Leaving Certificate

This programme is available to all students who have completed a Junior Certificate programme.

Students and parents will be advised by the Guidance Counsellors and by teaching staff on course selection and on choice of optional subjects on the Leaving Certificate programme.

All students will study the core subjects

  • Gaeilge

    Leaving Certificate Irish builds upon the language developed during Junior Cycle. All four language skills are further developed in order to enable the learner take an active part in the bilingual society in which we live in today in Ireland. The learner is encouraged to develop and share her/his views on a range of topics. The learner is also prepared during Senior Cycle for further study in or through Irish.

    Irish is assessed at three levels i.e. Foundation Level, Ordinary Level or Higher Level. The learner’s oral competency is assessed around Easter of the final year, in an oral examination worth 40%, at each level, of the overall mark, and the other three skills are assessed in June. Aspects of literary works must be studied at Ordinary Level while at Higher Level these same works and additional material must be studied in greater detail.

  • English

    Leaving Certificate English invites students into rich experiences with language so that they become fluent and thoughtful users of it and more aware of its significance in their lives. It develops a range of literacy and oral skills in a variety of areas, personal, social, and cultural. Students develop a wide range of skills and concepts. These will allow them to interpret and enjoy a range of material so that they become independent learners who can operate independently in the world beyond the school.

    Leaving Certificate English is assessed at two levels, Ordinary and Higher level.

  • Maths

    Mathematics at Senior Cycle builds on the learning at Junior Cycle and develops mathematical knowledge, skills and understanding needed for continuing education, life and work. Through their study of mathematics, students develop a flexible, disciplined way of thinking which enables them to solve problems in mathematical and real world contexts.

    The syllabus is provided at three levels – Higher, Ordinary and Foundation level and is also assessed at these levels. There are two examination papers at each level.

  • Religion

    Leaving Certificate religious education promotes tolerance and mutual understanding. It is a broad course which seeks to develop the skills needed to engage in meaningful dialogue with those of other or of no religious traditions.

    This syllabus is for students in the senior cycle of post-primary education and is assessed at Higher and Ordinary levels.

    A non-examination framework is also available for those students who do not wish to take Religious Education as a Leaving Certificate examination subject.

  • Physical Education

    Physical education in senior cycle aims to develop the learner’s capacity to participate in physical education and physical activity in a confident and informed way. As a result of their learning in physical education, young people can increase their enjoyment, confidence and competence in a range of physical activities.

    From September 2020, the new Framework will replace the existing guidelines set out in the Rules and Programmes for Secondary Schools. All senior cycle students must be provided with the opportunity to study Physical Education in some capacity.

    This may be through the Leaving Certificate Physical Education specification or the Senior Cycle Physical Education Framework, or both.

Students can choose from the following optional subjects:

  • Accounting

    What is Accounting?
    ● To contribute to a balanced and appropriate general education, leading to the personal and social development of each student together with a fostering of the concept of accountability
    ● To create awareness of the business environment and to provide each student with the knowledge, understanding and skills leading to a personal competence and responsible participation in this changing and challenging environment.
    ● To encourage the development of self-reliance, mental organisation and agility, clear and logical thinking, planning habits, methods of investigation and processes whereby accuracy can be ensured
    ● To enhance numeracy skills and promote awareness of the use of figures computations and statistics in the world of business and enterprise
    ● To expose students to aspects of business and enterprise with a view to career and working life, additional studies in accounting or as a basis for further education.

    Career Possibilities
    Accountancy provides a valuable foundation for all business functions and many top executives have an accountancy background. Accountancy is also a recognised qualification that can be used abroad.

    Third Level Entry Requirement
    Although not required for studying accountancy at third level, it is highly recommended if this is the sector you wish to pursue.  This subject is a requirement for entry into a number of third level courses.

    Subject Content
    Accounting is a business studies option within the Leaving Certificate programme. It covers aspects of business and social life which are not dealt with in any other subject in that programme. It is concerned with the preparation, recording, extraction, presentation and analysis of financial information for the purpose of making economic decisions. The course also involves a Management Accounting section where the student will learn how to analyse business costs and how to prepare budgets.

