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Senior Cycle Subject Descriptions


Senior Cycle - Accounting

Subject Content Accounting is a business studies option within the Leaving Certificate programme. It covers aspects of business and social life which are not dealt with in any other subject in that programme. It is concerned with the preparation, recording, extraction, presentation and analysis of financial information for the purpose of making economic decisions. The course also involves a Management Accounting section where the student will learn how to analyse business costs and how to prepare budgets. Topics covered include: Financial Statements Preparation     Farm Accounts          Club Accounts     Company Accounts Manufacturing Accounts                    Financial Statements - Analysis and Interpretation       Budgeting    Break-even Analysis     Cost Classification      Accounting Theory and Principles

Third Level Entry Requirements This subject is a requirement for entry into Commerce – Accounting(NUIG)

Exam Structure The subject is examined at higher and ordinary level. Both levels involve one exam of three hours duration. The exam paper is made up of three sections, the first two are based on the Financial Accounting section of the course and the third covers the Management Accounting section. Questions must be answered from all sections of the exam paper.

Comments The course is numerically based but theory and procedures must be learned also. While the student needs to be comfortable with numbers he or she does not need to be at higher maths level.   Junior Certificate Business Studies Course provides a good foundation for this course but it is not essential. It is possible to take it up at senior cycle but one should take a teacher’s advice and be prepared for extra work. This course offers a hard working student the real possibility of high grades because of the unambiguous nature of the questions. An organised student with a likeness for order will be particularly suited to this course.

Careers: Accounting can be useful in - Accountancy, Auditing, Banking, Booking-keeping, Clerical work, Business teaching, Administration work, Hotel Management, Receptionist, Insurance, Market Research, Purchasing work, Quantity Surveyor, Sales Representative, Store management, Taxation work, Marketing, Computer work, Advertising and Business Law.

 Senior Cycle - Agricultural Science

Agricultural science is the study of the science and technology underlying the principles and practices of agriculture. It aims to develop knowledge, skills and attitudes concerning the factors that affect the long-term well-being of agricultural resources, and places emphasis on the managed use of these resources

Third Level Entry Requirements  This subject is not an essential requirement for any courses in the CAO system.

Podcast  Listen to Audio Podcast on this subject Preparing for Leaving Cert Agricultural Science - 20mins [Source - ] 

Subject Content

The course consists of the study of a variety of aspects of agriculture under the following headings:

  • Soils
  • The general structure and function of plants
  • Farm crops - cereal and roots
  • Farm crops - grassland
  • Trees and shelter
  • Structure and function of the animal body
  • The cow, the sheep, horse, and pig
  • Farm buildings (fro school assessment only)
  • Farm-house environment (for school assessment only)

Exam Structure The examination in Agricultural Science consist of (a) a terminal examination paper(75%) and (b) an assessment(25%) of the work of the candidate during the course under the headings: identification of plant and animal types associated with agriculture; practical experience with crops, livestock, house and farmyard layouts; investigations carried out related to ecology, soil science, animal physiology, plant physiology, genetics and microbiology.


Agricultural Science is useful in: Farmer, Farm Manager, Agricultural Advisor, Horticulturist, Seed Analyst, Veterinary Surgeon, Botanist, Animal Breeder, Agricultural Inspector, Teacher, Forester, Agricultural Sales, Environmental Science.

Senior Cycle - Art 

What is Art?

The Art course for Leaving Certificate consists of two main parts. The practical side of the course is about developing the student's ability in a range of artistic fields and disciplines. The syllabus permits a huge number of media, from the fine arts such as sculpture, drawing, and painting, to puppet-making, embroidery, calligraphy, metalwork, and pottery.

Students are expected to spend the duration of the course practicing and developing their skills in several of these areas. Unlike the Junior Cert, the practical examination takes place over the course of a week in supervised sessions of up to five hours, during which students are to complete a project (such as a sketch or drawing) and submit it for evaluation.

