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Computer Science or Religious Studies

(30 Posts)
FiddleOnTheRoof Tue 25-Feb-20 00:04:03

Anyone able to advise on which might be viewed as a better gcse to take.

Religious studies or computer science.

DC torn between the two subjects and I thought I’d just throw it out there to all you experienced Mnetters. Is one considered easier?

In a growing world of the internet, wouldn’t it be better to take CS?

OP’s posts: |
ErrolTheDragon Tue 25-Feb-20 00:14:00

What are your DCs other options and does he or she have any sort of ideas about A levels and beyond yet?

As to 'easier', that will depend on your DCs aptitudes.

FiddleOnTheRoof Tue 25-Feb-20 01:10:58

Hi @ErrolTheDragon Other options include all the compulsory subjects e.g science, maths language etc and options drama and music with possibly CS or RE. They get to pick 3.

Have you had any experience with CS or RE you could share? DC fairly average ability. Has little idea what they want to do career wise. Likely to include maths, as very good at it but outside that as a possible A level, trying to keep options fairly open so they can grown into a career naturally as it becomes clear with growning interests if that makes any sense.

OP’s posts: |
FiddleOnTheRoof Tue 25-Feb-20 01:16:00

I should say DC likes debating topics and does raise some interesting points of view in discussions which is why RE came up as an option. That said, I believe CS is very maths based so might fit better with their mathematical attributes.

OP’s posts: |
RedskyAtnight Tue 25-Feb-20 07:51:43

DS is taking both(he didn't pick RE; it was compulsory).

My observations
- Computer Science is not an easy option! It's not all about messing about on computers (which most of his class seem to think). There is a lot of theory and you need to have a logical mind.

- The RE option DS is taking is 50% study of 2 major religions and 50% looking at more "big life questions". DS is finding the 2nd bit interesting as (to quote him) "it's just spouting opinionated shit" but there is quite a lot of content to learn.

- There is a lot of writing in RE. The exam is pretty much non-stop write for 1h45m, which does not suit DS who writes very slowly and struggles to organise his thoughts. So, if your child is similar I would avoid like the plague. on the other hand if they like writing, they will probably enjoy this (DD is also taking RE and likes the discussion aspect).

- Neither will rule in or rule out future career options. If he does want a career in IT, universities will look at maths (many schools don't offer CS)

- CS does not teach computer skills per se. You want ICT for that.

3littlemonsters3 Tue 25-Feb-20 08:48:21

Both are very respectable GCSEs and neither will close any doors. The easiest one will be wherever your DCs strengths lie. I wouldn’t say either were particularly easy. Both are subjects that make you think, reason, use deduction and apply logic (although in slightly different ways) but they are highly valued skills.

However, that said, theoretically RE is the “easier” option. It’s a study of 2 major world religious - usually Christianity and Islam? Or Judaism? (Most schools do Islam or Judaism. Your school will be able to tell you which one they are doing). And the philosophical and ethical issues in today’s society through the view points of the 2 religions.
It’s very opinion based, but you have to use your knowledge and reasoning to explain the opinion - arguments for and arguments against, and LOTS of writing. It’s very heavily essay based and there are LOTS of facts to learn.
In terms of career progression it would work well with the other chosen options but also will fit with the sciences and keep all options open. It’s very versatile and a lot of Science graduates have studied RE at GCSE and A-level as well as arts students.

Computer science is theoretically the “harder” one. But can also be considered the “easier” one in terms of exams. Its not computing in the sense excel, databases and how to use the computers. It’s computer programming. Requires a logical mind, maths skills, ability to pick up programming skills and a thorough understanding of hardware and software. It’s a subject for those would would enjoy it rather than “oh, I’ll do that because I have to pick something”. Lots to learn but the exam is easier than the RE exam in terms of less to write and more thinking rather than remembering lots of facts (although there is still a lot to learn).
It would go well with the other chosen options and could lead to careers such as music technology. It could also be a bordering option keeping a pathway to the sciences for A-level.