    Topics covered include:
    Financial Statements Preparation, Farm Accounts, Club Accounts, Company Accounts, Manufacturing Accounts, Financial Statements Analysis and Interpretation, Budgeting, Break-even Analysis, Cost Classification, Accounting Theory and Principles.

    Exam Structure
    The subject is examined at higher and ordinary level. Both levels involve one exam of three hours duration. The exam paper is made up of three sections, the first two are based on the Financial Accounting section of the course and the third covers the Management Accounting section. Questions must be answered from all sections of the exam paper.

    The course is numerically based but theory and procedures must be learned also. While the student needs to be comfortable with numbers he or she does not need to be at higher maths level.

    While the Junior Certificate Business Studies Course provides a foundation for this course, it is not essential and it is possible to take it up at senior cycle.

    This course offers a hard working student the real possibility of high grades because of the unambiguous nature of the questions.

    An organised student with a likeness for order will be particularly suited to this course.

  • Agricultural Science

    Agricultural Science is the study of the science and technology underlying the principles and practices of agriculture. It aims to develop knowledge, skills and attitudes concerning the factors that affect the long-term well-being of agricultural resources, and places emphasis on the managed use of these resources. It is steadily growing in popularity every year. It is recognised as a laboratory science subject for almost all 3rd level courses including nursing.

    It can be a good study to subject with Biology and/or Geography due to the overlap in course content. Some experience of farming would be desirable. Students do not need to live on a farm but all students must have access to both an animal and crop producing farm to complete the project.

    The Programme covers the following topics:

    • the rearing of animals
    • the growing of crops
    • soil types
    • genetics
    • ecology
    • animal and plant science

    Careers Possibilities
    Careers in this area include: Green keeping, Horticulture, Food Science, Agricultural Advisers, Sports Turf Management, Environmental Science, Forestry, Farming, Marine Science, Careers in Renewable Energy and Teaching.

    Third Level Entry Requirements
    This subject is not an essential requirement for any courses in the CAO system.

    Exam Structure
    The examination in Agricultural Science consist of (a) a terminal examination paper (75%) and (b) an assessment of the work of the candidate during the course under the headings: identification of plant and animal types associated with agriculture; practical experience with crops, livestock, house and farmyard layouts; investigations carried out related to ecology, soil science, animal physiology, plant physiology, genetics and microbiology.

  • Applied Mathematics

    Leaving Certificate applied mathematics is a syllabus based on mathematical physics. It is studied and assessed at Ordinary and Higher levels.

    The new specification which is available below will be introduced in schools in September 2021 for first examination in June 2023.

  • Art

    Senior Cycle Art
    By its nature, art is a language that gives ideas form. Through art, students will gain an awareness and understanding of a range of skills through a variety of different ideas, practices and media. They will learn to express themselves which strengthens their ability to communicate their ideas through their work.  Art deals with a range of complex problems and promotes creative and critical thinking. Studying Art gives the student the diverse knowledge, skills and values that enable them to make connections in their learning across other subjects at senior cycle.

    Art aims to develop in students the knowledge, skills, understanding and values needed to bring an idea to realisation and to respond to, understand, analyse and evaluate their own work and the work of others. Each student is a unique individual and will be enabled to develop their own skill set in a personal way. The student will become aware of the world of visual culture, how it can inform their own work.

    Course content
    The Art course for senior cycle contains both practical and written elements. The Leaving certificate Art Exam is divided into four Sections. Students will complete an exam sketchbook and two finished pieces of work (50%).In Addition to this, students sit a drawing exam (12.5%) and an Art History Exam (37.5%) in June. Any Student considering Art For senior cycle needs to have Completed art at Junior Cycle achieving a minimum grade C. The Coursework and art history elements require students with a strong work ethic due to the commitment and level of independent research required to complete the art project.

    Career possibilities
    Art is useful for Careers in animation, Architecture, product design, graphic design, Interior design, Game design, art teaching.

    Third Level Entry
    For most Third level art and design courses a portfolio is required, some colleges have set briefs for students to follow containing portfolio requirements for their courses. Students who wish to apply to art courses must do this directly through either the college or CAO. There are also several portfolio preparation courses offered through PLC colleges.

