Core subjects

Irish: 60% Exam, 40% Oral

English: 100% Exam

Maths: 100% Exam

French (Higher Level): Oral 25%, Listening 20%, Reading 30%, Writing 25%.

French (Ordinary Level): Oral 20%, Listening 25%, Reading 40%, Writing 15%

German (Higher Level): Oral 25%, Listening 20%, Reading 30%, Writing 25%

German (Ordinary Level): Oral 20%, Listening 25%, Reading 40%, Writing 15%


Option subjects

Accounting, Art, Biology, Business, Chemistry, Computer Science, Construction Studies, Design & Communication Graphics, Economics, Geography, History, Music, Physical Education and Physics.

Note: Applied Maths is offered as an extra subject outside normal school hours.

In Senior Cycle students study 7 subjects, 4 core and 3 option subjects.


Additional subjects

Physical Education and Religion.




100% Exam

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.

Commonly seen as the mathematical side of business, accounting attracts the more numerate student. It teaches students the bookkeeping side of business but delves deeper, teaching you to analyse and interpret the figures. Once you can understand and adhere to the basic rules of accountancy, it is a subject that you can do very well in.

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.

Applied Maths

80% Exam, 20% Project

Applied Maths is the study of the practical applications of mathematics to the real world and physical problems. It is typically associated with engineering and physics, but also finds use in economics, finance, business, environmental studies, and even chemistry and medicine.

It suits students who are studying Leaving Cert higher level Maths. Applied Maths also helps students studying physics, due to some overlap in the course content. 

The course essentially covers the mathematics behind the behaviour of objects when placed in various situations, such as being thrown as projectiles, bounced off walls or other objects, immersed in fluids, or swung around on a rope. There are 10 questions on the exam paper, each covering one of these topics in detail. However, the exam only requires the student to complete six questions, so it is not uncommon for teachers to focus on six or seven topics, which makes the course and workload more manageable. The course tends to avoid theory-heavy questions (such as proofs and manipulating formulae) which are found on the Mathematics paper, instead offering practical problems with numerical solutions, such as computing the volume of fluid in a container, or finding the optimal angle to throw a projectile at so that it will travel as far as possible. As a result, Applied Maths is excellent for developing strong problem solving skills, which are very valuable for future employment.


37.5% Exam, 50% Coursework, 12.5% Life Drawing

The Art course for Leaving Cert is about developing the student’s ability in a range of artistic fields and disciplines. Studying art, as the title suggests, allows students to be creative and explore their desire for self-expression and develop an appreciation for artistic work of others, including the work of famous artists and the history of art.
Art suits students who enjoy expressing themselves through art and like to sketch and doodle and who are prepared to work hard at developing their artistic talent.

All students, both ordinary and higher level, follow a common course. The practical work can include Life Sketching, Still Life, Imaginative Composition, Design and Craftwork. The History of Art and Appreciation is a broad course covering Irish and European Art, and also Art Appreciation. It requires looking at artworks through the use of reproductions, slides and art galleries, reading books and writing essays on different subjects.

Art is examined in three ways:

  1. Still Life and Imaginative Composition Coursework – completed between Feb – April of 6th         year. This is worth 50% of marks
  2. Life Drawing – examined in May of 6th Year, worth 12.5%
  3. History of Art and Appreciation – examined in June of 6th Year, worth 37.5%


100% Exam

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 more aware of the use of living organisms and their products to enhance human health and the environment. The course uses practical activity and investigation to develop 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.

Biology suits students who enjoyed science for Junior Cycle 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. The course is divided into three units. Unit 1, the study of life (ecology and food science), unit 2, the cell (genetics, photosynthesis, respiration and enzymes), unit 3, the organism (a study of body systems, plant biology and microbiology). There are 22 mandatory practical activities. Three of these are examined each year, two of which have to be answered. A laboratory record of these activities has to be kept and available for inspection by The Department of Education. An ecology portfolio must also be completed.


100% Exam 

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. Business will suit a candidate who is interested in current affairs and listens to the news, reads the papers and stays alert to what is happening in the general business world. While there is a fair share of learning of key concepts the ability to apply these concepts in everyday life will be the difference between passing the subject and getting a good mark.

