computing on individuals, society and the environment, including ethical, legal and ownership issues.

Assessment overview

This paper consists of five compulsory questions, each one focused on one of the topic areas. The questions consist of multiple-choice, short-, medium- and extended-open response, tabular and diagrammatic items.

Written examination: 1 hour and 30 minutes

50% of the qualification

75 marks


Paper 2: Application of Computational Thinking (*Paper code: 1CP2/02)

Content overview

This paper will assess Topic 6: Problem solving with programming.

The main focus of this paper is:

  • understanding what algorithms are, what they are used for and how they work in relation to creating programs
  • understanding how to decompose and analyse problems
  • ability to read, write, refine and evaluate programs.

Assessment overview

This practical paper requires students to design, write, test and refine programs in order to solve problems.

Students will complete this assessment onscreen using their Integrated Development

Environment (IDE) of choice.

They will be provided with:

  • coding files
  • a hard copy of the question paper
  • the Programming Language Subset (PLS) – as an insert in the question paper and in electronic format.

Students should then answer the questions onscreen using Python 3.

This assessment consists of six compulsory questions.

Onscreen examination: 2 hours

50% of the qualification

75 marks