Cambridge IGCSE Computer Science learners study the principles and practices of computing and gain confidence in computational thinking and programming. They learn to program by writing computer code and they develop their understanding of the main principles of problem-solving using computers.

The syllabus teaches learners to apply their understanding to develop computer-based solutions to problems using algorithms and a high-level programming language. They also develop a range of technical skills, as well as the ability to test effectively and to evaluate computing solutions.

The programming covered on this course will be using the Python language and covers techniques that have already been taught at Key Stage 3 and will be recapped during IGCSE studies.

This qualification helps learners appreciate current and emerging computing technologies and the benefits of their use. They learn to recognise the ethical issues and potential risks when using computers.

Understanding the principles of Computer Science provides learners with the underpinning knowledge required for many other subjects in science and engineering, and the skills learnt can also be used in everyday life.


The aims are to help learners to develop:

  • Computational thinking, that is thinking about what can be computed and how, and includes consideration of the data required.
  • Understanding of the main principles of solving problems by using computers.
  • Understanding that every computer system is made up of sub-systems, which in turn consist of further sub-systems.
  • Understanding of the component parts of computer systems and how they interrelate, including software, data, hardware, communications and people.
  • Skills necessary to apply understanding to solve computer-based problems using a high-level programming language.

Syllabus content

  1. Theory of Computer Science
    • Data representation
    • Communication and internet technologies
    • Hardware and software
    • Security and ethics
  2. Problem-solving and Programming
    • Algorithm design and problem-solving
    • Programming
    • Databases

Double award

Most IGCSE subjects studied include two lessons each week and result in a single qualification. This option gives students the opportunity to gain both IGCSE Computer Science and IGCSE Information and Communication Technology (ICT) from three lessons a week.

As Computer Science focuses on how computers work and ICT looks at how we use computers, a strong understanding of each subject helps improve the student’s understanding of the other.

Split of content areas between the two subjects

Most of the content areas in the syllabuses for the two subjects are common between the two subjects, but one subject merely introduces it while the other subject covers it in depth. This helps students to better understand content that might only be superficially covered in the single subjects.

These broad content areas are introduced in one subject and covered in depth in the other:

  • Hardware, software and computer systems (in depth in Computer Science, introduced in ICT)
  • The internet, networking and ethics (in depth in ICT, introduced in Computer Science)

The two subjects diverge on the following focused content areas:

  • Problem-solving and Programming (Computer Science only)
  • Data representation (binary, encoding and cryptography) (Computer Science only)
  • Word processing, spreadsheets, presentations and databases (ICT only)
  • Image manipulation and website authoring (ICT only)
  • The systems lifecycle (analysis, design, creation and documentation) (ICT only)

In Year 10, content will be clearly identified as to which subject (or subjects) it belongs but the three lessons will not be split for the specific subjects. In Year 11, our students study the practical sides of these subjects with one lesson being specifically for Computer Science and two lessons for ICT. This will allow students the opportunity to continue with both programmes of study or to drop either Computer Science or ICT in Year 11 to focus on the other, or to use the time to catch up with other IGCSE subjects.

Additional equipment

All students will require:

  • HB pencil
  • Eraser


Paper title Duration and marks What’s in the paper? Percentage of final grade
Paper 1:
1 hour 45 minutes
(75 Marks)
Short-answer and structured questions. Questions will be based on content relating to the Theory of Computer Science. 60%
Paper 2:
Problem-solving and Programming
1 hour 45 minutes
(50 Marks)
Short-answer and structured questions.
Questions will be based on content relating to Problem-solving and Programming.
20 marks are from questions set on the pre-release material where the student will have developed a computer program during Year 11.

Find out more

You can find out more by visiting the qualification page on the Cambridge Assessment website.