There are 7 core units covering the following topics: Introduction to people in business; Enterprise; Managing 1 & 2; Business in action; Domestic Environment and International Environment. 


100% Exam

Chemistry exists everywhere, not just in laboratories, but in every living thing on land and sea and in our bodies. Chemistry is often described as ‘the central science’ containing a lot of formulas. So, if you enjoyed Junior Cycle Science and have done well in it, and in Maths, you should be a good candidate for Leaving Cert Chemistry. It suits students who apply attention to detail and are able to describe the procedures of experiments and understand vocabulary. There is an amount of calculations involved.

The syllabus consists of approximately 70% pure chemistry; the remaining 30% deals with the social and applied aspects of chemistry. The major topics involved include the following: atomic structure, volumetric analysis, organic chemistry, water chemistry and reaction mechanisms. 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.

Computer Science

70% Computer Based Assessment, 30% Project

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. Students will learn: the practices and principles of computer science, such as computational thinking, computers and society, and creative design; how to analyse problems in computational terms and understand concepts such as abstraction, logic, algorithms, computer systems, data representation and evaluation; programming languages and how to read, write, test and modify computer programs; the process of designing computational artefacts such as web pages, digital animations, simulations, games, apps and robotic systems; the ethical, historical, environmental and technological aspects of computer science, and how it impacts the social and economic development of society.

Computer Science 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.

Construction Studies 

50% Exam, 25% Practical, 25% Project

Leaving Certificate Construction Studies provides students in the senior cycle of post-primary education with an introduction to the knowledge and skills involved in construction technology and construction materials and processes. This practical subject gives students hands-on experience working with tools and machinery. Students also undertake theoretical and background work for their final examinations which provides the students with useful skills for working in the sector. 

Construction suits a student that has a general interest in buildings and the built environment. Each student should have an aptitude for, and an interest in design and practical work.

The theoretical part of the course examines all parts of building from the planning stages to the completed building. The course is studied under the following main headings: 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 and Services Drainage. 

Design and Communication Graphics 

60% Exam, 40% Project

This subject develops students’ comprehension ability, and 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. DCG provides students with the opportunity for visualising and comprehending information presented verbally or graphically. 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

Students must have studied Junior Cycle Graphics in order to study DCG. Students must also appreciate that work completed must conform to a high standard of neatness and draftsmanship.


80% Exam, 20% Project

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 change their behaviours. Leaving Certificate economics provides students with the knowledge and skills necessary for understanding how the Irish and global economy functions. The learning experiences in economics develop students’ critical thinking, problem solving, decision-making and numeracy skills. Economics provides students with a learning foundation for a wide range of careers in business, economics, finance, enterprise and management. Economics deals with the real world business obstacles such as demand and supply, production and consumption, money and banking as well as economic policies, problems and conflicts.  With inflation and international trade and payments constantly making headlines, economics requires its students to keep track of real world situations.

This subject is suited to students who are willing to work hard. Ideally, students should have a general interest in how the economy works and be interested in current affairs.  It would be important to be listening to the news and reading the daily papers.

There are two assessment components: written examination (80%), research project (20%)


80% Exam, 20% Project

Geography is the study of people, their environment, and the interaction between the two. The course follows from Junior Cycle 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.

The syllabus is divided into 4 main units. All students study the Core Units 1-3 and Elective Unit 4. Core Unit 1 –  Patterns and processes in the physical environment. This unit examines the relationship between the tectonic cycle, the rock cycle and the processes of landform development. Core Unit 2 –  Regional geography. This unit examines how economic, human and physical processes interact in regional settings. Core Unit 3 – Geographical investigation and skills. This unit encourages the development of skills in handling spatial information leading to the completion of an individual geographical investigation. Elective Unit 4 – Patterns and processes in the economic environment. This unit examines patterns in economic development and the growth of a single interdependent global economy.

There are two assessment components: Written Examination (80%) and Geographical Investigation Report (20%).


80% Exam, 20% Project

History aims to record and analyse things which have happened in the past, with an emphasis on both how and why events occurred. It deals with human experience and involves an investigation of the surviving evidence relating to such experience. History 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.

