That Blue Square Thing

Syllabus content:
PDF iconUnit 8 content – PDF doc to download
Note: this syllabus content is a slightly amended version of the one published freely on the web by AQA. I have made very minor adjustments to remove some content less suitable for students to use and it is presented here simply to allow the children I teach to download a usable copy of the syllabus content. It is copyright AQA and reproduced here simply to make access easier for students. No attempt to claim copyright is being made, although I could have copied the text into my own interpretation...

AQA Computer Science GCSE

This page is up to date for the AQA 8525 syllabus for exams from 2022.

Ethics, laws and environmental impacts of computing

This area of the course pulls content from different units. It will be tested on Paper 2 and will usually involve one or two longer questions - perhaps one 6 mark question and one 9 mark question. These require longer, more detailed answers and tend to involve weighing up two sides of an argument.

Reading a little about each topic and being able to weigh up arguments and use technical terms and knowledge are all important here.

PDF iconEthics introduction - intro slides, highlighting the privacy issue

PDF iconBooklet to print - an active way to revise the key knowledge required

The Privacy Issue

How much privacy individuals should be able to enjoy is a major element of this unit.

In modern life computers and data are everywhere. We use them every day but this menas that we trust companies, organisations and governments to look after our data appropriately. It also makes us, as individuals, subject to surveillance.

For example:

Apple airtags story - 20 January 2022

As individuals we may be concerned about these issues. Most people value their privacy and might question why a government agency might have access to our data or to be able to put us under surveillance. These are reasonable concerns. Certainly the ways we use computer systems in modern life means that it is much easier four our data to be looked at.

On the other hand, the government and the security services might argue that they need to be able to have access to private data and to be able to use surveillance where necessary. They would argue that they need to do so in order to keep us safe from terrorism, organised crime and from cyber-attacks. The argument would be that if you've done nothing wrong then you won't come under surveillance so you shouldn't be concerned about the threat.

Both sides of this argument have reasonable points. If using CCTV keeps people safer then it can be argued that having CCTV cameras is a reasonable price to pay for the safety it provides us with. On the other hand, where do you draw the line between reasonable surveillance and the actions of a police state? If what I'm doing is legal, why should someone be able to track what it is I'm up to?

Unit content

Much of the content for this unit crosses over with other units in the course.

The exam board says that they will only ask questions on the following parts of the course:

  1. cyber security, hacking and cracking - unit 6
  2. wireless networking - unit 5
  3. mobile technologies - units 4 and 5
  4. cloud computing - unit 4
  5. autonomous vehicles
  6. wearable technologies
  7. computer based implants

In addition you need to have some understanding of:

The privacy issue underlies all of these subjects and that links to the ways in which the law impacts on computer use. The impacts that our use of computers have on the environment is another theme that you need to be aware of and runs through many of the subject areas in this unit.

A way of structuring an answer in one topic area (hacking) is described below:

PDF iconHacking Answer Structure

Resources you might want to use to help build notes on each topic:

PDF iconUnit 8 Topic Grid - a way to structure notes on a Unit 8 topic (this may work better at A3 size)

PDF iconTwo hands - two hands on a page - some people prefer this way of working (it's easier if you draw around your own hands on A3 paper...)