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 David Fleming from Defence Forces to give some advice for people considering this job:
Learn about the Naval Service – look at the website, visit a ship alongside a port when they are open to the public, talk to any friends/family in the Naval Service, ring the Recruiting Office.
What are your interests?
The Investigative person will usually find a particular area of science to be of interest. They are inclined toward intellectual and analytical activities and enjoy observation and theory. They may prefer thought to action, and enjoy the challenge of solving problems with sophiscticated technology. These types prefer mentally stimulating environments and often pay close attention to developments in their chosen field.
Subject Choice for Leaving Cert...
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.
Listed below are the percentage distributions of marks from the 1314 students who sat the Ordinary Level Physics exam in 2018.
Physics describes the laws and forces that govern natural phenomena. The subject aims to enhance students ability to think logically, to observe, to understand scientific method and to communicate effectively. It offers a general education in physics for all students. Science, Technology and Society (STS) is an integral part of the syllabus so that students can be aware of the principles of the applications of physics in the everyday world.
Why Study this?
Why Study Physics
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.
What kind of student would Physics suit?
Students who wonder why and ask how
Students who are interested in the following careers would be advised to study Physics: Electrician, Optician, Doctor, Dentist, Engineer, Computer Technician and Programmer.
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 capable at drawing and reading graphs and competent in using a calculator through 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.
For students who are interested in proceeding further with physics, check out our sector on Physical and Mathematical Sciences, and also the Institute of Physics, which provides information on the range of career options that students can follow after physics at third level.
Videos & Interviews
Studying Physics - Physics
Read what others say about their Leaving Cert. Subject Choices...
Science Entrepreneur - Brian Kelly
I did the following subjects for my Leaving Cert: Irish, English, Maths, French, Physics, Chemistry, Accounting and Applied Maths.
When choosing my subjects in 5th year in School I deliberately ensured that I did at least one business and one science subject because this gave me more flexibility in my choice of courses. I would recommend this strategy - particularly for those who aren't sure what they wish to study in college.
Physics and Maths were probably the two most helpful subjects I studied in school. Problem solving and analytical skills are essential in any engineering or science role and these subjects actively develop these strengths.
Irish, English, Maths, Accountancy, Biology, Physics, French, Social & Scientific.
As already stated, my initial goal was accountancy following the Leaving Cert. The accountancy covered by the Leaving Cert was very beneficial during my first year at college. However I don't believe I had the personality to become an accountant.
Moving to my later choice of Nursing, I believe that biology was essential as it is a major part of nursing studies from the start. I also believe that experience at work itself will further one's career and may in fact lead to a change further down the career pathway.
The subjects which I had control of choosing and which influenced my career path were:
Secondary School: Technical Graphics, Construction Studies, Engineering, Physics. These were an excellent base for my degree course in Mechanical Engineering in University.
University: Mechanical Engineering - choose fluids stream instead of solids stream half way through my degree course. In my current career, choosing the fluids stream has not had any significant bearing on my ability to perform my job.
If I had the choice in Secondary School, I would have chosen Spanish as a language to study. This allows a lot of extra opportunities to travel globally.
If I had the opportunity to change my choices in University, I would have done a years post grad in buisness studies and accounting after my degree in mechanical engineering. I belive this would have given me a competitive advantage in aspiring to a career in management.
My Leaving Cert subjects were Irish, English, Maths, French, Chemistry, Biology and Business Organisation. My main interest was science so I chose two science subjects and one business related subject to keep things interesting.
My subjects were appropriate for my University course except I was required to take Physics in the first year. This was quite challenging not having taken Physics to Leaving Cert but not impossible. I don't think I would do anything differently if I had to repeat the process.
We had no Physics, Chemistry and other technical subjects in the school I attended, which would have been useful for my career development. I did however have the opportunitiy to study Honours Maths in preparation for my current career.
In hindsight I would have looked for the opportunitiy to at least study Applied Maths, which would have made it easier to go through first year in college.
I am delighted I went to UCD, where it was possible to do one common year before choosing the Engineering discipline.
My advice if you're uncertain about choosing subjects is to choose things you're interested in, rather than what you think will be good for your career. A broad education will serve you really well not only in terms of college options, but also can enrich your life outside of school and work. I have a huge interest in astronomy and loved studying physics in school, and although I'd never have had the talent in Maths to study it at 3rd level or have a career in it, it meant I can really enjoy reading popular science books and keep up with what's going on in space exploration, as a hobby. For Leaving Certificate I studied English, Irish, Maths, Physics, Music, Biology, German and Classical Studies. Looking back, the subjects I did (specifically English, Music, Classics and German) meant that I was well-equipped with a lot of background knowledge that was helpful in my career as a singer, in terms of literature, language and musical training. Without having studied Music at 2nd level, with the wonderful teacher I had, I am 100% certain I wouldn't be a singer today.
The Leaving Cert Physics course follows directly from Junior Cert Science, and covers more topics in greater depth.
Physics is often referred to as the maths side of science, even though only a small proportion of the course is based on maths.
Physics aims to enhance the student’s ability to think logically, observe and understand scientific method.
The course is heavily based around experiments - students are required to complete and write reports of 24 practical experiments throughout the two years of Senior Cycle, and be fully aware of:
how to accurately record and analyse results
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 exam paper.
The Physics course also involves a lot of theory which is tested in 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 of physics in modern society and technology.
The study of Physics for Leaving Certificate is broken down into eight sections or topic areas:
(a) Six compulsory sections (b) Two option sections (Higher paper only, one to be done)
Optics / Waves: the study of light and sound and real life applications of the theory.
Mechanics: time, space, distance, speed and acceleration.
Heat: changes of state, energy conversions and mathematical problems.
Electricity: develops on from simple circuits to more detailed concepts.
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.
Atomic Physics: cathode rays, x-rays, radioactive decay, fission and fusion, nuclear reactors and real world applications.
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.
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 Leaving Certificate course.
The course also consists of 24 core mandatory experiments complementing each section in an aim to develop students’ technical skills and enhance understanding and reinforce key concepts.
The leaving cert exam is three hours in duration. A total of 400 marks are available for the exam.
Students must answer 3 out of 4 questions
120 marks: 40 marks per question
Questions are based on experimental procedures and use of results
Students must answer 5 out of 8 questions
280 marks: 56 marks per question
Questions are more broad and theory based
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.
Physics is a useful subject for many courses and career areas and a good foundation for a broad range of scientific and technical careers in particular.
Many careers benefit from the logical and numeracy skills developed in the study of physics. Many technical courses involve components of physics.
Students may move into employment or into further study following their two years of Physics at Senior Cycle. They may choose to progress to a Post Leaving Certificate course (PLC) or move on to a third level course.