St. Angela's School, Ursuline Convent Waterford
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Leaving Certificate

The traditional Senior Cycle examination is the terminal examination of post-primary education and is taken when students are typically 17 or 18 years of age. Syllabuses are available in more than 30 subjects and students are required to take at least five subjects, one of which must be Irish.

Core Subjects:

Irish, English, Mathematics, Religious Education, Physical Education, Career Guidance


Accounting, Art, Biology, Business, Chemistry, Economics, French, Geography, History, Home Economics, Music, Physics, Spanish, Learning Support

Accounting is an essential element of any business. A good logical mind and an ability to manipulate figures is all that is needed. The syllabus is divided into two sections, financial accounting and management accounting. Financial accounting exposes the students to the principle of double entry and the preparation of final accounts using accounting standards, all companies are obliged by law to prepare accounts. Students will be able to interpret accounts (ratios), prepare cash flow statements and learn how to present accounts of clubs or societies as well as other very relevant areas.

Management accounting on the other hand is essential in helping managers make very important decisions, which will affect the future of their businesses. It is divided into costing and budgeting. Costing examines product costing (how do companies decide what price to charge for their products and how will they allocate costs relating to these products) and marginal costing (if managers alter costs, selling price or volume what effects will this have on profits). This technique helps managers to become more focused and fine-tune their companies to best practice. Budgeting looks at cash budgets (money in and money out) and functional budgets (what the company would hope to achieve in different areas of their business). The exam is 21/2 hours for ordinary level and 3 hours for higher level and is divided into three sections.


Section 1: Financial Accounting (120 marks)

Section 1: Financial Accounting (200 marks)

Section 3: Management Accounting (80 marks)


Leaving Certificate art is made up of four units linked together and based on the everyday visual experience of the student’s own environment. The practical work can include Life Sketching, Still Life, Imaginative Composition, Design and Craftwork. Students also study the History and Appreciation of Art, which covers Irish and European Art, and Art Appreciation. This syllabus is for students in the senior cycle of post-primary education and is assessed at Ordinary and Higher levels.

Gold Medal for Leaving Certificate Biology

St. Angela’s Biology student, Caoimhe Mahony was one of 5 2018 Leaving Certificate Biology students awarded Gold Medals of Excellence from the Institute of Biology at a ceremony in the National Botanic Gardens on November 29th, 2018. These annual awards for excellence in Biology are made to the highest performing students in the current year’s Leaving Certificate examinations.

The Institute also awarded Caoimhe’s Biology teacher, Ms. Grainne Enright, with a Certificate of Teacher Commendation.


Business in the Leaving Certificate exposes students to how businesses operate in both a national and international environment. The student can expect to understand how to form a business and the necessary legal requirements to be put in place to do so. They will also learn the necessary skills and characteristics to become a successful entrepreneur / manager. How best to market ones company from initial brainstorming of ideas to product / service development, to achieving sales of product or service and advertising will all be studied. The consumer and their rights are also addressed as its the rights and responsibilities of employee and employers. The legislation covering these areas will be dealt with. The government and their role in the business environment are crucial to how businesses operate. As a member of the EU Ireland must adhere to EU regulations when conducting business both at home and internationally. More so than ever companies are expected to be socially responsible not only towards their workers but also to the community at large, adherence to environmental regulations and transparency in their operations is essential while exploitation is out of the question. The examination paper is 3 hours for a higher-level paper and 21/2 hours for ordinary level.

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.

Teaching guidelines for each of the adjusted practicals can be found here

Everytime we open a newspaper or watch a news bulletin we are exposed to Economics. The Leaving Certificate Programme is divided into two sections. Micro Economics deals with the economy on a small scale. It studies the producer and how they decide what to produce, what price to charge and what quantity to supply. It studies consumer behaviour and the factors that affect the demand for goods and services. It deals with the factors of production i.e. land, labour, capital and enterprise. Macro Economics deals with economic issues at a national or international level. It studies money and banking. National income, the role of the Government, inflation, international trade, E.U. and comparing first world to third world economies. Both the higher and ordinary level exam is 21/2 hours and follows the same format.

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.

Why do French at senior cycle? 

Students who have shown an aptitude in French at Junior Certificate Level are encouraged to continue with it for Leaving Certificate. This subject is a requirement for entry into a number of third level courses. NUI universities require a modern foreign language – 402 courses! More than 260 million people speak French on the five continents. 