The art course also features a written examination on History and Appreciation of Art, which counts for 37.5% of the marks. The exam is divided into three sections, one on Irish art, one on European art, and a final section on artistic appreciation. The course content is extremely broad, and covers everything from prehistoric art to the modern day, but students are free to focus their studies on a few narrow areas of interest such as renaissance or Celtic art. Diagrams and illustrative sketches are encouraged in the exam.

Note that the Leaving Cert Art course has nothing to do with the portfolio submissions which art and design colleges often require. The course does not aim to build a portfolio, and all marks are given for work done on the day. However, it is common to take Art while preparing a portfolio, and much of the practice work done in class can be included.

 What kind of student might Art suit?

  • Students who have shown an aptitude for art, such as by getting high grades in Junior Cert Art.
  • Anyone considering a career in a creative discipline such as Architecture, Marketing, Film and Entertainment, Web Design, Fashion, Game Design, or Advertising.
  • Students who are weak in other areas such as languages or mathematics may find it easier to achieve points in Art.
  • Students who are looking for a break from intensive memory-work in their other subjects, or to reduce pressure on themselves in June by having a subject with exams in April/May.

 Third Level Entry Requirements

An Art portfolio is an essential entry requirement for most third-level Art & Design courses


 Art is useful in: Advertising, Art Teacher, Architecture, Crafts, Fashion Design, Florist, Furniture Design, Graphic Design, Photography, Design ( Interior/ Product/ Stage & Theatre/ Textile ), Animation, Make-up for Film/TV, Sign-writing, Multimedia, Fine Art.

 Senior Cycle - Biology

In Brief If your chosen subject is Biology you will gain an understanding of your body and the natural world in which you live.  The course uses practical activity and investigation to develop your skills and knowledge.  The scope of Biology is wide and varied and covers not only the traditional study of plants and animals but also areas such as molecular biology and biotechnology which have clear relevance to modern society.

Biology is the study of life. Through the study of Biology students employ the processes of science to explore the diversity of life and the inter-relationships between organisms and their environment. They become aware of the use of living organisms and their products to enhance human health and the environment. What is Biology?

Students are provided with the knowledge, skills and understanding to pursue further education, training and employment in biology-related fields, and to make judgements on contemporary issues in biology and science that impact on their daily lives and on society. The syllabus consists of approximately 70% biological knowledge, understanding and skills; the remaining 30% deals with the technological, political, social and economic aspects of Biology. The syllabus introduced in 2002 has been developed in response to current knowledge and application of biology. Account has been taken of the need to include contemporary biological technologies such as DNA profiling and genetic screening. It aims to create in students an awareness of the application of biological knowledge to modern society and to develop an ability to make informed evaluations about contemporary biological issues. The course covers a wide range of topics, including cell structure and diversity, metabolism, genetics and human and flowering plant anatomy and physiology. The general principles of ecology are studied, and one particular ecosystem is examined in detail. An ecology field trip is arranged in the 5th Year. Particular emphasis is placed on the practical aspects of biology, and there are a number of mandatory activities that each student must carry out for themselves. What type of student might Biology suit? Students who enjoyed the Biology section of Junior Cert. Science

Podcast  Listen to Audio Podcast on this subject Preparing for Leaving Cert Biology - 22 mins [Source - ] 

Subject Content

The course is divided into three units

  • Unit 1 The study of life (ecology and food science)
  • Unit 2 The Cell (Genetics, photosynthesis, respiration and enzymes)
  • Unit 3 The organism (a study of body systems, plant biology and microbiology)

There are 22 mandatory practical activities. Three of these are examined each year, two of which have to be answered. A laboratory record of these activities has to be kept and available for inspection by The Department of Education and Science. An ecology portfolio has also to be completed. As of yet no marks are awarded for the laboratory notebook or the portfolio. There is a strong emphasis on social and applied aspects e.g. when studying the breathing system a breathing disorder is studied.

Exam Structure

The examination at higher and ordinary level is three hours duration. The exam paper is divided into three units.

  • Section A - Six short questions (answer five) 100 marks.
  • Section B - Three questions on practical activities (answer two) 60 marks.
  • Section C - Six long questions (answer four) 240 marks.
  • Comments
  • It is recommended that a student taking Leaving Certificate Biology has a good understanding of Junior Science at Higher Level.
  • Each student must have an aptitude and interest for laboratory work.
  • A considerable amount of learning and study is necessary to do well in this subject.

