The Student Room Group

Computer science A-level

I’m pretty sure I want to do computer science at A-level. However I’m not 100% sure on what to pair with it. I’m thinking maths and games development but I’m not sure games development goes well with it. Any suggestions on what I should pick?
Original post by Jaydenc99
I’m pretty sure I want to do computer science at A-level. However I’m not 100% sure on what to pair with it. I’m thinking maths and games development but I’m not sure games development goes well with it. Any suggestions on what I should pick?

Hi, I studied Maths and Computer Science at A-level and my third subject was actually PE - this is definitely not the usual combination seen with Computer Science (and I was encouraged to swap PE) but these were the 3 subjects I enjoyed the most and at the time as I wasn't sure what to do after A-levels. But, in my Computer Science degree, I have found that some of the content I actually studied in PE has come up in the psychology side of HCI and the processing of movements, models and memory mappings.

The typical combination however is usually Maths, Computer Science and Physics. But, when we were picking our A-levels we were told to pick the subjects that interested us the most and that we would be willing and eager to study for 2 years in order to do well in the final exams to progress onto the next stage be that education or a job. So, if games development is a subject you find interesting or could see yourself doing after A-levels then pick it! Also, it does go very well with computer science so please don't worry!

That being said, if you are wanting to go to university have a look now at the university and courses that you like and see what their requirements are and also to get an idea what courses you can do with those 3 subjects that you may not have heard of.

There is no right and wrong answer for the subjects you pick at A-level - pick the subjects that are right for you and what you want to do after and that you actually want to study!

A further recommendation, if you haven't done and have the opportunity to do so, is to attend a taster day or open day or if this isn't possible ask for taught content examples from the place you will be studying your A-levels. This will give you a better feel for the subjects and the content and whether you could see yourself studying that subject.

Hope this helps, Ella
Reply 2
Original post by Lancaster Student Ambassador
Hi, I studied Maths and Computer Science at A-level and my third subject was actually PE - this is definitely not the usual combination seen with Computer Science (and I was encouraged to swap PE) but these were the 3 subjects I enjoyed the most and at the time as I wasn't sure what to do after A-levels. But, in my Computer Science degree, I have found that some of the content I actually studied in PE has come up in the psychology side of HCI and the processing of movements, models and memory mappings.
The typical combination however is usually Maths, Computer Science and Physics. But, when we were picking our A-levels we were told to pick the subjects that interested us the most and that we would be willing and eager to study for 2 years in order to do well in the final exams to progress onto the next stage be that education or a job. So, if games development is a subject you find interesting or could see yourself doing after A-levels then pick it! Also, it does go very well with computer science so please don't worry!
That being said, if you are wanting to go to university have a look now at the university and courses that you like and see what their requirements are and also to get an idea what courses you can do with those 3 subjects that you may not have heard of.
There is no right and wrong answer for the subjects you pick at A-level - pick the subjects that are right for you and what you want to do after and that you actually want to study!
A further recommendation, if you haven't done and have the opportunity to do so, is to attend a taster day or open day or if this isn't possible ask for taught content examples from the place you will be studying your A-levels. This will give you a better feel for the subjects and the content and whether you could see yourself studying that subject.
Hope this helps, Ella


I hadn’t thought of it that way and that is very helpful. I will be attending a taster day soon to hopefully aid my decision. Thanks for the advice.
Reply 3
Original post by Lancaster Student Ambassador
Hi, I studied Maths and Computer Science at A-level and my third subject was actually PE - this is definitely not the usual combination seen with Computer Science (and I was encouraged to swap PE) but these were the 3 subjects I enjoyed the most and at the time as I wasn't sure what to do after A-levels. But, in my Computer Science degree, I have found that some of the content I actually studied in PE has come up in the psychology side of HCI and the processing of movements, models and memory mappings.
The typical combination however is usually Maths, Computer Science and Physics. But, when we were picking our A-levels we were told to pick the subjects that interested us the most and that we would be willing and eager to study for 2 years in order to do well in the final exams to progress onto the next stage be that education or a job. So, if games development is a subject you find interesting or could see yourself doing after A-levels then pick it! Also, it does go very well with computer science so please don't worry!
That being said, if you are wanting to go to university have a look now at the university and courses that you like and see what their requirements are and also to get an idea what courses you can do with those 3 subjects that you may not have heard of.
There is no right and wrong answer for the subjects you pick at A-level - pick the subjects that are right for you and what you want to do after and that you actually want to study!
A further recommendation, if you haven't done and have the opportunity to do so, is to attend a taster day or open day or if this isn't possible ask for taught content examples from the place you will be studying your A-levels. This will give you a better feel for the subjects and the content and whether you could see yourself studying that subject.
Hope this helps, Ella


Also, would you say that computer science A-level is difficult?
Reply 4
There's probably a few questions you should think about when choosing your A-Levels.

