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Subject Choice

Leaving Certificate


Career Zone
NFQ Level
2 Years


Latin was the official language of ancient Rome, and most modern European languages are at least partially derived from it. As a result, a knowledge of Latin can be very helpful as a basis for learning other languages. The Romans have had a massive influence on world history, and the course syllabus provides an opportunity to learn about their widespread influence on modern art and culture.

What kind of student would Latin Suit?

  • Students aiming to work in medicine, zoology or botany, where Latin is widely used to classify species and body parts.
  • Anyone with an interest in ancient Roman history and culture, and its influences on modern society.
  • Students who would like to gain a deeper understanding of the English language (as well as any other European languages they may be studying), particularly relating to etymology (word origins).
  • Students who enjoyed and got good grades in Junior Cert Latin are likely to continue enjoying the subject at Leaving Cert.
  • Students aspiring to work in Vatican City.


Latin is not offered by many schools as a core Leaving Cert subject choice, but that does not preclude any one from taking it outside school and sitting it at examination.

Some schools require all their Leaving Certificate students to take a language. If students have the option to choose whether or not to take a language, they should consider it seriously as it may determine the choices available to them when it comes to applying for college.

A third language is a requirement of a number of departments in colleges and universities. Always check the latest information on entry requirements fro individual collesges and courses.

This subject builds skills and knowledge that are particularly useful for careers in the following Career Sectors:

Grades Awarded

Marks Distribution 2019:

Listed below are the percentage distributions of marks from the 54 students who sat the Higher Level Latin exam in 2019.

Listed below are the percentage distributions of marks from the students who sat the Ordinary Level Latin exam in 2019.


Explore Marks Distribution for all Subjects:

Course Overview

Leaving Certificate Latin is mainly concerned with the study of the Latin language, the reading of a selection of Classical Latin authors and the study of Roman History, Art and Literature.

Leaving Certificate Latin may be taken at either higher or ordinary level. Assessment is by means of written examination at both levels.

As Latin is no longer a spoken language, the course focuses on written composition and comprehension of Latin texts. Poetry, historical records, and Roman legends are studied in detail, as well as Roman history (military and political), architecture, and culture. The language itself is very rigid and structured, making it less fluid than most other languages.

Course Content

Ordinary Level

A - Composition (i.e. sentences)
B - Formal Grammar (including scansion confined to the Elegiac Couplet
and the Hexameter).
C  - Prescribed Tests
Prescribed in a given year by the examining authority www.examinations.ie 

D  - Unprescribed Text:
Two passages from the works of the following authors*

Cicero (Orationes), Caesar, Livy, Virgil (Aeneid), Ovid

E  - History (including Art and Literature):
The period from the death of Caesar to the death of Trajan. Candidates will be expected to have studied Roman Art and Architecture within the prescribed period, under such headings as: patronage, portrait sculpture, murals, mosaics, historical reliefs, (e.g. the Ara Pacis and Trajan’s Column), the Roman house, roads, arches, bridges, aqueducts, basilicas, amphitheatres, public buildings, temples.

Questions will also be set on the life, works and literary importance of Latin authors from the prescribed historical period (including Caesar and Cicero) and, in addition, Catullus.

Candidates will be required to answer three questions and to choose at least
one from each section – (i) Roman History (ii) Roman Art and Literature.

*The list of authors given is an indication of the range of suitable material.

Four passages will be set on the ordinary level paper, two passages of prose and two of verse.
Candidates will be required to translate two of these four passages, one of prose and one of verse.
On the higher level paper candidates will be required to select three out of four passages set.

Vocabulary aid will be provided in the case of all unprescribed passages appearing on the examination papers.

Higher Level Course

A  - Composition (continuous prose).
B  - Formal Grammar (including scansion confined to the Elegiac Couplet, the
Hexameter, the Sapphic and the Alcaic).
C  - Prescribed texts:
Prescribed in a given year by the examining authority www.examinations.ie
D  - Unprescribed text:
Three passages from the works of the following authors:- Cicero (Orationes),
Caesar, Livy, Virgil (Aeneid), Ovid, Sallust, Horace (Odes), Catullus.
E  - History (including Art and Literature): As for Ordinary Level Course

Exam Structure

Exam Structure

Assessment is by means of a written examination at two levels, ordinary level and higher level.

Allocation of marks

Ordinary Level Course

Translation into Latin (5 sentences) 75
Prescribed text (prose or verse) translation  60
Subsidiary questions (3 ex 5)  30
Named authors (2 passages ex 4) 130

Grammar and Scansion:
Two questions on grammar 20
One question on scansion 10
History, Art and Literature: (3 questions ex 6) = (25 x 3) 75


Higher Level Course

Translation into Latin  75
Prescribed text (prose or verse) translation  60
Subsidiary questions (3 ex 5)   30
Named authors (3 passages ex 4)  130

Grammar and scansion:

Two questions on grammar     20
One question on scansion   10
History, Art and Literature: (3 questions ex 6) = (25 x 3)  75


N.B. – Candidates at both levels have the choice in Question 1 of the examination paper, of either

(a) translation into Latin, or

(b) answering a series of comprehension questions,

on a passage of unprescribed Latin prose. Each of the two sections will carry 75 marks.

Career Possibilities

Latin is a valuable foundation for students who are interested in careers with Languages or the study of Linguistics, Medicine, Zoology, Veterinary, Botany, History, Archaeology, Theology, Classics and Teaching among others.

Career Guidance

Subject Group: Humanities

These subjects explore the ways in which humans live and communicate in the world. Human life is examined by looking at our past, our present and into our future. These subjects help people to express themselves clearly and develop their reasoning ability.

Required for 3rd Level?

This subject can be used for language matriculation purposes for university entry.

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

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