Subject Requirement for 3rd Level?

Biology is essential for Genetics(UCC), Human Health & Diseases(TCD), Home Ec. Teaching & Biology(St. Angela’s)

Careers: Biology is useful in: Agriculture, Agricultural Research, Ambulance Driver, Biomedical Scientist, Biologist, Biology Teacher, Food Catering , Podiatrist, Dentist, Dairy Scientist, Dental hygienist, Dentist, Dietician, Doctor, Food Science Technician, Forester, Health Inspector, Horticulturist, Laboratory Assistant, Marine Biologist, Microbiologist, Occupational Therapist, Optician, Pharmacist, Physiotherapist,  Radiographer, Speech Therapist, Sports Scientist, Veterinary Surgeon, Zoologist.

 Senior Cycle - Business

This is a practical and vocationally-oriented course that introduces students to the world of Business in a straightforward and logical way. It aims to create an awareness of the importance of business activity and to develop a positive and ethical attitude towards it. The importance of people in Business is highlighted. The course sets out to illustrate the process of setting up a business and developing a new product or service. It emphasises the importance of good management and deals with skills and activities necessary for good management practice. It also deals with the impact of technology, foreign trade, global firms and competition and with business structures and the national economy

Third Level Entry Requirements  This subject is not an essential requirement for any courses in the CAO system.

Subject Content

  • This subject is concerned with understanding the environment in which business operates in Ireland and in the wider world.  It also involves equipping the students with a positive view of enterprise and its applications in the business environment, in both the public and private sectors. 
  • There are 7 core units covering the following topics:

 Introduction to people in business      Enterprise       Managing 1 & 2      Business in action     

 Domestic Environment                        International Environment. 

  • There is a common syllabus covering Higher and Ordinary level, which will fulfil the aims and objectives of the course. 
  • A flexibility of design that caters for present day Irish business education and yet is capable of adaptation to future developments in a structured and efficient way. 
  • It assists students to develop their education for adult and working life including the creation of positive attitudes towards self-employment. 

  Higher Level – 3 hour paper (400 marks); 3 sections. 

Section 1 – Short questions (8/10) 80 marks.  Section 2 – Applied Business Question – 80 marks (compulsory).   Section 3 – Long Questions (60 marks per question (4/7))

Ordinary Level – 2.5 hour paper (400 marks); 2 sections.    Section 1 – Short Question (10/15) 100 marks.  Section 2 – Long Questions (75 marks per question (4/8)). 


  • The subject is suited to students who are willing to work hard and caters for all abilities. 
  • It is not necessary for students to have studied Junior Certificate Business Studies, but this would be a help.The course content is factual and requires a lot of learning, containing only a few mathematical elements.
  • Ideally, students would have an interest in business and current affairs and would have an up to date knowledge of economic environment.

Senior Cycle - Chemistry

What is Chemistry?

The Leaving Cert. course follows directly from Junior Cert Science, and deals with more topics in a lot more depth. The course includes 28 mandatory practical experiments which must be completed in the lab, as well as a written paper including questions on the experiments and examining the theory and applications of chemistry.

Why study Chemistry?

Chemistry exists everywhere not just in laboratories but in every living thing on land and sea and in our bodies. It is often described as 'the central science' containing a lots of formulae. So, if you enjoyed Junior Cert Science and you have done well in this and honours Maths you should be a good Chemistry student.  Chemistry is an important element in the study of medical/scientific courses:  Medicine, Denistry, Veterinary Science, Physiotheraphy, Nursing, Pharmacy and Medical Laboratory Technology.

What kind of student might Chemistry suit?

  • Students considering a career in any scientific discipline, such as Chemistry, Biology, Environmental Science, Medicine, Pharmacology, Biochemistry, Microbiology, etc..
  • Students who were successful in Junior Cert. Science, particularly in the Chemistry section.