Firstly, what do you want to do post-18? Uni? Which degree course? What are the recommendations & requirements? One piece of advice I have is to avoid extrapolating your academic choices and interpolate them instead. Which is to say, rather than choosing A-levels and then 2 years from now searching for courses that are willing to accept your A-levels, consider your aspirations first and then consider what subjects will be most advantageous in getting you there. If you are unsure, keep your options open, but having a rough idea will be very useful in the long-term. For example, going by your post, let's say you want to study computer science at degree level. Well then, Maths and Further Maths would be two instant recommendations, and then possible a science or economics/business depending on what route you want to go down.

Additionally, consider what you are good at, what you enjoy, and what you are likely to get good grades in. If game development is your thing, then go for it. But personally, I would only really recommend doing a subject in a niche A-level if you are genuinely considering pursuing it as a career or you think it will provide some utility to you at a later point. If you are less certain as to whether or not you want to pursue game development my personal advice would be to stick to the broader subjects (since CS still gives you enough grounding in that area. Maybe your coursework can be a game?) which retain your other options. Specialising in game development later in life is doable and in fact, most people that go into that career don't start off with formal qualifications in the subject, so not having an A-level in the subject will not detriment you if you decide in the future that it is in fact what you want to do as a career. Just to clarify, this is not me saying you shouldn't take game development at A-level, but I'm just advising that you weigh up the value of an academic qualification in the subject against your personal ambitions before making your decision.

The prior advice is good though. Attend some open days, try and figure out what you want to achieve, and most importantly try and figure out which A-levels are going to get you there.
Original post by Jaydenc99
I’m pretty sure I want to do computer science at A-level. However I’m not 100% sure on what to pair with it. I’m thinking maths and games development but I’m not sure games development goes well with it. Any suggestions on what I should pick?

Hey, Coventry University Student Ambassador here! 👋

It's great to hear you want to get into computer science! If that's something you want to do at university, then I suggest looking at the entry requirements for universities that interest you and tailoring your subjects to meet those requirements.

However, sometimes universities are very restrictive with what they want, and your A-levels end up being something like Maths, Further Maths, and Physics to get into a technical course like computer science.

At Coventry University, our Computer Science BSc requirements are:

BSc (Hons): BBB to include one from Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Further Mathematics, Computer Science, Computing, or Design Technology. Excludes General Studies.

MSci (Hons): ABB to include one from Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Further Mathematics, Computer Science, Computing, or Design Technology. Excludes General Studies.


You only require one of these subjects, therefore, you can choose others that not only can keep your options open but also something that interests you, like games development. Maths and games development don't have to mix well with each other, they are both great subjects and open the path to computer science. We also have an awesome Games Technology MSci/BSc course with the same entry requirements.

I hope this gives some insight. Don't forget to attend open days to speak to lecturers, supporting staff, and ambassadors like ourselves to get a better understanding of life on campus and your curriculum. Best of luck!

Dorna | Coventry University Student Ambassador
Original post by Jaydenc99
Also, would you say that computer science A-level is difficult?

Hi,

Having studied Computer Science at GCSE and it being 1 of my best subjects, I feel I had an advantage when it came to A-level. As well as this the school I sat my GCSEs at had a sixth form so the teachers I had were consistent throughout and their teaching style and methods worked for me - this was a great help to me and a factor into how easy it was.

A-levels are known to be difficult and a big jump from GCSEs so please don't worry but if you are willing to work hard, put the effort in and study then it really isn't too difficult. I had the OCR exam board so had a theory exam, programming exam and NEA coursework to complete. There is a lot of content in terms of theory but having the NEA and the programming exam you get a lot of opportunities to put it into practice. And like I said, if you studied at GCSE you will have some prior knowledge but if not please don't worry as I'm sure your teachers and the provider of your A-levels will support you!

How difficult you will find it will all depend on your prior knowledge, how easy it is for you to pick up and learn the content and how much self study you will do so it really is subjective. However, there are so many great resources online to support and consolidate your learning.

If you haven't studied at GCSE then looking over some of the course in the holidays be that a revision guide or online material could give you some initial understanding. If you have studied at GCSE but still want to keep it fresh in your mind or do some work in your free time then practicing the coding or again looking over the content of the A-level would certainly not do you any harm, especially if you're worried that the course may be difficult.

I know there is no straight answer but I hope this helps, if there's anything else you need then please just ask!