  • Biology

    Biology remains one of the most popular subject choice with 32,957 students sitting last year’s Leaving Cert. 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.

    What is Biology?
    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 aware of the use of living organisms and their products to enhance human health and the environment.

    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.

    What type of student might Biology suit?
    Students who enjoyed science in the Junior Certificate 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.

    Career Possibilities
    Biology is a science subject that forms a good base for hundreds of careers.

    Subject Requirement for 3rd Level?
    It is counted as a science subject in any course which has a science subject as a requirement.
    This subject is a requirement for entry into a number of third level courses. Examples include: Genetics in UCC and Human Health and Disease in TCD. It is advised for Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.


    • It is recommended that a student taking Leaving Certificate Biology has a good understanding of Junior Science.
    • 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.

  • Business

    What is Business?
    This is a practical and vocationally-oriented course that introduces students to the world of Business in a straightforward and logical way. It aims to create an awareness of the importance of Business activity and to develop a positive and ethical attitude towards it. The importance of people in Business is highlighted.

    The course sets out to illustrate the process of setting up a business and developing a new product or service. It emphasises the importance of good management and deals with skills and activities necessary for good management practice. It also deals with the impact of technology, foreign trade, global firms and competition and with business structures and the national economy.

    Business requires students to stay alert and aware of the current related business media (newspapers, TV, radio) The course is theory based and therefore requires a lot of learning.

    Career Possibilities
    Business is useful for careers in areas such as Banking, Administration, Insurance, Management and Marketing.

    Third Level Entry Requirements
    This subject is not a requirement for business courses nor is it an essential requirement for any courses in the CAO system.

    However, this subject is of benefit to anyone who studies it for the Leaving Cert. whether or not a career in business is what they desire.


    • The subject is suited to students who are willing to work hard and caters for all abilities.
    • It is not necessary for students to have studied Junior Certificate Business Studies, but this would be a help.
    • The course content is factual and requires a lot of learning, containing only a few mathematical elements.
    • Ideally, students would have an interest in business and current affairs and would have an up to date knowledge of economic environment.
    • An organized and consistent attitude to homework and study would be essential in this subject.

  • Chemistry

    What is Chemistry?
    The Leaving Cert. course follows directly from Junior Cert Science, and deals with more topics in a lot more depth. The course includes 28 mandatory practical experiments which must be completed in the lab, as well as a written paper including questions on the experiments and examining the theory and applications of chemistry. Chemistry has been the second most popular science subject for some time now, with high levels of achievement.

    Why do Chemistry?
    Chemistry exists everywhere not just in laboratories but in every living thing on land and sea and in our bodies. It is often described as ‘the central science’ containing a lot of formulas. So, if you enjoyed Junior Cert Science and you have done well in this and Maths you should be a good candidate for Leaving Cert Chemistry. Chemistry is an essential element in the study of careers including: Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary Science, Physiotherapy, Nursing, Pharmacy and Medical Laboratory Technology. The following video will give you a good overview of what the study of chemistry for Leaving Cert is all about and how it might tie in with your future career.

    What kind of student might Chemistry suit?

    • Students considering a career in any scientific discipline, such as chemistry, biology, environmental science, medicine, pharmacology, or material science.
    • Students who were successful in Junior Cert. Science, particularly in the chemistry section.

    Career Possibilities
    Chemistry is considered most useful for careers in Pharmacy, Ag Science, Medicine, Engineering, General Sciences and Biotechnology.

    Third Level Entry Requirements
    This subject is a requirement for entry into a number of third level courses. Examples include: Dentistry and Medicine and Pharmacy in UCC, Pharmacy TCD, Human Nutrition and Dietetics in DIT.

    While Chemistry might not be an entry requirement for all of the following courses in every third level college (it is in some – see above link) it is highly desirable for the study of the following 3rd level courses.

    • Veterinary Medicine
    • Pharmacy
    • Medicine
    • Dentistry
    • Human Nutrition
    • Biomedical Sciences

    Subject Content
    Leaving Cert. Chemistry is comprised of all the essential and relevant topics within general chemistry. The major topics involved include the following:

    • Atomic structure
    • Volumetric analysis
    • Organic chemistry
    • Water chemistry
    • Reaction mechanisms

    There also is an option to be taken as part of the course which involves the study of atmospheric and industrial chemistry or the study of materials and electrochemistry.