Third Level Entry Requirements Chemistry HC is an essential entry requirement to: Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy(UCC), Veterinary Medicine(UCD), Pharmacy(TCD & RCSI), Dentistry(TCD), Human Nutrition & Dietetics(DIT) Podcast  Listen to Audio Podcast on this subject Preparing for Leaving Cert Chemistry - 15 mins [Source - ] 

Subject Content Leaving Cert. Chemistry is comprised of all the essential and relevant topics within general chemistry. The major topics involved include the following:

  1. Atomic structure
  2. Volumetric analysis
  3. Organic chemistry
  4. Water chemistry
  5. Reaction mechanisms.

There also is an option to be taken as part of the course which involves the study of atmospheric and industrial chemistry or the study of materials and electrochemistry.

Experimental investigations are an essential part of the leaving certificate course. Each student must complete at least 28 experiments over the duration of the course.

Experimental work is examined as part of the Leaving Cert exam and forms the basis for a minimum of three questions on the exam paper.

Exam Structure

The Leaving Cert exam is three hours in duration. Each candidate must answer at least two questions from Section A (experimental section) and a maximum of six questions from Section B.

There are eleven questions in total on the exam paper, each carrying fifty marks.

There is no element of continuous assessment but experimental copies must be available for inspection by the State Examinations Commission. Students taking Chemistry have to memorize the chemical components of a series of prescribed experiments. They will need to present the elements of four such experiments in their exam.


  • It is recommended that a student undertaking the course has a good understanding of Junior Cert Science at the Higher Level.
  • Each student should have an aptitude for and interest in laboratory work.
  • A student would be expected to have a reasonable level of Junior Cert Maths, either at Higher or Ordinary level.
  • Recent observations from journalists writing about careers have suggested that the Irish Economy is experiencing a shortage of people with Chemistry skills. Yet points requirements to get into Applied Chemistry courses in Institutes of Technology are among the lowest. This is the case because the demand for these courses among school leavers is low

Careers: Chemistry can be useful for -  Chemistry Teacher, Chemist, Food Scientist, Chemical Engineer.Dental Craftsperson, Dental Hygienist, Dentist, Dietician, Doctor, Engineer, Food Science Technology,  Health Inspector, Laboratory Work, Nurse, Optician, Physiotherapist, Pharmacist, Physiotherapist, Radiographer, Forensic Scientist, and Cosmetic Science.

 Senior Cycle - Construction Studies

Construction Studies introduces students to the knowledge and skills associated with construction technology and construction materials and practices. This is achieved through theoretical study and integrated practical projects which provide a basis for the thorough exploration of materials and processes.

Third Level Entry Requirements  This subject is not an essential requirement for any courses in the CAO system.

Subject Content The course is essentially about the study of buildings and the built environment. The theoretical part of the course examines all parts of building from the planning stages to the completed building. The course is studied under the following main headings. Planning and Design Drawings and Documents Site Preliminaries and Foundations Walls, Partitions Floors, Roofs Fireplaces Windows and Doors Stairs Plastering and Painting Plumbing and Heating Services Drainage

Exam Structure The examination at higher and ordinary levels has three separate components.  Section A (50%)  Three hour written paper worth 300 marks. The exam consists of 10 questions out of which five have to be attempted. Question 1 is a compulsory drawing question of a building detail. Section B (25%)  4 hour practical woodwork exam where the student makes a small item out of timber under exam conditions. The exam normally takes place in May. This accounts for 150 marks. Section C (25%)  Building Project where the student makes a building detail, a scale model of a building or a craft piece. The student also produces a portfolio to accompany the project that they make. Ideally this project must be completed by Christmas. This accounts for 150 marks. Comment

  • It is recommended that a student taking Leaving Certificate Construction Studies has a general interest in buildings and the built environment.
  • Each student should have an aptitude for and interest in design and practical work.
  • Woodwork and/or Technical Graphics would be desirable subjects to have taken at Junior Certificate though not compulsory.

 Careers: Construction Studies can be useful in- Architecture, Auctioneering , Bricklaying, Construction Studies Teacher, Building Management, Carpenter, Civil and Structural Engineer, Electrician, Environment Designer, Heating and Ventilation Technician, Plasterer, Quantity Surveyor, Site Manager, Technical Sales, Town Planning, Fire Safety Officer, Insurance Assessor.

