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Cambridge IGCSE Computer Science is popular with external candidates looking for a computing qualification as it has written exams only, with no practical assessment - no computer is needed. This means that any CAIE exam centre which accepts external candidates should be able to take you for this exam. Other Computer Science exams require either a practical exam or a centre willing to facilitate/sign an endorsement that candidates have completed a practical programming task.

Cambridge IGCSE Computer Science

Cambridge offer 2 IGCSEs in Computer Science. The difference is in the grading, 0984 being 9-1 and 0478 being A*-G, otherwise the syllabus is identical.

CAIE International GCSE Computer Science (0984) page and specification

CAIE International GCSE Computer Science (0478) page and specification

0478 has been around since 2015, while 0984 was new in 2019. However, the specification has changed for exams from 2023. The information below has been updated to take into account

  • Exams from: 2023
  • Available in Autumn and Summer series
  • Specification code: 0984 (9-1) or 0478 (A*- G)


Subject Content

Candidates study the following topics:

Computer systems:

1. Data representation

2. Data transmission

3. Hardware

4. Software

5. The internet and its uses

6. Automated and emerging technologies

Algorithms, Programming and Logic:

7. Algorithm design and problem-solving

8. Programming

9. Databases

10. Boolean logic


Assessment

100% exam based.

  • Paper 1 - Computer Systems - 1hr 45mins - 75 marks - 50%
    • The examination comprises short-answer and structured questions.
    • Covers topics 1-6
    • No calculator allowed
  • Paper 2 - Algorithms, Programming and Logic - 1 hr 45 mins - 75 marks - 50%
    • The examination comprises short-answer and structured questions and a scenario-based question.
    • Covers topics 7-10
    • No calculator allowed


Resources

There are three different textbooks, workbooks and revision book series available for the 2023 specification

Cambridge University Press Computer Science resources

Marshall Cavendish Cambridge Computer Science resources

Hodder Cambridge Computer Science resources

Past papers can be found on the specification pages or sites such as pastpapers.co and papacambridge. Each series of 0478 (besides the March series - which is only sat in India) has 3 sets of papers available. These are because they were sat in different time zones. They are the same syllabus and useful for practice. You can use both 0984 and 0478 papers to practice. Papers prior to March 2023 are old specification, some information on the changes are below.

Seneca - free revision/homework resource covers CIE Computer Science

Cambridge GCSE Computing MOOC - free online course for 2015-2022 syllabus.


Syllabus changes from 2023:

Those sitting the exam from summer 2023 onwards, the syllabus is changing with a lot of additional items added. General overview of changes:

  1. Dropping the pre-release material. The programming exam will have a replacement section of a hand-written coding task.
  2. There are still two written exams (no computer needed), but the weighting for each exam is now 50/50 (previously it was 60/40). Theory exam: 50% Programming exam 50%.
  3. Additional Theory subjects including: AI, Digital currency, Cyber security, Robotics, Cloud Storage plus a few others.
  4. Extension to programming skills in syllabus to include functions, searching algorithms, string manipulation, 2D arrays, File handling, SQL

Most of these changes bring the syllabus more in line with the UK GCSE syllabuses.

Despite this, for Home Educators, this is still the best option as the Edexcel IGCSE has a computer based exam for the second paper which can means it can hard and expensive to find an exam centre.

So, in short, the FIRST sitting for these changes in the syllabus will be summer 2023, in the UK. If your child is due to sit the exam BEFORE that date, the old syllabus remains.


2015-2022 Syllabus - for those sitting exams in summer/autumn 2022

CIE Computer Science IGCSE 0478 had first exams in 2015.  CIE IGCSE Computer Science 0984 had first exams 2019. Apart from grading they are the same specification

It is available to private candidates (syllabus p7), and is assessed by written exam only. There are two papers and "pre-release material" is made available to centres around 6 months before the exams.  You would need to check how this would be made available to you - probably through your exam centre as the exam boards generally prefer you do deal with the centre where possible. The 'prerelease' is a coding task that candidates complete and answer questions about in paper 2.

There are three different text books available for this syllabus and a workbook. There are also programming books available in Python and VB. These are listed under published resources on the specification page, check it is the book for the correct syllabus. Books for the 2022 exams are difficult to find, if required it might be worth asking on the Facebook or io group about second hand copies.

The Cambridge GCSE Computing MOOC has a section on Ethical, Environmental and Legal considerations, which would probably be helpful for the Computer Ethics section. It also has a big section on hexadecimal numbers, in the module on "Representation of data in computer systems", and a whole section on Arrays under the Programming module. The syllabus is very specific about what you need to know.


Edexcel International GCSE Computer Science

The practical paper that requires computer based tasks to be carried out makes this specification very difficult for home educators to access.

Edexcel International GCSE Computer Science page and specification

  • Exams from: June 2019
  • Available in: June
  • Specification code: 4CP0


Subject Content

Candidates study the following topics:

Topic 1: Problem solving

Topic 2: Programming

Topic 3: Data

Topic 4: Computers

Topic 5: Communication and the internet

Topic 6: The bigger picture


Assessment

100% written exam based. However Paper 2 is a practical paper which will be difficult to arrange.

  • Paper 1 - Principles of Computer Science - 2hrs - 80 marks - 50%
    • The paper consists of multiple-choice, short open-response, open-response and extended open-response answer questions
    • Covers all topics
  • Paper 2 - Application of Computational Thinking  - 3-hour practical examination - 80 marks - 50%
    • The paper consists of multiple-choice, short open-response, open-response, extended open response answer and task-based questions.
    • The task-based questions will be carried out using a computer system under supervision. All other questions requiring a written response will be answered in the paper.
    • This paper will primarily assess the practical application of computational thinking, whereby learners will create, use and adapt existing algorithms to solve problems in a particular situation.


GCSE Computer Science

AQA computer science 8525 syllabus (for exams from 2022) is available to private candidates and does not have a practical exam. However, the exam centre is responsible for signing off that the student has completed programming skills, and this means that it is likely to be difficult to arrange with an exam centre.

OCR Computer Science J272 (for exams from 2022) is available to home educated students now. There is no practical exam or NEA (coursework), but the exam centre needs to sign off that practical programming has been completed.

Because of the centre endorsements GCSE Computer Science is an option that will be difficult for home educators to arrange so we have not included resources and more information here. If your child is going to sit GCSE please be sure to confirm arrangements with the centre for them to sign off on the programming element. Edexcel GCSE and Eduqas GCSE still have a computer based paper 2.


Computer Science Resources

OCR GCSE Computing MOOC - free online course - check specification

Craig'n'Dave Youtube - Videos are mainly GCSE and A level but might be useful to cross reference.

Oak Academy

Isaac Computer Science

TeachallaboutIT


Distance Learning

Many home-educated students study Computer Science successfully using just the textbook and free online resources, but some find a distance learning course suits their family better, or want to use a tutor occasionally for marking essays or past papers. Course providers can be found on the Distance Learning Providers page.

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