Computer Scientists are problem solvers.
Today, leading computer scientists are working on solutions to problems such as how to diagnose cancer more effectively, how to produce self-driving cars, how to perform real-time foreign language translation and how to develop artificially intelligent systems. They also solve everyday problems, such as how to run businesses more effectively and developing entertaining new games for users. A range of interesting careers await talented Computer Scientists, such as Software Development, Games Programming, Network and Security Management and Management Consultancy.
AQA GCSE Computer Science enables students to build upon existing basic programming skills and learn how to solve problems by writing programs in the C# language using Visual Studio, one of Microsoft's main programming languages, similar to C, C++ and Java.
Students will have the opportunity to write programs to perform many different tasks and will spend around two thirds of lesson time completing practical work. Some examples of the programs include a version of the battleships game and a message encryption and decryption system. By the end of the course, students will be able to write complex text based programs and some will have written programs that run in a graphical windows environment. There is considerable flexibility on pace and students often develop practical skills beyond those required at GCSE. Other topics include; how computer hardware is built from logic circuits, how computer networks work, cyber security and standard algorithms that are widely used by programmers.
AQA A Level Computer Science allows students the opportunity to develop their programming skills using C# so that they can write programs to solve complex problems, gaining further experience of procedural oriented programming, but developing programs that have a graphical user interface instead of a command line one. They will learn about other aspects of programming such as communicating with database servers using SQL. Students then move on to object-oriented programming in C# and finally they get a taste of the functional programming paradigm using Haskell and assembly language programming using the ARM instruction set.
In Year 13 students work on a substantial project of their choice, developing a program to solve a problem or investigating an aspect of computer science. Most students produce their projects using C# but it is also possible to use other languages such as ASP or PHP for web page programming or to develop applications for mobile devices.
Students also study the fundamentals of computing devices, the logic gate circuits which enable computing devices to perform operations, the structure and role of the processor, the low-level language of the machine, and how it is used to program the hardware directly. Topics such as networking and the storage and processing of the vast amounts of data that are now generated all of the time (Big Data) are also covered.
Students do not need to have studied GCSE Computer Science to opt for A Level but students who have no prior experience of programming will need to do some additional work in this area in Year 11.
Mr Meakin graduated from Warwick University with a degree in Computer Science and was awarded the British Computer Society award for the best overall graduating student in the subject in 1995.
He has taught Computer Science at BGS since 1996.
In addition to over twenty years of experience of teaching the subject to A Level, he has extensive Senior Examiner experience at this level and has been responsible for reviewing and approving a range of A Level and GCSE textbooks, together with publishing resources that have been used worldwide.
Through his participation in Computing at Schools, he was at the forefront of the development of the Computer Science curriculum across the UK in recent years.