 Senior Cycle - Design and Communication Graphics

Design and Communication Graphics provides students with the opportunity for visualizing and comprehending information presented verbally or graphically. Problem solving and creative thinking skills are developed through the analysis and solution of both 2- and 3-dimensional graphics. Graphics and design are communicated using freehand sketching skills, traditional drafting equipment and CAD.

If you are interested in taking this subject to Leaving Certificate level you will probably have taken Tech Graphics to Junior Certificate level. If you have not studied Junior Cert Tech. Graphics you need to seek the advice of a teacher before choosing this subject. There is a great emphasis in the Leaving Certificate course on comprehension, analysis and problem solving. In simple terms you must be able to understand what has to be done, analyse how you are going to approach it and then proceed to solve the problem. Although it is not an essential subject for either architecture or engineering it is regarded as a useful asset if you are thinking of a technical course. This course now has a project as part of it.

Third Level Entry Requirements  This subject is not an essential requirement for any courses in the CAO system.

Subject Content

Consists of a core section comprised of (a) plane and solid geometry and (b) communication computer graphics. There is also an options section of applied graphics, two options are to be taken.

Exam Structure One Terminal Exam Paper  60%  Student Assignment  40%

Terminal Exam(60%): 3 hours duration.

1:   5 parts from various areas of the core - Student must attempt 4 parts - Compulsory - Marks 60 2 - 5:  This section of the paper will contain four questions which will be based on material from the following syllabus areas:     * Projection Systems     * Conic Sections     * Intersection and Development of Surfaces     * Descriptive Geometry of Lines and Planes

Each question will be a multi-part question - Student must attempt 2 questions - Marks 90(2x45) 6: This question will be based on Dynamic Mechanisms - This will be a multi-part question - Student must attempt 2 questions - Marks 90(2x45)  7:     This question will be based on Structural Forms 8:      This question will be based on Surface Geometry 9:      This question will be based on Geologic Geometry 10:     This question will be based on Assemblies              Total:     240 marks Student Assignment(40%) Emphasis on:   1.  Elements of design 2.   Communication graphics  3.   Use of ICT’S in design Different theme for higher and ordinary level May take the form of:   A design investigation and modification A concept design (160 marks)

 Comment     * It is a big advantage to have studied Technical Graphics at Junior Cert. level.     * Free-hand sketching is a main component of the core therefore Junior Cert Art, Materials Technology Wood and/or Technology would serve as an advantage in this area.     * A basic knowledge of ICT skills is also beneficial.     * Students must also appreciate that work completed must conform to a high standard of  neatness and draftsmanship.

Careers: DCG  can be useful for all Engineering andTechnicalcareers, Architecture,  Construction studies, Carpenter, Fitter, Toolmaker, Industrial Designer, Maintenance and Service Personnel, Motor Mechanic, Technical Sales, Structural Design, Industrial Design Town Planner, Draughtsperson

 Senior Cycle - Engineering

Subject Group: Practical This subject is 'hands- on' and involves working with tools and machinery on physical things like metals and plastic. It will involve designing, planning and building things. 

Engineering promotes an educational understanding of the materials and a knowledge of the processes associated with mechanical engineering. This is achieved through the development of skills and initiative in the planning, development and realization of technological projects in a safe manner.

You would really have to have studied Junior Certificate Metalwork to have a good idea as to what is involved in Engineering. There is a good mix of theory and practice involved in this subject. Many students enjoy the practical aspect but are not too happy when it comes to the theory. You will have to present a project as part of the Leaving Certificate examination, so talk to the teacher involved so that you know exactly the balance between the theory and practicals in this subject.