    Experimental investigations are an essential part of the leaving certificate course. Each student must complete at least 28 experiments over the duration of the course.

    Experimental work is examined as part of the leaving cert exam and forms the basis for a minimum of three questions on the exam paper.

    Exam Structure
    The leaving cert exam is three hours in duration. Each candidate must answer at least two questions from Section A (experimental section) and a minimum of six questions from Section B.

    There are eleven questions in total on the exam paper, each carrying fifty marks.

    There is no element of continuous assessment but experimental copies must be available for inspection by the State Examinations Commission. Students taking chemistry have to memorize the chemical components of a series of prescribed experiments. They will need to present the elements of four such experiments in their exam.


    • It is recommended that a student undertaking the course has a good understanding of Junior Cert Science at the higher level.
    • Each student should have an aptitude and interest for laboratory work.
    • A student would be expected to have a reasonable level of Junior Cert Maths, either at higher or ordinary level.

  • Construction Studies

    Subject Overview
    Construction Studies introduces students to the knowledge and skills associated with construction technology and construction materials and practices. This is achieved through theoretical study and integrated practical projects which provide a basis for the thorough exploration of materials and processes

    Part I – Construction Theory and Drawing

    ●      Planning and Design
    ●      Drawings and Documents
    ●      Site Preliminaries and Foundations
    ●      Walls, Partitions
    ●      Floors, Roofs
    ●      Fireplaces
    ●      Windows and Doors
    ●      Stairs
    ●      Plastering and Painting
    ●      Plumbing and Heating
    ●      Services Drainage
    ●      Sustainable development
    ●      Construction & Environment

    Part II – Practical Skills

    • Tools
    • Processes

    Part III – Course Work and Projects

    •  Workshop/laboratory experiments
    • Student projects

    Section A:   Three hour written paper worth 300 marks (50%). The exam consists of 10 questions out of which five have to be attempted. Question 1 is a compulsory drawing question of a building detail.

    Section B:   4-hour practical woodwork exam where the student makes a small item out of timber under exam conditions. The exam normally takes place in May. This accounts for 150 marks (25%).

    Section C:   Building Project where the student makes a building detail, a scale model of a building or a craft piece. The student also produces a portfolio to accompany the project that they make. Ideally this project must be completed by Christmas. This accounts for 150 marks (25%).

    Career Opportunities

    •     Architecture
    •     Construction Management
    •     Building services engineer
    •     Building surveyor
    •     Construction manager
    •     Estates manager
    •     Quantity surveyor
    •     Site engineer
    •     Sustainability consultant
    •     Teaching
    •     Various apprenticeships
    •    And many more…

  • Design and Communication Graphics (DCG)

    Design and Communication Graphics (DCG) has taken the place of technical drawing for the Leaving Certificate and provides students with the opportunity for visualizing and comprehending information presented verbally or graphically.

    Problem solving and creative thinking skills are developed through the analysis and solution of both 2- and 3-dimensional graphics. Graphics and design are communicated using freehand sketching skills, traditional draughting equipment and CAD.

    If you are interested in taking this subject to Leaving Certificate level you will have taken Tech Graphics to Junior Certificate level. There is a great emphasis in the Leaving Certificate course on comprehension, analysis and problem solving. In simple terms you must be able to understand what has to be done, analyse how you are going to approach it and then proceed to solve the problem. Although it is not an essential subject for either architecture or engineering it is regarded as a useful asset if you are thinking of a technical course. This course now has a project aspect.

    Career Possibilities
    DCG is a core element of many 3rd level options including Engineering, Construction and Architecture and knowledge of this subject will greatly enhance a student’s ability in any 3rd level engineering based programme. All apprenticeships include the study of detailed technical drawings.

    Third Level Entry Requirements
    This subject is not an essential requirement for any courses in the CAO system.

    Subject Content
    Consists of a core section comprised of (a) plane and solid geometry and (b) communication computer graphics. There is also an options section of applied graphics, two options are to be taken.

    Exam Structure
    One Terminal Exam Paper 60%
    Student Assignment 40%

    It is an advantage to have studied Technical Graphics at Junior Cert. level.

