Frequently Asked Questions
What skills do you need to become a computer scientist?
As you can see, being a computer scientist involves having a mix of skills. It helps if you like puzzles and figuring things out – problem solving in other words. Perseverance is important as very often the programs that you write or the things that you design may not work out exactly as planned the first or second time and you have to keep trying to get them right. Two other things that you mightn’t usually associate with computer science are curiosity and
creativity. Things in the world of computing are changing all the time and it’s good to be curious about what new tools and apps are available so you can use them to build better systems. Creativity is important as each time you build something it will be slightly (or sometimes vastly) different than what you have built before. It’s like an artist or musician – a painting or a piece of music can be of a particular type or genre but it is usually is different from previous paintings or pieces of music.
Should I do Leaving Certificate Computer Science?
There are three reasons why you might consider studying computer science for the leaving cert.
1. It is a new subject and the approach is more modern than some other subjects. There is a big emphasis on the practice side of things – so you won’t spend all your time in the classroom. There are many active learning components where you learn by doing – this is usually more effective and enjoyable.
2. The course is quite open and you can choose to bring in elements of other subjects in which you are interested (e.g. science, business, music, a language or the environment) when doing some of the project work. You will be working in a team and you’ll be able to build bigger and better projects than you could on your own.
3. You’ll get a chance to learn what computers science is all about. You might like it and decide that you’d like to continue to learn about it after the leaving cert. You might realise that it’s not for you, but you will have a detailed knowledge of computing that will be helpful for you in almost any area that you want to pursue after the leaving
cert. Also, in the leaving cert computer science course, you will learn about technical and non-technical aspects of computing, including the role of computers in society and ethics – this is useful knowledge for anyone in the 21st century.
I am a Leaving Cert Computer Science student. Are there any books for the subject yet?
Yes there is one book so far.
I am thinking of studying Computer Science after I finish/leave school. Where can I find out about Computer Science courses?
Where can I find out about different Computer Science careers?
I am picking my subjects for 5th year. Can you take up Computer Science if you have not studied it before?
Yes you can take up the subject if you have not studied it before.
What is the assessment for the Leaving Certificate Computer Science course?
There are two assessment components at each level, an end-of-course examination (70%) and coursework assessment (30%). The end of course examination will include a written and coding exam.
When does the exam take place?
End of course examination takes place on the last Wednesday of May in 6th year.
When does the coursework take place?
January to March in 6th year
I am not interested in studying computer science after school (or pursuing a career in CS). Is this subject still relevant to me?
Yes, the course is still relevant. The Leaving Certificate Computer Science course introduces students to problem-solving using programming and computational knowledge. The course develops an understanding of fundamental concepts of computer science and technology’s role in society. Through applied exercises, students will develop practical skills while working in teams to create functioning computer applications. These skills are transferable to other careers and other third level courses.
What programming languages will I learn?
Are there any Computer Science opportunities for girls?
Yes there are several opportunities such as:
CodePlus - Coding for girls -https://codeplus.scss.tcd.ie
Teen-Turn - Programmes - https://teen-turn.com
I am a Leaving Cert Computer Science student. Where can I purchase a Micro:bit?
You can purchase at any supplier such as https://www.sgeducation.ie/product/microbit-v2-loose-single
Is computer science hard?
Computer Science is a broad field and covers many different areas. It does require a bit of
effort to learn, but then so do most subjects. It helps if you like working things out. Part of the
reason that it has a reputation of being hard is that it is more unknown than other subjects.
Most people have a general idea of what history, geography or French is before they start, but
they don’t know what computer science is. Some aspects of computer science are more
difficult than others, but they are all learnable. The key is to remember that computer
systems are made up of many different components and people will like certain parts and
them easier and more enjoyable than others.
What you learn in LCCS
What are the careers like for computer scientists?
What is the exam in LCCS like?
Transition Year Opportunities
What does a Computer Scientist actually do?
Many people have a mental image of a computer scientist as someone who spends all day sitting at a computer, looking at the screen, working alone, not talking to anyone and rarely taking breaks. While there may be some computer scientists that sometimes spend all day working on a program, most of the time computer scientists work on other tasks. A lot of the time, computer scientists or more generally, people who work in computing, work on solving problems. They try to understand what the problem is and break it down into smaller and smaller problems until they get to the point where they can eventually solve the small problems one by one. They then combine all their solutions together to solve the bigger problem.
In order to do this they usually work in teams where people have different skillsets and can bounce ideas off one another. Different team members might work on different tasks. For example, if a team is working on developing a website for an organisation, the roles include: working with the users to find out what they want they website to do designing how the website will look sending and receiving information from the website to other systems connecting the website to the internet making sure the right security systems are in place making sure all the different components link up together testing the website and the components to make sure it does what it’s meant to do, that it’s secure, looks good and is easy to use.
In some big companies, each of these roles will be done be several people but in smaller companies, the same person might cover several different roles. Even within these roles, there is a lot of variety. What a person does at the start of a project will be different to what they do at the end of a project. So you can see that there are loads of different roles and jobs that computer scientists actually do – they do not all do the same job and there can be a lot of variety in what they do and this keeps things interesting.
Can I do Leaving Certificate Computer Science outside school?
The structure of the specification for LCCS is underpinned by students developing a number of skills, including working with others and communication. The specification states:
“Leaving Certificate Computer Science is underpinned by collaboration and working with others. In their project work, students gain appreciation of the dynamics of groups and the social skills needed to engage in collaborative work. Computer Science contributes to an appreciation that working collectively can help motivation, release energy and capitalise on all the talents in a group. One of the crucial factors in working with others is to identify, evaluate and achieve collective goals. Students learn to negotiate and resolve conflicts as they discuss their different strategies and achieve consensus.”
The four Applied Learning Tasks which form part of the specification are completed collaboratively by students working in teams. Teachers will assess and provide feedback on student learning as part of ongoing teaching and learning in the classroom. Both the teacher and the student are required to verify completion of the Tasks.
There are two components to the assessment of LCCS, an end of course computer based examination (70% of overall marks) and a coursework component (30% of overall marks). Both components are externally assessed by the State Examinations Commission (SEC). The coursework is based on a task in which students are required to generate a computational artefact in response to a brief set out by the SEC.
The SEC sets out the requirements for the authentication of subject coursework. The authentication process is intended to ensure that each piece of coursework presented for assessment is the candidate’s own individual work, completed under the supervision of the class teacher, in full compliance with coursework regulations and requirements. For reasons of inter-candidate equity and examinations integrity, there needs to be an assurance to the system that candidates are presenting their own unaided work and that each candidate is completing their work under the same conditions as all other candidates.
The conditions for the completion, acceptance and authentication of coursework are set out in the SEC circulars S68/08 and S69/04. The authentication process is an ongoing process of engagement and oversight over a period of time - rather than a single ‘point in time’ engagement. This requirement is reflected in both the relevant circulars and in the guidance issued with individual coursework briefs and tasks.
The coursework project brief for LCCS published by the SEC states:
“Apart from your initial investigation and research, you must carry out the project in school under the supervision of your teacher. This allows your teacher to authenticate your work to the SEC. Because you are carrying out the work under teacher supervision, the teacher is able to guarantee to us that that it is your own work, and that nobody gave you any inappropriate help. If you include work that was not supervised by your teacher, then they cannot authenticate it, even if they believe that you really did it yourself. We cannot accept work for assessment if your teacher cannot authenticate it, so you will forfeit marks for the project work. Note also that we cannot give partial marks for ‘partially authenticated’ work. That is, unless all of your work can be authenticated by your teacher, we cannot accept any of it for marking.”
The above requirements would need to be satisfied by students wishing to take LCCS and to be marked on all assessment components. Students who are not in a position to carry out their coursework in a school under the direct supervision of a teacher of the subject cannot submit coursework for assessment. Any such student entering for the examination would of necessity forfeit the marks for the coursework component. It is for these reasons that the Department recommends that only students attending LCCS classes in schools, and completing the coursework components under the supervision of their teacher, should enter for examination in LCCS.
Do you have to be good at maths to be a computer scientist?
Well, it depends on what area of computer science you want to work in. If you are interested in cryptography, then it helps if you like maths, but if you are interested in other areas of computer science, then it’s helpful but not absolutely essential that you are really good at maths.