Workshop Processes

  • Health and safety
  • Benchwork
  • Heat treatment of metals
  • Plastics processing
  • Fabrication and finishing of metals
  • Machining
  • Technology

Materials and Technology

  • Health and safety
  • Classification and origin of metals
  • Structure of metals
  • Iron and steel
  • Non-ferrous metals
  • Heat treatment of metals
  • Corrosion of metals
  • Materials testing
  • Plastics
  • Joining of materials
  • Machining
  • Metrology
  • Manufacturing processes
  • Technology


Exam Structure

Engineering is assessed at both Ordinary level and Higher level by means of a terminal examination paper(50%), a student project(25%) and a practical examination(25%).

Third Level Entry Requirements  This subject is not an essential requirement for any courses in the CAO system.

Careers: Engineeringt is a great advantage for Mechanical Engineering at Third Level Some of the careers Engineering can be useful for - Mechanics, Aircraft Technicians,  Engineering Teacher, Fitter, Sustainable Energy, Structural and Civil Engineering, Motor mechanic,  Panel Beating, Service and Maintenance Personnel, Technical Sales People, Metal Fabricator.

 Senior Cycle - French

French as a Leaving Cert subject aims to bring students closer to fluency in the French language, as well as developing a good knowledge of literature, culture, geography, and national history to provide a context for communication.

What kind of student might French suit?

  • Anyone with an interest in French culture, history, and language.
  • Students who are considering working in France, Canada, or international relations in the future.
  • Students who can already speak French and want easy points.

Third Level Entry Requirements

A modern language is an essential requirement for entry to most courses in Colleges such as UCC, UCD, NUIG, Maynooth Univ,etc This subject is a specific requirement for entry into a number of third level courses, e.g.Law & French(UCC). Check College websites for exact requirements. Subject Content Modern languages require students to be proficient in the following skills     * Oral/speaking     * Written     * Aural/listening     * Reading A wide variety of themes are covered, for example     * Family     * School     * Hobbies     * Sport     * Current affairs Grammar and Cultural Awareness are essential elements.

Exam Structure Section                          Higher Level      Ordinary Level
Speaking                                                       25%                   20%
Listening Comprehension                                 20%                   25%
Reading Comprehension                                  30%                   40%
Writing                                                           25%                   15%

 Leaving Certificate Exam Tips:

  • the key to doing well is practice and individuality. The more  essays you write and the comprehension passages  you read the easier it becomes.
  • try to get your hands on as many past mock comprehensions as well as doing all the past papers so you are well trained in the format and question types.
  • after each comprehension make sure it is correct using the marking scheme
  • any vocabulary you don't understand should be noted and learned as you will most likely see it again or you will be able to use it in your written work.
  • you should be able to express yourself and talk about different topics so a rich vocabulary is key.
  • learn five new words every night going to bed and try to recall them in the morning
  • an extensive knowledge of of the different tenses will be needed for all aspects of the French exam.
  • some people find downloading french cd's onto their ipod and listening to it regularly is very helpful.
  • when preparing for the aural exam, write out answers to common questions, learn these answers and practise saying them aloud so it comes across as natural as possible.

 The Oral Exam( 25% ) This takes place in March/April of Sixth Year.  13 mins - French French  Interview with examiner; students may prepare a document Aural/Listening Exam (40 mins) (20%) This exam takes place after the written examination in June. It involves listening to a variety of dialogues and news items in the target language and then answering in English. Written Exam (2 ½ hours) Reading Comprehension is worth 30% of total exam at Higher Level and 40% at Ordinary Level. There are literary and journalistic passages. For Higher Level the written section involves formal and informal letters, diary entry, message/fax/email, expressing an opinion, and personalised writing.

Careers: You must have a foreign language for entry to most courses in the colleges of the National University of Ireland i.e. UCC, UCD, NUIG, Maynooth, RCSI, NCAD, Shannon College of Hotel Management, St. Angela’s Sligo You also need it to become a Cadet in the Army or Air Corps French is useful for - Air Steward/Stewardess, Air Traffic Controller, Au Pair, Bilingual Secretary, Chef, Courier, Hotel Receptionist, International Marketing, Export Careers, Interpreter, Translator, International Driver, Pilot, Travel Agent, Journalist, Importer, Work in the Department of Foreign Affairs, Hotel management, Tourism.

 Senior Cycle - Geography

What is Geography?

