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 in its own right, a way of “knowing” and a form of knowledge and it also encourages the cognitive processes used in other subject areas. It is an immensely useful subject. 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

Music is useful for media work or studies, primary teaching, sound engineering, public relations, library work, communications, production, performance and music at third level.

Note: Students are required to be able to read music to study this subject. Little knowledge of music theory or history is not a problem 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.

Make sure to research thoroughly the requirements of your preferred course.
However, this subject is not an essential requirement for any courses in the CAO system.

Exam Structure

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:

Listening Paper

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

Composition Paper

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


  • Examined in April of 6th year
  • Candidates may perform as a soloist or as part of a group or both

Higher Level

3 pieces on one instrument and one unprepared test OR 2 pieces on each of two instruments and one unprepared test.

Ordinary Level

2 pieces on one instrument and one unprepared test.
Electives for extra 25%.

(Higher level only) Each candidate must choose one of the above components to study for this extra credit. The majority tend to opt for a Performance elective.

Listening Elective: The candidate must work on a music project over the course of 5th and 6th year. They must submit some work to the State Examinations Commission and sit an extra written paper in June.

Composition Elective: The candidate must undertake a large scale composition to be submitted to the Examinations Commission in their final year.

Performance Elective: This involves a more substantial performance during the examination period in April of 6th year.


Students need not have studied musk 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.