TeenPlusTwenties Tue 25-Feb-20 10:21:21

I think they are both solid GCSEs and he should go for the one he thinks he will enjoy most / be better at.

DD2 is enjoying her RE course and although there is a lot to learn a lot of it fits with general knowledge anyway. e.g. You hear in the news about Mecca and then learn about it as a Pillar of Islam. Or today is Shrove Tuesday, what's that all about, etc.

FiddleOnTheRoof Tue 25-Feb-20 10:37:50

Are there any online websites that could help with the programming element of CS. I keep hearing that’s the hardest part, but if DC could beat this, then all should be well... I think?

Regarding RE: Their not great with the writing, just average. Has a lot of good ideas and ways of looking at things that spark interest in others. Just wish ability to get it down on paper were better.

OP’s posts: |
LoopyLu2019 Tue 25-Feb-20 10:45:18

Computer science. RS was a pointless gcse, my school even only offered the "short course" in old terms... learning to code is very useful as is all the theory along with it. Literally tones of online resources to help with coding. (Fyi, ICT is a pointless gcse in comparison, you literally do the microsoft office suite and he should already have a basic grasp of this and use similar products incidentally in other courses)

APurpleSquirrel Tue 25-Feb-20 11:08:33

I'd say CS would be the more useful, especially if he already has an aptitude for maths.
Our world is becoming increasingly tech based & the ability to programme & code is increasingly in demand (both DH & DB work in IT).
For online resources check out Code Academy.

ErrolTheDragon Tue 25-Feb-20 11:53:28

There are lots of online resources for coding, and it's entirely possible for someone with an aptitude for it to learn programming independently (especially if they have eg a raspberry pi). That's not synonymous with what you'll learn in a CS gcse, of course. You can argue it either way - my DD did CS gcse and then to AS but she was doing the old-style and had more option slots - she's very much a STEM type but if she'd had one less choice I think she'd have kept the drama rather than CS and learned some programming herself, with my help if necessary.

sashh Tue 25-Feb-20 12:03:33

If he is good at maths then CS will fit better.

It's all to do with logic.

Programming / coding is about breaking things down into logical steps.

There are a few options to learn but I really like small BASIC (free download) back in the 1970s they introduced children to programming with a huge plastic' turtle' that you had to program things like, move forward 20, now turn left, you can do this is small basic with a (virtual) turtle that draws on your screen.

Being good at maths gives you options for the programs you write eg writing a program to 'solve' triangles, equations, draw graphs etc.

It is more theory that anything, and it is possible (theoretically) to teach it without touching a computer.

DioneTheDiabolist Tue 25-Feb-20 12:08:36

At DS's school, they only allow pupils to do CS if they are A grade maths students, so that might be something to consider.

TeenPlusTwenties Tue 25-Feb-20 12:31:12

I would like to disagree that RE is pointless.

In today's world where people mix more with different faiths, surely understanding where different people are coming from in their views is highly important.

Understanding issues such as abortion, or medical testing, or divorce, or food rules is highly relevant to the modern world.

With so much bad press / misunderstanding of Islam, gaining an insight into that religion I think is particularly beneficial.
A better insight into Christianity and how it fits with British laws/culture is also valuable.

Giroscoper Tue 25-Feb-20 20:53:30

Computer Science is very maths based, Ds took it for GCSE (was the only student to get a 9 in the class) and there is a lot of online resources to help with coding or any element of the course.

Ds1 did OCR board which looks at
Paper 1 Computer Systems
Systems architecture
Wired and wireless networks
Network topologies, protocols and layers
System security
System software
Ethical, legal, cultural and environmental concerns

Paper 2 is Computational thinking, algorithm and programming (Maths/logical thinking.)
Programming techniques
Producing robust programs
Computational logic
Translators and facilities of languages
Data representation

You can reverse engineer degrees, The Russell Group has an online resource that mean you can look at degrees and work backwards from there. So for Ds1 who is looking to do CompSci at uni, they don't want Computer Science A level, they want maths, further maths and physics or another physical science. So just look at stuff for fun, that is what Ds did when he was in year 8.