    Free-hand sketching is a main component of the core therefore Junior Cert art, materials technology wood and/or technology would serve as an advantage in this area.

    A basic knowledge of ICT skills is also beneficial.

    Students must also appreciate that work completed must conform to a high standard of neatness and draftsmanship.

  • Economics

    What is Economics?
    Economics is regarded as the most practical business subject and is the study of how people manage limited resources such as money to meet their goals. By understanding the reasons why people spend their money in certain ways, economists can try to introduce incentives to their change their behaviours. As a discipline, Economics is divided into two broad categories:

    1. 1. Microeconomics considers how individual people decide what goods they are willing to buy or not buy based on maximising their personal ‘utility’ (getting as much benefit as possible from their money), and how firms and businesses will try to take advantage of consumers’ habits to maximise profit. It also examines how multiple businesses in a market will price their goods based on their competitors and their various costs.
    2. 2. Macroeconomics then considers how governments handle the economy as a whole, and how they select policies which meet their goals, such as stable economic growth (avoiding recessions), minimising the national debt, and encouraging employment. How the government handles issues such as fiscal policy (how much money flows in the economy), international trade, and banking all have implications for economics stability and growth.

    What kind of student might Economics suit?
    ● Anyone considering a future career in any area of business, journalism or finance.
    ● Students who enjoyed Junior Cert Business.
    ● Students who take an interest in politics, current affairs, or psychology.

    Career Possibilities
    All Business courses require an Economics content so having this subject is an advantage and is useful for careers in Banking, Insurance, Finance and Marketing.

    Third Level Entry Requirements
    This subject is not an essential requirement for any courses in the CAO system.

    This subject is suited to students who are willing to work hard and caters for all abilities.
    It is not necessary for students to have studied Junior Certificate Business Studies, but this would be a help.

    Ideally, students should have a general interest in how the economy works.

  • French

    What is French?
    French as a Leaving Cert subject aims to bring students closer to fluency in the French language, as well as developing a good knowledge of literature, culture, geography, and national history to provide a context for communication. It builds on the knowledge acquired for the Junior certificate.

    What kind of student might French suit?
    ● Students with an aptitude for the language and who have enjoyed the programme in Junior Cert
    ● Students with an interest in French culture, history and language
    ● Students who may need a foreign language for college studies.
    ● Students who are considering working abroad in the future.
    ● Students from a French background.

    Career Possibilities
    Specific careers in which French would be of benefit include teaching, translation, interpreting, journalism, business, culinary arts and media. It is worth noting that with Brexit impending, France will be our nearest European neighbour, possibly leading to extended trade between the countries. Because of this and the long standing links between both countries Ireland has recently signed up to the International Organisation of French speaking nations.

    Many multinational companies use French as a working language and it is an official language of international organisations like the UN, the EU, the Red Cross and the International Olympic Committee to name but a few.

    Exam Structure
    The emphasis in Leaving Cert French moves from comprehension to productive French. Students will be expected to produce their own passages of French. This may prove challenging to those whose grammar is very poor and who struggle to put even basic sentences together.

    Mark Allocation for L.C. French

    Section  Higher Level Ordinary Level
    Speaking 25% 20%
    Listening Comprehension 20% 25%
    Reading Comprehension 30% 40%
    Writing 25% 15%

    ● It is very important for students to familiarize themselves with the college courses that require a third language. Information regarding this is available on the Qualifax website. We have had students in the past who have had to take up French in Leaving Cert year when they realised that they needed a foreign language.
    ● There are a large number of courses that do not require French but students need to do some research before they make a decision.
    ● Students need to work hard on their oral communication from the beginning of the Leaving Cert course. In St Pat’s extra oral classes are put in place in Leaving Cert year but oral proficiency has to be worked at over the two years of the programme.
    ● Students who have shown an aptitude in French at Junior Certificate Level are encouraged to continue with it in Leaving Cert.

  • Geography

    What is Geography?
    Geography is the study of people, their environment, and the interaction between the two. The course follows from Junior Cert Geography, and covers very similar topics (such as rocks, soils, oceans, population movements, map-reading, and economic activities) in a lot more detail. There are a large number of optional sections on the course, allowing students to focus on the sections of the course which they like.