This subject suits a student who enjoys and appreciates history, and would like to improve their knowledge, who is willing to commit a lot of time; History is a demanding subject, who has strong English language skills, and are able to write and students aiming to improve their self-discipline and research skills.

The Leaving Cert History course is divided into two fields of study: Early Modern (1492-1815) and Late Modern (1815-1993). Each field is further divided into Irish topics and European topics.

Assessment consists of two components: a written examination paper (80%) and a research study report (20%) submitted around Easter before the June exam.


25% Composing, 25% Listening, 25% Performance, 25% Elective

Leaving Certificate Music involves a series of interrelated musical activities within each of the three core areas of musical experience – performing, composing and listening. In performing, students choose from a variety of individual and/or group performing activities. In composing, students develop an understanding of musical structure and form, while the listening component provides for rich aural experiences through exposure to music of different periods, styles and genres.

This subject suits students who have shown an aptitude for music, such as by getting high grades in Junior Cycle Music and are keen to develop and practice more. Being able to read music and being competent in singing or playing an instrument are an advantage. 

Performance: examined in April of 6th year.

Listening Paper: examined in June of 6th year – 90 minutes duration.

Composition Paper: examined in June of 6th year – 90 minutes duration.


Physical Education 

Written Exam – 50%, Project – 20%, Performance – 30%

The purpose of the physical education course is to develop the student’s ability to participate in physical education and physical activity. The course is suitable for students who have a strong interest in sports, physical fitness or physical activities such as dancing. It develops the student’s performance levels, as well as introducing the student to insights into physical activity from the social and life sciences. Students choose from a wide variety of physical activities and will work to improve their performance in these activities. The course should suit physically active students who are engaged in individual or team sports as well as activities such as dance and gymnastics as well as suiting students who plan to pursue a career in sports and fitness occupations, such as physiotherapy, physical training or sports coaching.

As the written assessment comprises 50% of the marking, ability in the physical activity alone will not be sufficient, students will need to engage with the classroom portion of the course. The course is structured so that knowledge learned in the classroom, such as how to analyse skills and improve nutrition, will directly benefit the student’s physical performance goals.

The physical education course features theoretical and practical sections. The two sections are interlinked, with the knowledge gained in the theoretical section enabling the student to improve his/her performance in the practical assessments. In the theoretical section students will study the factors that impact on physical performance, the relationship between sport and society and examine the benefits of participation in physical activity. The topics studied are varied, they include learning how to maintain fitness, nutrition, develop skills, the ethics of sport and the promotion of active lifestyles. In the physical section, students will be assessed on their skill level in three activities. There is a wide range of physical activities that can be selected, such as football, rugby, sailing, swimming, dance, running and weight training. Students will then work on improving their preparation, participation and performance in their chosen activity.


100% Exam

Physics describes the laws and forces that govern natural phenomena. The subject aims to enhance students’ ability to think logically, to observe, to understand scientific method and to communicate effectively. It offers a general education in physics for all students. Science, Technology and Society (STS) is an integral part of the syllabus so that students can be aware of the principles of the applications of physics in the everyday world. Physics suits a student who wonders why and asks how. 

Physics aims to enhance the 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 of Senior Cycle, 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 exam paper.

The study of Physics for Leaving Certificate is broken down into eight sections or topic areas: (a) Six compulsory sections: Optics / Waves: the study of light and sound and real life applications of the theory, Mechanics: time, space, distance, speed and acceleration, Heat: changes of state, energy conversions and mathematical problems, Electricity: develops on from simple circuits to more detailed concepts, Electricity and Magnetism: gravity, relationship between electricity and magnetism, study of how a motor works, ac. and dc. circuits and phenomena with real world applications, Atomic Physics: cathode rays, x-rays, radioactive decay, fission and fusion, nuclear reactors and real world applications.
(b) Two option sections: Particle Physics: recent type of physics, delving into the new discoveries leading to a better understanding of the formation of the universe and where we came from and Applied Electricity: detailed study of electricity and the working of a motor developing from electricity already studied.


More detailed information available on Curriculum Online and Careers Portal.