I don't know anything about RS though grin

WhyAmIPayingFees Tue 25-Feb-20 23:47:08

Our son dumped RS at the earliest opportunity and did GCSE computer science, with our full support. The theory part he found hard but he loved the programming. I really do not know why school resources are wasted on RS. It’s just not a real subject in my view.

sendsummer Wed 26-Feb-20 05:27:28

RE It’s just not a real subject in my view
STEM is important and interesting but devoting the majority of time to it too early diminishes students’ abilities to understand, articulate and engage in wider issues and cultural conversations. Even more so if parents have a restricted view of education themselves. Early STEM specialism at A level in the UK already runs the risk of creating one dimensional adults.
If DCs have a natural aptitude in STEM, GCSEs should IMO be a balance between those subjects and a broader education when there is still opportunity. Subjects like RE develop writing skills, formulating arguments, creativity, emotional intelligence and a foundation for cultural references. All very important for long term prospects.

RedskyAtnight Wed 26-Feb-20 07:40:26

TBH you could argue that any subject was a waste of time if you put your mind to it.

History - who cares about what happened in the past?
English - well, yes, it's handy to learn to read and write, but once you've got the basic skills what more do you need?
Maths - arithmetic is useful, but why do I need to know that the angles in a cyclic quadrilateral add up to 360 degrees?

the point about education up to GCSE level is that you are given a broad base of skills and knowledge to equip you for later life. Plus you have chance to understand where your interests lie. I would definitely argue that (in England at least, don't know much about other UK nations) secondary school has become more about learning to pass exams than educating children, but that's a whole different discussion.

Back to OP's question, I don't think you can say one subject is more valuable than another. They are just different.

TeenPlusTwenties Wed 26-Feb-20 07:45:13

When I was working as a software developer and then project manager, properly literate computer scientists were, if not rare, then certainly in the minority. The ability to write reports, specifications, user guides etc in a coherent manner is really important.

You don't need CS at GCSE to do it at A level. You don't need CS at A level to do it at Degree level (I think that's still true).

PostNotInHaste Wed 26-Feb-20 11:50:34

One thing to consider is if he might want to do CS A level. As said , you don’t have to have the GCSE but it sounds from what we are being told that it will make the first few months harder especially at a school where most have it.

SleepDeprivedElf Wed 26-Feb-20 11:54:57

CS is a much better choice imho - he is likely to use a computer daily. CS at GCSE level will help him to understand how computers "think" / work...

FiddleOnTheRoof Thu 27-Feb-20 00:15:08

I feel both are ‘real’ subjects am afraid. Love all views given here and really appreciate them all.

RE does allow you to view the world from another’s/different perspective. It opens up topics for debate which are current and relevant to the society we live in, thereby giving the student a wider perspective of the world they live in.

CS on the other hand does seem more immediately tangible/usability.

No sure we’re any closer to choosing but the websites have been helpful. Thanks Giro and APurpleSquirrel

OP’s posts: |
raspberryrippleicecream Thu 27-Feb-20 00:53:10

DS2 did RE last year, he couldn't do CS as it clashed with music.

He has always been more Maths based than English, and I was a bit worried about the essay content but got a much higher grade in the RE than either of his English exams.

sashh Thu 27-Feb-20 06:36:39

* The ability to write reports, specifications, user guides etc in a coherent manner is really important.*

Wow that caused a flashback to O level Computing in 1983. We had to produce 'documentation' for any program entered into assessment.

The teacher's husband had been working with computers for 20+ years (apparently he had to explain what computers were when he started) so we used his company's in house documentation.

ErrolTheDragon Thu 27-Feb-20 09:37:01

* Wow that caused a flashback to O level Computing in 1983. We had to produce 'documentation' for any program entered into assessment.*

I should jolly well think so! Communicating with the computer can be the easy part of creating good, usable software. grin

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