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Subject Choice

Leaving Certificate

Computer Science

Career Zone
NFQ Level
2 Years


What Most School Don't Teach [IT] - What Most School Don't Teach [IT]
What Most School Don't Teach [IT] - What Most School Don't Teach [IT]

Computer Science is the study of computers and computer programming. The Leaving Certificate Computer Science course introduces students to problem-solving using programming and computational knowledge. The course develops an understanding of fundamental concepts of computer science and technology’s role in society. Through applied exercises, students will develop practical skills while working in teams to create functioning computer applications.

Computing technology now influences every part of society; it is key to our lives. The knowledge and skills learned will be valuable to the student regardless of whether they pursue a career in technology.

Why Study Computer Science

  • The course will teach skills which are highly in demand in the economy and will equip students to navigate the practical and ethical challenges of an increasingly technology-driven society.
  • If you want to pursue a career in tech fields such as software programming, data analytics or information technology, this course would likely be a useful step in that career path.
  • Students who don’t have a set career in mind should not dismiss the course, the skills and knowledge developed will be useful in all walks of life. Almost all career paths now involve working with technology in some way.

What kind of Student Would Computer Science suit?

  • The course will suit students who enjoy puzzling out and solving problems, logical thinking and creating functional objects or programs.
  • Students who did well in mathematics and science should find themselves suited to Computer Science. The program will build on the problem solving, analytical thinking and numerate skills developed in primary school and junior cert mathematics.
  • Due to the broad nature of the curriculum it is still possible for students who haven’t excelled in maths or science to engage positively with the Computer Science course. The curriculum encompasses a range of skills learned across junior cert subjects, such as effective communication, working with others, managing information, logic and thinking critically.
  • Computer Science has some features in common with language learning, including pattern recognition, syntax and textual analysis. However, they are not identical, with Computer Science focused on practical problem-solving skills, logical challenges and understanding of how computers function, which are distinct from what is learned in language classes.
  • Students who will gain the most are those who enjoy creating applications with computers. Examples include working with design software, programming languages, database software, video game creation programs or computer hardware.
  • More broadly, the course should benefit any students with strong interest in how computers work, solving problems in a logical way or the effect technology has on society.
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 students who sat the Higher Level Computer Science exam in 2019.

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


Explore Marks Distribution for all Subjects:

Course Overview

The Computer Science course covers a range of topics; the focus of the course is finding practical solutions to problems using computer science techniques such as automation, programming and computer systems. Students will learn how computer systems operate and what parts make a computer system, for example software (the code), hardware (the actual machines), data, communications and users.

Students will study the principles of computer science, the basic terms and concepts of programming, such as abstraction, logic, algorithms, computer systems, data representation and evaluation.

The ethical and social elements of technology will be studied, including how technology is changing personal life and society. As part of this, time will be spent learning the history of information technology and how it has changed the economy, education and society.

Course Content

Course Structure

The course is structured in three core strands,

  1. Practices and Principles: students will become knowledgeable in the principles and practices that underpin computer science.
  2. Core Concepts: students learn the major concepts of computer science, such as abstraction, data, computer systems and algorithms. Students will apply these concepts in the practical exercises that make up the third strand.
  3. Computer Science in Practice: students will engage in teamwork to carry out four practical tasks during the courses two-year duration. The tasks will cover four broad topic areas that are core to computer science.

1. Interactive information systems

2. Analytics

3. Modelling and simulation

4. Embedded systems


Learning Outcomes

At the close of the course, students will be assessed on their understanding of the following learning goals

  • The fundamentals of computer technologies and their potential applications.
  • Understanding how computers work and how they can be used to address problems and design solutions.
  • How to read, write, test and modify computer programs.
  • How computers work and how their component parts interrelate.
  • The ethical, social and environmental role of information technology, in today's world as well as the past and the future.
  • Ability to communicate effectively and work both independently and collaboratively.
  • Be a responsible, competent, confident, reflective and creative user of computing technology.

Exam Structure

As the course is still being formulated, it is not possible to say with certainty the content of the assessments, however the general structure is available to us.

Assessment of Leaving Certificate Computer Science will consist of

(A) An end of course computer-based examination, comprising a varied format assessing all aspects of the Computer Science course.

(B) Coursework - this will assess the ability of students in the elements of the course that cannot be assessed properly in an examination. It will involve the creation of an original computer application, combined with a report detailing the work involved in creating the application and how it functions.

The end of course examination will be worth 70% of the total mark, with the coursework assessment making up the remaining 30%.

Career Possibilities

Students will be graduating into a world influenced at every level by technology. The Computer Science course will have equipped them with skills and knowledge that will help them thrive in this world. The course aims to give them the learning habits and critical thinking outlook to adapt to rapidly changing technology.

The range of career opportunities is wide, including software developers, IT support and data analysts. Beyond this the skills learned will be transferable to a much broader range of career paths, the problem solving, logical thinking and programming skills developed in the course will be of value in many workplaces and activities.

Career Guidance

Subject Group: Science

These subjects demonstrate how to explore nature using carefully planned methods, and teach the basic methods and findings of scientific investigation.

Required for 3rd Level?

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

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