GCSE Options -Subjects - Computer Science

Computer Science

Pearson Edexcel GCSE in Computer Science

Students are able to choose Computer Science as an option subject in Year 10 and 11, following the Edexcel 2013 specification GCSE qualification. From 2015, Edexcel GCSE Computer Science counts as a science option in the EBacc measure in secondary school performance tables. This means that a student who sits any three of the four separate sciences (Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Computer Science) and achieves a C or above in two of them will fulfil the science requirement of the EBacc.

Course Summary

There’s more to Computer Science than simply programming. Computer Science is the study of how computer systems work, how they are constructed and programmed. It consists of a body of knowledge, a set of techniques/methods for solving problems, as well as practical programming skills. What this means is that a course in Computer Science has to cover a lot of theory teaching, as well as plenty of practical problem solving and programming. Computational thinking is a large part of the course and forms the bulk of what is taught.

This qualification specifically aims to:

- develop knowledge and understanding of the fundamental principles and concepts of computer science

- develop and apply computational thinking skills to analyse problems and design solutions across a range of contexts

- gain practical experience of designing, writing, and testing computer programs that accomplish specific goals

- develop the ability to reason, explain and evaluate computing solutions

- develop awareness of current and emerging trends in computing technologies

- develop awareness of the impact of computing on individuals, society and the environment, including ethical, legal and ownership issues

- communicate computer science concepts and explain computational solutions clearly and concisely using appropriate terminology


The Pearson Edexcel GCSE in Computer Science is a linear qualification. It has two assessment components: a written paper with a weighting of 75% and a controlled assessment task with a weighting of 25%.

Computational thinking is a key feature of both, accounting for approximately 65% of the marks across the two components.

- Practical programming skills are assessed in the controlled assessment
- The written paper assesses content from across the specification

Assessment Breakdown

Written Paper Content

Controlled Assessment Content

The topics you will study:

The subject content of the specification is divided into six topics, mirroring the ‘Range and Content’ of the CAS curriculum (Computing at School- http://www.computingatschool.org.uk/data/uploads/ComputingCurric.pdf)

Topic 1: Problem Solving (algorithms)

- Students will develop a set of computational thinking skills that enable them to understand how computer systems work, and design, implement and analyse algorithms for solving problems.

Topic 2: Programming (programs)

- Learning to program is a core component of a computer science course. Students will become competent at reading and writing programs and be able to reason about code. They will be able to apply their skills to solve real problems and produce robust programs.

Topic 3: Data

- Computers are able to store and manipulate large quantities of data. They use binary to represent different types of data. Students will learn how different types of data are represented in a computer. They will be given the opportunity to gain practical experience of using SQL to handle data stored in a structured database.

Topic 4: Computers

- Students must be familiar with the hardware and software components that make up a computer system and recognise that computers come in all shapes and sizes from embedded microprocessors to distributed clouds. Students will be given the opportunity to gain practical experience of interpreting instructions written in assembly language.

Topic 5: Communication and the Internet

- Computer networks and the internet are now ubiquitous. Many computer applications in use today would not be possible without networks. Students will understand the key principles behind the organisation and of computer networks and gain practical experience of creating web pages.

Topic 6: The Bigger Picture

- Students will learn about emerging trends in computing technology and recognise that computing has an impact on nearly every aspect of the world in which they live.

For more information on this qualification please see the Edexcel website: http://qualifications.pearson.com/en/qualifications/edexcel-gcses/computer-science-2013.html

For further subject information please contact Miss Sarah Harris - Head of ICT and Computer Science sarah.harris@thepolesworthschool.com