Certain industries and employers think very highly of candidates with foreign language skills. In the context of Brexit and the increasing importance globally of non-English speaking countries, students need to be well prepared for the challenges that lie ahead. 

French at senior cycle. 

Building on the aims of French in the junior cycle, the programme aims to:  

  • foster in learners such communicative skills in the target language as will enable them to take a full part in classroom activities conducted in French. 
  • to participate in normal everyday transactions and interactions, both spoken and written, both at home and abroad. 
  • to extract information and derive enjoyment from the mass media and the more accessible literature of the target language community. 
  • to consider as a realistic option the possibility of pursuing leisure activities, further study and/or career opportunities through the medium of the target language. 
  • to give pupils a critical awareness of how meaning is organised and conveyed by the structures and vocabulary of French and thus to contribute to their understanding of the workings of human language in general. 
  • to help learners develop strategies for effective language learning. 
  • to equip learners with a broad acquaintance with the cultural, social and political complexion of countries in which French is a normal medium of communication and thus to help raise their awareness of cultural, social and political diversity generally. 
  • to develop intercultural awareness and to promote an appreciation and understanding of France and French speaking countries. 

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.

The NCCA is currently undertaking a review of the Leaving Certificate Syllabus.

Geography is concerned with the study of people and their environment. A study of geography will help students develop an understanding of their physical and human surroundings. It examines the changing inter- relationships between the physical and human worlds. Through their study of geography, students will develop geographical skills that will help them make informed judgements about issues at local, national, and international levels.

Geography can be studied at ordinary or higher level and the subject is differentiated for every individual learner. Students build upon their prior knowledge of the subject and their environment and apply their skills on many levels. The course is divided into core, elective and optional units at both levels and students are actively involved in a Geographical Investigation in which they take part in a field trip to apply their theoretical learning and collaborate with their peers. This investigation is weighted at 20% and is followed by a written state examination weighted at 80%. The Geographical Investigation is an active and fun method for learners to engage with their geographical knowledge and to exercise their skills. Last years sixth year students visited Tramore beach with Kieran McCarthy for their Geographical Investigation.

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.

The Home Economics programme provides students with knowledge, understanding, skills and attitudes necessary for their future lives. The Home Economics creates a learning environment in which students are encouraged develop flexibility and adaptability, problem-solving ability, cookery skills, opinions and awareness of social issues and a deeper knowledge of nutrition and diet.

The syllabus is based on a core of three areas of study that is studied by all students and one elective area, from a choice of three.

Core: Food studies, Resource management and consumer studies, Social studies.

Electives: Home design and management, Textiles, fashion and design, Social studies. (We here in St. Angela’s usually chose from the social or home management electives)


Leaving Certificate Home Economics-Scientific and Social is assessed, at Ordinary and Higher level, as follows:

  • A Written examination paper (80%)
  • Practical assessment is based on a food studied journal (20%), usually completed in fifth year and assessed in sixth year.
  • Five assignments are set by the SEC and four must be completed.

Leaving Cert Mathematics aims to develop mathematical knowledge, skills and understanding needed for continuing education, life and work. By teaching mathematics in contexts that allow learners to see connections within mathematics, between mathematics and other subjects, between mathematics and its applications to real life, it is envisaged that learners will develop a flexible, disciplined way of thinking and the enthusiasm to search for creative solutions.

Music is also an optional subject for Senior Cycle in St. Angela’s. Students explore the main topics of Music (Composition & Harmony) in much greater detail in 5th and 6th Year while also analysing 4 Musical Works in detail. Students explore the world of Irish Traditional Music as well as Music Technology. Music Technology can be used as part of the Leaving Cert Music Practical in conjunction with a performance exam (which is 50% of the total marks for the Leaving Cert Music exam). Students gain skills in performance, analysis of music of many different genres and a thorough understanding of music theory during their Music studies.

Leaving Certificate Physics aims to give students an understanding of the fundamental principles of physics and their application to everyday life. It offers a general education in physics to all students, enabling them to develop an understanding of the scientific method and their ability to observe, to think logically and to communicate effectively. 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.  This syllabus is for students in the senior cycle of post-primary education and is assessed at Higher and Ordinary levels.

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.

Religious Education Non-examination Framework

Spanish 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 Spanish, 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.
Leaving Certificate