Computing


What is it? The study of the use of computers, computer-based problems and applications throughout society. This is real nitty-gritty stuff and is not for people who just want new cheat codes for games like Metal Gear Solid.

What is it? The study of the use of computers, computer-based problems and applications throughout society. This is real nitty-gritty stuff and is not for people who just want new cheat codes for games like Metal Gear Solid.

Why do it? Because there is an increasing need for an understanding of technology in our computer-dominated society, and your life and career opportunities would benefit.

What skills do you need? Surprisingly, very little prior knowledge of computing, but you do need a logical and systematic approach, an interest in solving problems, and a natural curiosity. If you are mathematically minded, you would probably find it particularly appealing, but it is a subject that you could start with a clean sheet.

How much practical work is there? A lot of problem-busting stuff. You might find yourself developing a computer program for routeing buses around a city centre. Or making a program to run a complicated office rota.

Ratio of coursework to exams: Between one third and 40 per cent, depending on the exam board.

Is it hard? Yes. Being interested in the subject makes it a lot easier and so does a logical mind.

Is it enjoyable? Yes, because you get to pick projects that interest you. For example, you could design a computer program to run the lighting system at a disco.

Who takes it? More boys than girls but that is changing, probably because ICT is compulsory lower down the national curriculum and students realise how important it is to be computer literate. It attracts more mathematicians and scientists than arts-biased students.

How cool is it? Getting cooler all the time, particularly the hip web- design and virtual reality side. And of course, Keanu Reeves as the leather- clad computer buff in The Matrix brought a new depth of coolness to being an IT specialist.

Added value: Being in huge demand at home, at school or in the office because you know how to end a computer nightmare for someone who is stumped.

What subjects go with it? Anything really. It is a very good additional A-level.

What degrees does it lead to? A huge range of computer-based degree courses, as well as subjects like engineering.

Will it set you up for a brilliant career? If you get a job designing one of the new super-computers, you can virtually write your own pay cheque. The less starry are in high demand too because there is such a shortage of well-qualified computer experts.

What do students say? "I'm finding it very interesting. It's good that we get the chance to try out computer models. I think that it is going to be very useful." (Moya Lucas, 16, doing OCR computing at Our Lady's Catholic High School, Lancaster.)

Which awarding bodies offer it? OCR, Edexcel and AQA.

How widely available is it? It is available in most schools and colleges around the country.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Software Developer

£18000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Graduate Software Developer i...

AER Teachers: Graduate Primary TA - West London - Autumn

£65 - £75 per day + competitive rates: AER Teachers: The school is seeking gra...

AER Teachers: Graduate Secondary TA - West London

£65 - £75 per day + competitive rates: AER Teachers: The school is seeking gra...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Developer - Surrey - £25,000

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Graduate Developer - Croy...

SPONSORED FEATURES

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones