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An introduction to computer systems, networking and security in GCSE computer science - face to face

CP238 Face to face course

Learn about the different components of computer hardware, including devices not instantly recognisable as computers.

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Computer networks Computer systems Safety & Security Key stage 3 Key stage 4 CS Accelerator
Face to face course 1 day

  • Congleton 7 December 09:00—7 December 2023
  • York 12 December 09:30—12 December 2023
  • Ipswich 18 December 09:30—18 December 2023
  • York 23 January 09:30—23 January 2024
  • Uxbridge 25 January 09:00—25 January 2024
  • Newark 31 January 09:15—31 January 2024
  • 12 February 09:30—12 February 2024
  • Birmingham 13 February 09:30—13 February 2024
  • Stotfold 7 March 09:00—7 March 2024
  • London 7 March 09:30—7 March 2024
  • Nottingham 15 March 09:00—15 March 2024
  • Luton 22 March 09:00—22 March 2024
  • Manchester 28 June 09:30—28 June 2024
  • St Albans 28 June 09:30—28 June 2024

Take your first steps towards teaching GCSE computer science and establish a foundational knowledge base of concepts, terminology and classroom practice. Find out how the components of computer systems interlink and how these can then be connected together to form a network.

Learn about the different components of computer hardware, including devices not instantly recognisable as computers. The key components for input, processing, storage and output will be covered, and you’ll learn about the binary data that flows around and between computers.

Whether in your home or school, computing devices are increasingly networked. You’ll learn to recognise the technologies used to connect machines and to share data, and begin to find out how computers can communicate with each other seamlessly. You’ll also deepen your knowledge of some of the security risks that are commonly heard about in the daily news, which your students need to be aware of to be safe and responsible web citizens.

Recommended next steps:

This introductory course helps novice computer science teachers access the Computer Science Accelerator Programme. It is strongly recommended that its counterpart course An introduction to algorithms, programming and data in GCSE computer science is also attended before progressing further into the programme.

Who is it for?

This course is for prospective teachers of Key Stage 3 computing and GCSE computer science, who may be new to the subject. 

No prior experience or knowledge of computer science is expected before attending this course. It is advised that you become familiar with the National Curriculum in Computing before participating in this course, as well as the GCSE specification you are likely to teach.

Topics covered

  • 01 | Computer systems and hardware - Here you’ll learn about the breadth of hardware devices many of which will be familiar, such as keyboards, monitors and printers. You’ll understand how computers store, process and transmit data and the essential roles of the central processing unit. Terms like ‘8 bit’, ‘500 gigabyte drive’ or ‘megabit broadband’ are in common usage – this session explains these terms and more.
  • 02 | Memory - Computers need to memorise data, during this session you'll explore how computer systems use different types of memory including cache memory, RAM and ROM.  
  • 03 | Computer networks - In the modern era almost all computers are part of a network. You'll learn the essentials of how, and why, computers are networked locally, or globally through the internet. You'll also find out about everyday internet services such as email and the worldwide web. 
  • 04 | Cyber-security - Networks bring risks as well as benefits. This session will demystify some internet dangers such as phishing, viruses and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks.

How long is this course?

This is a one-day course which consists of approx. six hours of teaching time.

How will you learn?

You’ll engage with active learning in groups including direct instruction, hands-on activities and challenge-based learning. Examination practice with guidance will be linked to the specific requirements of the main awarding bodies. The course will model teaching approaches that can be taken back to the classroom.


You will:

  • Learn how data is inputted into a computer, how it is processed, stored and output in a useful form
  • Recognise the terminology used to describe data storage and transmission, ironing out common misconceptions
  • Develop a basic understanding of local and global computer networks
  • Become knowledgeable and confident in using common cybersecurity terms
  • Learn engaging ways to bring these topics to the classroom

This course is part of the Subject knowledge certificate

Subject knowledge certificate

Our professional development programme, Computer Science Accelerator, is designed to help you develop or refresh your subject knowledge and leads to a nationally recognised certificate.

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This course is from the National Centre for Computing Education and is delivered by STEM Learning.

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