Ella - Lancaster University Student Ambassador
Reply 7
Original post by Lancaster Student Ambassador
Hi,
Having studied Computer Science at GCSE and it being 1 of my best subjects, I feel I had an advantage when it came to A-level. As well as this the school I sat my GCSEs at had a sixth form so the teachers I had were consistent throughout and their teaching style and methods worked for me - this was a great help to me and a factor into how easy it was.
A-levels are known to be difficult and a big jump from GCSEs so please don't worry but if you are willing to work hard, put the effort in and study then it really isn't too difficult. I had the OCR exam board so had a theory exam, programming exam and NEA coursework to complete. There is a lot of content in terms of theory but having the NEA and the programming exam you get a lot of opportunities to put it into practice. And like I said, if you studied at GCSE you will have some prior knowledge but if not please don't worry as I'm sure your teachers and the provider of your A-levels will support you!
How difficult you will find it will all depend on your prior knowledge, how easy it is for you to pick up and learn the content and how much self study you will do so it really is subjective. However, there are so many great resources online to support and consolidate your learning.
If you haven't studied at GCSE then looking over some of the course in the holidays be that a revision guide or online material could give you some initial understanding. If you have studied at GCSE but still want to keep it fresh in your mind or do some work in your free time then practicing the coding or again looking over the content of the A-level would certainly not do you any harm, especially if you're worried that the course may be difficult.
I know there is no straight answer but I hope this helps, if there's anything else you need then please just ask!
Ella - Lancaster University Student Ambassador


Would you say that picking a-level maths would help with it?
Original post by Jaydenc99
Would you say that picking a-level maths would help with it?


For A-level computer science, A-level maths would help but I wouldn't say that it is necessary to do well and get a good grade. It would support possibly with algorithms and Big O notation and things like that but for me any maths needed was taught and not expected that you know it so having the maths theory knowledge does help with picking it up.

When it comes to degree level however, most Computer Science degrees and related degrees require an A-level in Maths and will use things taught. Now, here at Lancaster our Computer Science degrees are taught from the perspective that Computer science is a new subject to all students so any maths needed is also taught but this may not be the case for other universities and they may need an a-level in maths and require you to fall back on knowledge from it.

This means you should consider what you want to to do after A-levels. If a computer science or related degree is what you are interested in then you should bear all this in mind.

Hope that makes sense and helps, Ella
Reply 9
Original post by Jaydenc99
Also, would you say that computer science A-level is difficult?

I wouldn't say difficult but very content heavy. There's a lot to cover. It has the most time consuming NEA, and the papers are 2 hours and 30 minutes long if you do AQA.

I would say that unless you want to do CS/Engineering of some sort, don't take it up unless you have a SERIOUS interest for the subject. Even if you want to do CS or Engineering, you don't have to do it. I've applied for CS at uni and none of my offers require A* in CS specifically.
Reply 10
Original post by Lancaster Student Ambassador
For A-level computer science, A-level maths would help but I wouldn't say that it is necessary to do well and get a good grade. It would support possibly with algorithms and Big O notation and things like that but for me any maths needed was taught and not expected that you know it so having the maths theory knowledge does help with picking it up.
When it comes to degree level however, most Computer Science degrees and related degrees require an A-level in Maths and will use things taught. Now, here at Lancaster our Computer Science degrees are taught from the perspective that Computer science is a new subject to all students so any maths needed is also taught but this may not be the case for other universities and they may need an a-level in maths and require you to fall back on knowledge from it.
This means you should consider what you want to to do after A-levels. If a computer science or related degree is what you are interested in then you should bear all this in mind.
Hope that makes sense and helps, Ella

Does Lancaster usually have Computer Science places in Clearing?
Original post by vnayak
Does Lancaster usually have Computer Science places in Clearing?


I'm not 100% sure but you could email or call the department or admissions team and they'll be able to help you with this
Original post by vnayak
Does Lancaster usually have Computer Science places in Clearing?

Hi, if you follow the below link you'll be able to enter your details. If you fill the form in you'll get notified should places come available.

Clearing 2024 - Lancaster University

Ella - Lancaster University Student Ambassador
Reply 13
Original post by Lancaster Student Ambassador
For A-level computer science, A-level maths would help but I wouldn't say that it is necessary to do well and get a good grade. It would support possibly with algorithms and Big O notation and things like that but for me any maths needed was taught and not expected that you know it so having the maths theory knowledge does help with picking it up.
When it comes to degree level however, most Computer Science degrees and related degrees require an A-level in Maths and will use things taught. Now, here at Lancaster our Computer Science degrees are taught from the perspective that Computer science is a new subject to all students so any maths needed is also taught but this may not be the case for other universities and they may need an a-level in maths and require you to fall back on knowledge from it.
This means you should consider what you want to to do after A-levels. If a computer science or related degree is what you are interested in then you should bear all this in mind.
Hope that makes sense and helps, Ella


That helps a lot thanks

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