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Religious Education

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 2018:
Listed below are the percentage distributions of marks from the 1201 students who sat the Higher Level Religious Education exam in 2018.

Listed below are the percentage distributions of marks from the 107 students who sat the Ordinary Level Religious Education exam in 2018.

In brief... header image

Religious education in the Leaving Certificate programme calls for the exploration of issues such as meaning and value, the nature of morality, the development of diversity and belief, the principles of a just society, and the implications of scientific progress. It has a particular role to play in the curriculum in the promotion of tolerance and mutual understanding.


Why Study this?header image

Why Study Religious Education

It seeks to develop in students the skills needed to engage in meaningful dialogue with those of other or of no religious traditions.

The RE syllabus supports the development of the inquiry, thinking, and problem solving skills central to the Leaving Cert

What kind of student would Religious Education suit?

Religious Education suits the student with an enquiring mind.  A student who is interested in history, current affairs, travel and culture and debating the meaning of life.

Recommendations/Tips

This subject is not offered as an exam subject in every school - see Religious Education non-exam.


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Course Overview header image

The syllabus offers extensive choices and areas of study, e.g. christianity, world cultures, moral decision making, religion and gender, issues of justice and peace, religion and science, etc. 

It seeks to develop in students the skills needed to engage in meaningful dialogue with those of other or of no religious traditions.

Religious Education is a relatively new subject for the Leaving Cert. (It was first examined in 2005). Since then many students throughout the country have taken this option to build on their experience of Religious Education at Junior Cert, even though it is not necessary to have taken the exam at Junior Cert to succeed at Leaving Cert.

The RE syllabus supports the development of the inquiry, thinking and problem solving skills central to the Leaving Cert.

The course aims to explore issues such as meaning and value, the nature of morality, the development and diversity of belief, the principles of a just society, and the implications of scientific progress.

Students’ personal faith commitment and/or affiliation to a particular religious grouping are not subject to assessment.


Course Contentheader image

The subject consists of one core obligatory section, 'The Search for Meaning and Values' and a choice of two other core sections from a list of three:

  • Christianity: origins and contemporary expressions,
  • World Religions, and
  • Moral Decision Making.

There is one optional section also from a list of six which gives the students the opportunity to explore a topic of their own liking.

An exciting feature of this subject is the coursework element, which is like an extended essay on a topic supplied by the DES which accounts for 20% of the marks in the final exam. This means that in effect, students will have one fifth of the examination covered before they begin the Leaving Cert itself.


Exam Structure header image

The course consists of three units:

  1. Unit One
    The Search for Meaning and Values

  2. Unit Two - Any two of:
    Christianity: Origins and Contemporary Expressions World Religions Moral Decision Making

  3. Unit Three - Any one of:
    Religion and Gender Issues of Justice and Peace Worship, Prayer and Ritual The Bible: Literature and Sacred Text Religion: The Irish Experience Religion and Science

Assessment consists of two components

  • 1. Coursework
  • 2. Terminal written paper


Career Possibilities header image

Possible future courses/career areas: Arts, Law, Journalism, Education, Teaching, Theology, Philosophy, Religious Vocations, Social Work and Career Guidance among others.



Career Guidance