Leaving Certificate

Core Subjects

All students study Maths, English and Irish (unless exempt from Irish). Students are assigned to appropriate levels in these subjects at the start of 5th year.

Teachers of Irish, English and Maths assign students to appropriate levels in these subjects based on Junior Cycle results and performance during Transition Year.

Optional Subjects

The table below lists the optional subjects available to students beginning the fifth year.

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.

They Can Select From Optional Subjects

  • Accounting

    Leaving Certificate accounting provides students with the knowledge, understanding and skills in accounting and financial management necessary for managing personal and basic company accounts. The learning experiences in accounting develop students’ organisational, logical thinking, planning and problem-solving skills for their future life, work and study. It also develops their numeracy skills within the context of business and enterprise. The syllabus is for students in the senior cycle of post-primary education and is assessed at Higher and Ordinary levels.

  • Art

    Welcome to the new Leaving Certificate Art specification. This specification is built around the artistic process and how it supports learning. Art is both creative and expressive and it provides an opportunity for the development of the skills necessary for creative engagement with the world. The specification sets out clear expectations for students, across three inter-related and inter-dependent strands: Research, Create and Respond. To access the online specification, guidelines, the current Leaving Certificate Art syllabus, which will end in 2021, circulars, and other notices.

  • Biology

    Biology is the study of life. Through the study of biology students 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 Leaving Certificate Biology syllabus is for students in the senior cycle of post-primary education and is assessed at Ordinary and Higher levels. The biology syllabus is currently under review.

  • Business

    Leaving Certificate business creates an awareness of the importance of business activity and develops a positive and ethical attitude towards enterprise. The learning experiences in business develop students’ critical thinking, creative and organisational skills while enhancing literacy and numeracy skills using real-life examples. Business provides students with a learning foundation for a wide range of careers in business, marketing, law, enterprise and management. This syllabus is for students in the senior cycle of post-primary education and is assessed at Ordinary and Higher levels.

  • Chemistry

    Leaving Certificate chemistry aims to provide a relevant course for students who will complete their study of chemistry at this level while, at the same time, providing a foundation course for those who will continue to study chemistry or a related subjects following completion of their Leaving Certificate. This syllabus is for students in the senior cycle of post-primary education and is assessed at Ordinary and Higher levels. Adjustments to the Leaving Certificate Chemistry Syllabus (Changes in September 2013) The Leaving Certificate chemistry syllabus has been adjusted as a result of a ban on substances that have been designated as Substances of Very High Concern by the European Chemicals Agency. The theoretical content of the syllabus is not being changed. Four of the mandatory experiments have been adjusted. Three are being adjusted to accommodate the removal of banned substances and one that did not require the use of a banned substance is being extended to ensure that the overall amount of practical work in the syllabus does not change. Note: These adjustments are effective from September 2013 for all students who will sit the Leaving Certificate Chemistry examination in 2015 and thereafter.

  • French

    Leaving Certificate French follows a common syllabus framework for the teaching and examining of modern languages in the Leaving Certificate. The syllabus aims to develop learners’ communicative skills in the French, to develop their strategies for effective language learning and raise their awareness of cultural, social and political diversity. Assessment is by means of a written examination, and an aural and oral examination at two levels, Ordinary level and Higher level.

  • Geography

    Leaving Certificate geography will help students develop an understanding of the changing relationships between the physical and human worlds. Through their study of geography, students will develop geographical skills that will help them to make informed judgements about issues at local, national and international levels. Leaving Certificate geography may be studied at Ordinary or Higher level. The course is divided into core, elective and optional units of study. Geography is assessed at Ordinary and Higher level. Students are expected to complete a report on a geographical investigation and to sit a written examination.

  • History

    Leaving Certificate history deals with the experience of human life in the past. The study of history involves an investigation of the surviving evidence relating to such experience. It brings students into contact with human experiences that are often very different from their own and fosters their developing understanding of the human condition and human motivation. Through its focus on the evaluation of evidence, it contributes significantly to the development of students’ skills of critical thinking. Through its focus on research, it allows students the opportunity to develop their skills of independent learning. Leaving Certificate history is assessed at two levels, Ordinary level and Higher level. There are two assessment components: a research study report (submitted prior to the examination) and a written examination.

  • Home Economics

    Leaving Certificate home economics provides students with knowledge, understanding, skills and attitudes necessary for managing their own lives, for further and higher education and work. The learning experiences in home economics develop flexibility and adaptability in students, prepare them for a consumer-oriented society and provide a learning foundation for a wide range of careers in food, textiles, science, design, social studies and tourism. This syllabus is for students in the senior cycle of post-primary education and is assessed at Higher and Ordinary levels.