Geography is the study of people, their environment, and the interaction between the two. The course follows from Junior Cert Geography, and covers very similar topics (such as rocks, soils, oceans, population movements, map-reading, and economic activities) in a lot more detail. There are a large number of optional sections on the course, allowing students to focus on the sections of the course which they like.

 What kind of student might Geography suit?

  • Students considering further study in areas such as geography, economics, environmental science, or politics.
  • Students who achieved solid results for Junior Cert Geography can expect much of the same for the Leaving Cert course.

 Third Level Entry Requirements:

This subject is not an essential requirement for any courses in the CAO system.

Subject content: Three Core Units:

  1. 2.   Regional geography 3.   Geographical investigation

Two Elective Units (pick one):

  1. 5.  Patterns and processes in the human environment

Four Optional Units (pick one; higher level only):

  1. 7.  Geoecology 8.  Culture and identity 9.  The Atmosphere-Ocean environment

The teaching of geographical skills is an important element of the course; students are encouraged to improve their ability to gather information (from map-reading, statistics, charts), present information (using diagrams, maps, and writing), and evaluate information (separate fact from opinion, make informed judgements, propose sensible solutions to problems). These skills are assessed in the Geographical Investigation.

Exam Structure: Leaving Certificate Geography is assessed at Ordinary and Higher level in ascending order of difficulty. There are two assessment components:

  1. Written Examination (80%)
  2. Geographical Investigation Report (20%)

Students complete two questions on the core units, one question on an elective unit, and one question on an optional unit.


Geography can be useful in - Civil Engineering, Geology, Construction, Town Planning, Architecture, Meteorology, Surveying, Mineralogy , Tourism, Estate Agency.

Senior Cycle – History 

What is History?

History aims to record and analyse things which have happened in the past, with an emphasis on both how and why events occurred. It deals with human experience and It is often studied out of personal interest, but also develops important skills such as self-discipline and critical thinking which are of life-long importance.

It is crucial when studying history to pay attention to the evidence presented, and to keep in mind factors such as bias and propaganda. Students are encouraged to consider the validity of different interpretations of evidence to develop a more balanced and grounded judgement.

Research skills such as drawing on a wide variety of sources of evidence (such as maps, public records, political cartoons, and memoirs) are developed throughout the course. When writing, students are taught to produce focused, logical, and supported arguments.

Note: Leaving Cert History is completely different from the Junior Cert course! 

What kind of student might History suit?

  • Students who enjoy and appreciate history, and would like to improve their knowledge.
  • Students who are willing to commit a lot of time; History is a demanding subject.
  • Students who have strong English language skills, a good vocabulary  and are able to write. 
  • Students aiming to improve their self-discipline and research skills.

Third Level Entry Requirements  This subject is not an essential requirement for any courses in the CAO system.

Subject Content:

The Leaving Cert History course covers the Late Modern Period(1815-1993).

This is divided into six Irish topics and six European topics.

Students are encouraged to develop research skills and an appreciation for the society in which they live.

 It can bring students in touch with human experiences that are very different from their own and present an opportunity to improve their critical thinking.

Exam Structure

Assessment consists of two components: A written examination paper (80%) and A research study report (20%)

Careers: History can be useful for – Law, Politics, Journalism, Social Work, Sociology, Archaeology,  Public Service,        Museum Work, Researcher, Teacher, Media.


Senior Cycle - Physics


What is Physics?

The Leaving Cert physics course follows directly from Junior Cert Science, and covers more topics in greater depth. The course is heavily based around experiments; students are required to complete and write reports of 24 practical experiments throughout the two years, and be fully aware of how to accurately record and analyse results, and how to minimise and accommodate for experimental errors. These laboratory experiments, along with many more non-compulsory experiments are examined in detail on a section of the written paper.

The course also involves a lot of theory which is tested on the written examination. Students are expected to be able to use various formulae with respect to SI units and significant figures, and have a good understanding of the role in physics in modern society and technology.

What type of student might Physics suit? 

  • Students considering a career in any mathematical or scientific discipline, such as mathematical sciences, statistics, engineering, physics, or computer science.
  • Students who were successful in their Junior Cert science examination, particularly in the Physics section of the course.