    What kind of student might Geography suit?
    ● Students considering further study in areas such as geography, economics, environmental science, or politics.
    ● Students who achieved solid results for Junior Cert Geography can expect much of the same for the Leaving Cert course.

    Career Possibilities
    Geography is a useful subject for careers in town planning, surveying, environmental assessment and weather forecasting.

    Third Level Entry Requirements
    This subject is not an essential requirement for any courses in the CAO system. However, it is worth noting that TCD accepts geography as a science subject for entry into both science and pharmacy faculty.

    Exam Structure
    Leaving Certificate Geography is assessed at Ordinary and Higher level in ascending order of difficulty. There are two assessment components:
    1. Written Examination (80%)
    2. Geographical Investigation Report (20%)
    Students complete two questions on the core units, one question on an elective unit, and one question on an optional unit.

  • History

    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.

    What is History?
    History is the academic discipline that seeks to reconstruct and interpret the human past. It seeks to explain both how and why significant events occurred. It is often studied out of personal interest, but it also develops important skills such as problem solving and critical thinking which are of life-long importance.

    It is crucial when studying history to pay attention to the evidence presented, and be alert to the presence of bias and propaganda. Students are encouraged to consider the merits of different interpretations of the evidence in order to teach a more balanced and grounded conclusions.

    The course is quite large and requires constant attention throughout the year. Research skills such as drawing on a wide variety of sources of evidence (such as maps, public records, political cartoons, and memoirs) are developed throughout the course. When writing, students are taught to produce clear, comprehensive and coherent arguments.

    Note that Leaving Cert History is completely different from the Junior Cert course!

    What kind of student might History suit?
    ● Students who enjoy and appreciate history, and would like to deepen their knowledge of it.
    ● Students who are willing to commit the necessary time; History is a demanding subject.
    ● Students who have strong English language skills, and are able to write coherent essays.
    ● Students aiming to improve their research skills and develop their capacity to analyse, deduce and problem solve.

    Career Possibilities
    History develops an ability to think independently and employers tend to look for people who are broad-minded, clear thinking and independent people. History can be an excellent preparation for careers in journalism, the legal profession the Arts, tourism, government and teaching.

    Third Level Entry Requirements
    This subject is not an essential requirement for any courses in the CAO system.

    When considering history as a Leaving Certificate subject students should note the following:
    ● An interest in the subject is vital; some students choose it on the basis that they like nothing else on the Subject Line.
    ● A good knowledge of English, an ability to write and an interest in current affairs is important.
    ● Self-discipline is an essential ingredient as students must show initiative in researching material, not merely for the research topic, but also to augment their knowledge of the course in general.
    ● Choosing it on the basis that it was an easy subject for the Junior Certificate has absolutely no basis of truth, they are two completely separate courses. Leaving Certificate history is demanding and some students find out too late to their cost that they cannot cope and drop out.
    ● If history is a subject that you like and you have the ability, discipline and work ethic to do well in it, but is not related to the course you want to pursue at Third Level, you could consider doing it on the basis that it will get you the required points to get the Third Level course that you want.

  • Leaving Certificate PE

    The aim of Leaving Certificate Physical Education is to develop the learner’s capacity to become an informed, skilled, self-directed and reflective performer in physical education and physical activity in senior cycle and in their future life. 

    Leaving Certificate Physical Education Guidelines For Assessment

    Physical Activity Project

    Performance Assessment

    For the current cohort studying LCPE please note that on page 44 of the PDF specification, training may be aerobic and/or anaerobic.

  • Music

    The Leaving Certificate Music syllabus provides continuity and progression from Junior Certificate Music. The general aims and overall shape of both is broadly similar. In providing the musical knowledge, understanding, practical competencies and attitudes appropriate to their age, abilities and interests, the syllabus caters for the varying needs of all students including those who wish to pursue further studies in music.

    Music is a universal language and in its own right, a way of “knowing”. As form of knowledge it encourages the development of many of the cognitive processes used in other subject areas. It is an immensely useful subject and the syllabus continues to emphasise the integration of the three activity areas introduced at Junior Certificate level i.e. performing, listening and composing.

