Careers rarely develop the way we plan them. Our career path often takes many twists and turns, with particular events, choices and people influencing our direction.

We asked Naoise Pye from St. Michael's House to give some advice for people considering this job:

Naoise Pye

Social Care Worker

St. Michael's House

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Naoise Pye
You need to be interested in people, and want to help them. Interests in Creative Arts can help as well as having a degree in Social Studies and having plenty of work experience.
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The Social person's interests focus on some aspect of those people in their environment. In all cases the social person enjoys the personal contact of other people in preference to the impersonal dealings with things, data and ideas found in other groups.

Many will seek out positions where there is direct contact with the public in some advisory role, whether a receptionist or a counsellor. Social people are motivated by an interest in different types of people, and like diversity in their work environments. Many are drawn towards careers in the caring professions and social welfare area, whilst others prefer teaching and other 'informing' roles.
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Subject Choice for Leaving Cert...

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Biology

Ed Zone

These courses enable learners to gain recognition for the achievement of considerable knowledge in a range of subject areas, as for example in the Leaving Certificate and one-year Post Leaving Certificate courses.

Courses may be academic or practical in focus, and awards that are recognised by the National Framework of Qualifications may lead to progression opportunities higher up in the framework.

Employment Opportunities
The majority of people with certificates at this level are well prepared for occupations that involve using their knowledge and skills to help others. Examples include office secretary, customer service representatives, special needs assistant, retail salespersons and childcare workers.

Level on the National Framework of Qualifications
2 Years
Duration of course
Grades Awarded

Marks Distribution 2017:
Listed below are the percentage distributions of marks from the 26684 students who sat the Higher Level Biology exam in 2017.

Listed below are the percentage distributions of marks from the 7608 students who sat the Ordinary Level Biology exam in 2017.

In brief... header image

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 more aware of the use of living organisms and their products to enhance human health and the environment.


Why Study this?header image

Why Study Biology

  • Biology is a popular subject and is the study of life. It requires a lot of memory work so is a good choice for students with attention to detail and excellent memory work.
  • Many courses require at least one science subject and some even require two (see third level entry requirements). Therefore, it is a good idea to have at least one science subject to keep your options open.
  • Those considering medicine, nursing and related courses will find that this subject will be of huge benefit in their studies.

What kind of student would Biology suit?

Students who enjoyed science for Junior Cert might wish to consider studying biology at Senior Cycle. The course is a continuation of what was studied at Junior Cycle but in more detail. It is particularly suited to students who have scored highly in the Naturalist and Investigative areas in their interest test.

Recommendations/Tips

  • 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


Videos & Interviews header image


Read what others say about their Leaving Cert. Subject Choices...
Garda - Niamh Briggs
Niamh Briggs, An Garda SíochánaI took all the mainstream subjects along with French, Biology, Geography and Business Studies.  
  go to interview...
 
Garda - Bru Amerlynck
Bru Amerlynck, An Garda SíochánaHistory, Geography, French, Biology, English, Irish , Maths. Studying honours French and Irish helped me with those language modules in Templemore but other than that I'd say they havent played any real part in my career path. 
  go to interview...
 
Engineer - Process - John Smith
John Smith, Intel

Like most young people at the time of picking Leaving Certificate subjects I was completely undecided as to what I wanted to do so I kept my options open by choosing a Business subject - Business organisation, Science subject - Physics & Chemistry, language - German. After two years of science for Leaving Cert it was then I realised that I wanted to pursue a career in physical sciences.

The one disadvantage I had in starting college was that I hadn't studied Biology before (which was compulsory in first year college science) so straight away I needed to pay more attention to this subject in 1st year science. Had I known when picking leaving cert subjects that I wanted to pursue a career in physical sciences then Biology would have been a wise choice.

My PhD was in the area of physical chemistry (as opposed to organic/inorganic where most graduates end up in the pharmaceutical sector) and most of the chemistry associated with semiconductor processing is physical so it was a wise choice!

 
  go to interview...
 
Chef - David Kehoe
David Kehoe, Failte IrelandMaths, English, French, Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Home Economics. All of them influenced my career as I need all of them eg. without maths I couldn't deal with the financial part of the job. 
  go to interview...
 