Third Level Entry Requirements Physics is an essential requirement for Theoretical Physics(TCD) Podcast  Listen to Audio Podcast on this subject - Preparing for Leaving Cert Physics - 15 mins [Source - ] 

Subject Content

The physics studied is broken into eight topics;  (a) six compulsory  (b) two option sections (Higher paper only, one to be done)

Compulsory sections are: 1. Optics / Waves: the study of light and sound and real life applications of the theory. 2. Mechanics: time, space, distance, speed and acceleration. 3. Heat: changes of state, energy conversions and mathematical problems. 4. Electricity: develops on from simple circuits to more detailed concepts. 5. Electricity and Magnetism: gravity, relationship between electricity and magnetism, study of how a motor works, ac. and dc. circuits and phenomena with real world applications. 6. Atomic Physics: cathode rays, x-rays, radioactive decay, fission and fusion, nuclear reactors and real world applications.


Two option sections are: 1. Particle Physics: recent type of physics, delving into the new discoveries leading to a better understanding of the formation of the universe and where we came from. 2. Applied Electricity: detailed study of electricity and the working of a motor developing from electricity already studied.

At Higher Level, there is a deeper, more quantitative treatment of physics.  The two option sections are omitted from the Ordinary level course.

The course also consists of 24 core mandatory experiments complimenting each section in an aim to develop students’ technical skills and enhance understanding and reinforce key concepts.

Exam Structure

Leaving Certificate Physics is assessed by means of one terminal examination paper at each level.  Students are required to keep a record of their practical work over the two years of the course.  The Leaving Cert physics exam is three hours in duration.

Section A:

  • Answer 3 out of 4 questions
  • 120 marks: 40 marks per question
  • Questions are based on experimental procedures and use of results

Section B:

  • Answer 5 out of 8 questions
  • 280 marks: 56 marks per question
  • Questions are more broad and theory based


While there is an element of maths in the Physics course, Honours Maths is not a requirement to do Honours Physics.  Students should not avoid Physics on the basis of not having Honours Maths.  It is entirely possible to get on well in Honours Physics without Honours Maths.

Pupils should become able to draw and read graphs and be competent in using a calculator throughout the course.  The Physics syllabus has strong links with the other science subjects especially Chemistry.  There are strands of Physics which overlap with Woodwork and Construction especially the electricity and heat sections.

Pupils who will gain the most from studying Physics are those who have an interest in Science at Junior Cert level and those who enjoy learning about how things work.  The science, technology and society section allows students the chance to see where the Physics they are learning applies as in TVs, car motors and electricity in the home and also, to see some of the industrial applications of certain topics.


Physics contributes to a student’s future career in many ways. It helps, in conjunction with the other Leaving Certificate subjects, to provide a broad, balanced education for any student. Physics teaches students to think logically and enables them to express their thoughts in a concise manner. The skills and knowledge developed through their study of physics can be useful in a wide variety of situations.

Physics is a useful subject for many courses and careers and is a great foundation for a broad range of scientific, engineering and technical careers. Many careers benefit from the logical and numeracy skills developed by the study of Physics. Many technical courses involve components of physics.

For students who are interested in proceeding further with Physics, check out the sector on Physical and Mathematical Sciences in, and also the Institute of Physics, which provides information on the range of careers that students can follow after their study of physics at third level. 

Leaving Cert Vocational Programme(LCVP)

Depending on the combination of subjects that a student chooses for the Leaving Cert, a student may decide to add the LCVP Link Modules. The Link Modules  are worth up to 70 points on the CAO system.

Link Module 1: Preparation for the World of Work

Unit 1: Introduction to Working Life Unit 2: Job Seeking Skills Unit 3: Career Investigation Unit 4: Work Placement

Link Module 2: Enterprise Education

Unit 1: Enterprise Skills Unit 2: Local Business EnterprisesUnit 3: Local Voluntary Organisations/Community Enterprises Unit 4: An Enterprise study.

                                                  Acknowledgement: Subject Choice )


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