    The syllabus structure has been adopted to provide a fully balanced musical experience central to which is the development of musicality. Studying music at Leaving Cert. provides a vital basis for further education in the area.

    Career Possibilities
    A music education and working knowledge of music theory proves useful for careers related to media, primary teaching, early childhood education, psychology, sound engineering, public relations, library work, communications, theatre, production, performance and other areas of study at third level.

    Please Note: Students who did not complete Junior Cycle music are accommodated where possible but students are required to be able to read music to study this subject. Little knowledge of music theory or history is permissible but a working knowledge of a musical instrument (piano, guitar, voice etc.) is essential.

    Third Level Entry Requirements
    For most music courses, your Leaving Cert results are not the only factor considered for entry. Different colleges have their own requirements. For example: to study Music in UCD an entrance test is given to all candidates and in NUIM applicants must sit an entrance exam, an interview and an audition. To be included in any of the audition processes you must indicate the course choice on the first CAO application. These assessment take place in April of 6th year.

    Make sure to research thoroughly the requirements of your preferred course as early as possible. The audition process is relevant to leaving Cert students’ level of study and sample tests are sent out to candidates with their audition information.

    Exam Structure – Modes of Assessment

    Aural Exam 25%
    Composition Exam 25%
    Practical Exam 50%


    Listening Paper
    Examined in June of 6th year
    90 minutes duration
    Four set works, Irish music and general listening skills.

    It is important to note that each of the prescribed set works is examined on the aural paper alongside Irish Music and Aural Skills.

    Composition Paper
    Examined in June of 6th year
    90 minutes duration
    Melody writing and harmony

    Examined in March/April of 6th year
    Candidates may perform as a soloist or as part of a group or both and can opt to complete a music technology component in their exam.

    Standard of performance must reflect five years classroom based tuition. Students in our school complete the performing elective at higher level.

    Higher Level Performing Elective: three options
    ● 4 pieces on one instrument, music technology and one unprepared test
    ● 6 pieces on one instrument and one unprepared test
    ● 4 pieces on one instruments, 4 on another instrument and one unprepared test.

    Ordinary Level: two options
    ● 2 pieces on one instrument and one unprepared test.
    ● Music Technology

    The music room is an exceptional learning and teaching space. Students have access to a technology lab with 15 computers, a grand piano, a full drum kit, multiple guitars and many other instruments. Class sizes do not exceed 24 students and students are offered many opportunities to develop their musicality and performance skills. Teachers in the music department are available to guide students in preparation for their practical exams and facilitate the provision of technology tuition for all students.

    Students need not have studied music at Junior Level; however, they should have attained a competency in their practical musical ability. Because of the practical nature of this subject, students and/or parents should discuss this with the senior level music teacher before choosing it as a Leaving Certificate subject.

  • Physics

    What is Physics?
    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 this.

    Physics aims to enhance 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, and be fully aware of how to accurately record and analyse results, and 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 paper.

    Interested in Physics?
    The Physics course also involves a lot of theory which is tested on 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.

    What type of student might Physics suit?
    ● Students considering a career in any mathematical or scientific discipline, such as finance, statistics, engineering, physics, astronomy or computer science.
    ● Students who were successful in their Junior Cert science examination, particularly in the Physics section of the course.

    Careers Possibilities
    Students who are interested in the following careers would be advised to study Physics: Electrician, Optician, Doctor, Dentist, Engineer, Computer Technician and Programmer.

    Third Level Entry Requirements
    Physics is a requirement for entry into a number of third level courses. Some examples include: Theoretical Physics in UCD and TCD. Click on the link below to view courses that definitely requires, or may require this subject for entry:

    Physics and Careers
    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.

    Physics is a useful subject for many courses and careers and a good foundation for a broad range of scientific and technical careers. Many careers benefit from the logical and numeracy skills developed by 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 secondary school level. They may choose a Post Leaving Certificate course (PLC) or move on into third level.

    Physics and physics-related courses may be taken at both certificate and degree level in third-level institutions.

    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 careers that students can follow after their study of physics at third level.

    Subject Exam Structure
    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.

    The Leaving Cert. Physics exam is three hours in duration:

    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 able to draw and read graphs and be competent in using a calculator throughout 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.