Manufacturing Engineer - Lynsey Gargan
Lynsey Gargan, STEPSIn school I was limited by the amount of subjects offered. I went to an all girl's convent school and they had pretty much the stereotypical girl's school subjects then.

For my optional subjects I did Geography, H&E Social and Scientific and Biology. I had all the regular subjects too. English, Irish, Maths and French. I think it's fairly obvious from the above list that my subjects didn't have much of a influence over my third level education choices.

If subjects like physics, engineering etc., had been on offer, I think I would have taken them instead but they were not available to me. I don't believe choices made in school about subjects always have to dictate what you do in college. In my case it just meant I had to work a little harder in the first year of college to catch up.

My school subjects never stopped me. If you know what you like and what you want do, you will always find a way. To be honest it's the knowing what you like that's harder, there are lots of paths to achieve what you want in education today. 
  go to interview...
 
Operations Consultant - Marie Kinsella-White
Marie Kinsella-White, McDonald's

Subjects I took in my Leaving Cert were ~ Irish, English, Math, Accountancy, Biology, Art and Home Economics

When I read this question it really made me think about the subjects I took and how they have influenced my career today.

Irish ~ assisted me in learning German, the irony is that I can speak fluent German and hardly any Irish.
English ~ I use everyday in letters, e-mail etc,
Math ~ I use simple math everyday.
Accountancy ~ I use this everyday and also in conjunction with computers. Biology ~ assists in my better understanding of Food Safety etc.
Art ~ as much as I loved it I haven’t found a practical use for it in work.
Home Economics ~ it’s theory I use everyday but not the cooking and baking.

However, I do believe that nothing you learn is wasted, as it is either a stepping-stone to greater understanding, or of direct use.

 
  go to interview...
 
Insurance Administrator - Kevin Moran
Kevin Moran, InsuranceAs well as the mandatory Irish, English and Mathematics my leaving certificate subjects included French, Biology, Geography and Accounting.

This is a broad range of subjects covering everything from business to languages to science, this provided a broad base for me as it left a number of doors open for various university courses. 
  go to interview...
 
Speech and Language - Lisa Kelly
Lisa Kelly, Health Service ExecutiveFor my Leaving Cert I studied Biology, Chemistry, Economics and French along with the other core subjects. Biology and English had the most relevance to my future studies. 
  go to interview...
 
Pharmacist - Rachel Berry
Rachel Berry, Health Service Executive

For GCSE I studied Maths, Additional Maths, Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Geography, English Language and Literature and German.

For A-Level I took Maths, Chemistry and Biology. I chose these subjects primarily because I was good at them and also because I enjoyed them. The school I attended was very academic and I always knew my future career would involve science of some description so the choices I made were logical.

I do regret not continuing on with art, although at the time I wasn't sure I could spare the time to commit to an extra subject that wasn't really going to come in useful. I guess you just have to weigh up costs and benefits. I found it very helpful to have a good grasp of statistics and pure maths as these topics came up quite alot during the pharmacy degree.

If you are thinking of taking a degree in pharmacy make sure you look at the admission requirements in good time as they can be quite specific and I know the grades are increasing every year so you need to be sure you are capable of making the grades.

 
  go to interview...
 
Social Care Worker - Naoise Pye
Naoise Pye, St. Michael's House

I didn't know what I wanted to do when I left school so actually my choice of subjects only reflected my interests (Art, History, French and Classical Studies).

So if I were to do my Leaving cert again I might choose to do home-economics or biology to increase my medical knowledge as well as my cooking and domestic skills!

 
  go to interview...
 
 

Course Overview header image

Biology remains one of the most popular subject choices. The syllabus requires a lot of memory work.

If your chosen subject is biology you will gain an understanding of yourself 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.


Course Contentheader image

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.

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. An ecology portfolio must also 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.

Biology is often perceived as an easier subject than physics or chemistry but this is not so. There are high failure rates at ordinary level.


Exam Structure header image

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.


Career Possibilities header image

Biology is a great subject if you are considering nursing or medicine. Other careers where studying Biology at second level is useful include:

Veterinary, Dentistry, Agriculture, Applied Biology, Biochemistry, Biotechnology, Botany, Ecology, Earth Science and Environmental Science, Genetics, Marine Science and Aquaculture, Microbiology and Zoology, Psychologist, Astronomer, Teacher, Dietician and Researcher.



Career Guidance