  • Religious Education (Exam)

    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.

    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.

    The Subject
    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 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 in effect that students will have one fifth of the examination covered before they begin the Leaving Cert itself.
    The RE syllabus supports the development of the inquiry, thinking, and problem solving skills central to the Leaving Cert

    Third Level Entry Requirements
    This subject is not an essential requirement for any courses in the CAO system.

    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.

    Assessment consists of two components
    ● Coursework
    ● Terminal written paper
    Students’ personal faith commitment and/or affiliation to a particular religious grouping will not be subject to assessment. Possible future courses/careers: Arts, Law, Journalism, Education, Social Work

  • Spanish

    What is Spanish?
    Spanish as a subject at Leaving Cert aims to immerse students into the Spanish language, bringing them one step closer to fluency as well as developing their knowledge of Hispano-culture, geography, and history to provide a context for communication. The lessons are delivered through various mediums and students are exposed to up to date and relevant material. The Leaving Certificate course builds on the knowledge acquired from the Junior certificate.

    What kind of student might Spanish suit?
    ● Anyone who has a love of language and is intrigued by Spanish/ Hispanic culture and history.
    ● Students with an interest in travelling or working in the future to Spain, The US, Central and South America to mention a few. They would find Spanish very practical.
    ● Students who are studying Latin and want to pursue studying another language as they share common threads.
    ● Students who can already speak Spanish and want easy points.

    Career Possibilities
    There are abundant careers in which Spanish would be of benefit including: Secondary teaching, University Lecturer, English as a foreign language teacher in a Spanish speaking country, translation, interpreting, medical healthcare professional, working for the UN or WHO, international aid/ development worker, business entrepreneur, law, marketing, insurance, journalism and media, engineering etc.

    Exam Structure
    Mark Allocation for L.C. Spanish

    Section Higher Level Ordinary Level
    Speaking 25% 20%
    Listening Comprehension 20% 25%
    Reading Comprehension 30% 40%
    Writing 25% 15%

    Leaving Certificate Exam Tips
    ● The key to doing well is practice and individuality. The more essays you write on various topics and the comprehensions you read the easier it becomes.
    ● Try to get your hands on as many past mock comprehensions as well as doing all the past papers so you are well trained in the format and question types as well as the timing.
    ● After each comprehension make sure it is correct using the marking scheme.
    ● Listening to mock aurals which can be found online along with their transcripts is of a huge benefit to training your ear to recognise certain words.
    ● When preparing for the aural exam, write out answers to common questions, learn these answers and practise saying them aloud so it comes across as natural as possible.
    ● Students who enjoy listening to music can find a wide range of Spanish/ Hispano artists on Spotify, iTunes and YouTube. This is great to develop listening skills as well as promoting confidence and pronunciation when you begin to know the lyrics and sing them aloud.
    ● In relation to the oral, nothing can beat speaking the language with native speakers and visiting a country that speak Spanish. If you ever have this opportunity, take it. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. The important thing is to build your confidence, practice and your overall spoken Spanish will improve.
    ● Some students find it helpful to record themselves on an audio device and play it back.
    ● Any vocabulary you don’t understand should be noted and learned as you will most likely see it again or you will be able to use it in your written work.
    ● You should be able to express yourself and talk about different topics so a rich vocabulary is key.
    ● To achieve this, it is recommended that you watch programs or movies that you are interested in, in Spanish or with Spanish subtitles. When you come across a new word/ verb or expression write it into a notebook dedicated to your extra independent learning. Choose five to learn before you got to bed on a regular basis. Most DVDs will have this feature. Netflix and YouTube are also good resources.
    ● Also having an interest and watching Spanish foreign film is a bonus.
    ● An extensive knowledge of the different tenses will be needed for all aspects of the Spanish exam. Creating durable flashcards with verbs and their various conjugations will be of great use as a revision tool. You can also test yourself at any time while at home, travelling or indeed use in a country where Spanish is spoken.

    ● It is highly advisable that students spend some time in a country where the target language is spoken.
    ● Students who have shown an aptitude in Spanish at Junior Certificate Level are encouraged to continue with it in Leaving Cert.


Subject Video Presentations