5th Year Subject / Course Options

Patrician Secondary School  2013

Message from the School Principal

Please take the time to study carefully the information contained in this booklet, which has been prepared by the school Guidance Counsellor Mr. Gainey. I want to reinforce the advice that he gives. It is very important that you make a course / subject choice that you will not regret later.

It is the policy of the school to provide a wide range of subjects that will best cater for the needs of all students. You will be invited to engage in a discussion with the Guidance Counsellor and your teachers as to the options that are most appropriate for you. You should also discuss this important matter with your parents.

While every effort will be made to facilitate each student with the subjects or course of his choice, subject and course options are often determined by such issues as time table restrictions, teacher numbers and class sizes.

I wish each of you well in your deliberations and I hope we can facilitate you with your choices.

Mr.  Pat O’Leary

School Principal


This booklet begins the process of helping you think through what decision you will make about your future education after Junior Cert. Next year represents a new phase in your education. Over the coming weeks as well as working hard preparing for your Junior Cert. You will need to give some thought to the options that best suit you over the coming years.

It is hoped that the information and ideas provided in this booklet will encourage you to discuss the issues involved with your parents.

The following is an outline of the steps that your school will take you through on the road to your final decision concerning what subject / course options to take after Junior Cert.

Step 1. A meeting will be held with Parents to help explain the courses / subjects on offer by the school after Junior Cert.

Step 2. This document is available online at all times.  Students are expected to access and read it so that it can form the basis of further reflection.

Step 3. Individual teachers will present and explain their subjects to pupils at a special third year assembly.

Step 4.  The school will proceed to draw up subject lines based on the demand and the resources available to the school.

Step 5 . You will be given the subject lines and asked to select the subjects and or course you wish to take next year

We carefully bring you through this process because we realise how important this decision is to you.

Which course after Junior Cert.

We will be offering our students one of three courses next year.

1.Leaving Cert.

2.Leaving Cert. (Vocational)

3.Transition Year

Course options 1 and 2 are similar. Leaving Cert. Vocational is really an option within option 1. the Standard Leaving Cert.  If you have decided to opt for Leaving Cert. or Vocational Leaving Cert. you are required to select subjects from the same list and carry out the same programme as well as sit the same exams.

T.Y is a separate and distinct course. TY students have their own separate class, time-table and subjects.

We would ask you think through the subjects and course options outlined in this document regardless of what at this stage your intentions are for next year.

It is not unusual for students to change their minds on their future plans. Others may not succeed in getting the course / job / career they are seeking. Therefore all students should become familiar with all the options that the school is offering.

Points to consider when choosing subjects.

Most students from this school go on to some form of third level course after completing Leaving Cert.  This is a simple outline of the levels of study you will likely enter into directly after taking your Leaving Cert. two or three years from now.

Post Leaving Cert. (PLC)Level 5 -    1-2 years

Higher Certificate  Level 6 -    2 years

Ordinary Degree    Level 7  -   3 years  

Higher Degree        Level 8  -   4 years 

1.A foreign language is a necessary requirement for direct entry to most Higher Degree Level Courses in the following Universities. Maynooth, UCD, UCC, UCG. However you can now take an Engineering or Science course in these colleges without having French or German at Leaving Cert.

2.A language is not a requirement for all other Universities or IT Colleges in Ireland.

3.There are numerous courses in Business, Science, Engineering and Humanities that offer a modern language as a subject in their course.

4.Almost all Higher Degree level courses in Science and Engineering require a Lab. Science subject. (Biology / Chemistry / Physics). Most Higher Certificate / Ordinary Degree courses that pupils take up after leaving our school do not ask for a specific science subject.

5.Chemistry or Physics are useful at Leaving Certificate if you are going to do further study / training in Engineering especially in the electronic or mechanical career area (even though the course may not have it as a basic entry requirement.)

6.One of Physics or Chemistry is necessary to study Engineering at level 8.  Past pupils sometimes report that although a science subject is not a requirement for the course they are taking, a background in a particular science subject at Leaving Cert is an advantage.

7.On the other hand it is important to realise that choosing your subject or course options after Junior Cert. is different from choosing a career.

8.Understand that you are not locked into or eliminated from certain careers if you choose or don’t choose certain subjects. For example you don’t have to take Technical Drawing to become an Engineer.  Accountancy or any Business subject is not necessary to become an Accountant.

9.There are certain exceptions to this general rule. These exceptions are outlined in this document and should be noted carefully. (See under ‘Subjects’).

10.In order to allow the school to proceed with it's planning for next year, changing your mind on subjects or courses after we break for summer holidays cannot be permitted except in exceptional circumstances.

Course Options

Standard Leaving Cert.

The comments and advice in this section apply to both Leaving Cert. and Leaving Cert. (Vocational )

1. Your overall Leaving Cert results, regardless of subjects, are what count. Most courses at third level education use a points system to select students into their courses. This means that those with the best results in over 5 or 6 subjects get the places. It's easy to lose sight of this when you are in the midst of trying to decide what subjects to take for your Leaving Cert.

2. All subjects are good for all careers.

3. On the other hand many courses at third level, especially Higher Degrees Level 8 courses lay down specific essential subjects and Leaving Cert. grades. It is very important to check the subject requirement in this document. Parents and their sons must take responsibility for the consequences of choosing or not choosing particular subjects. It is not possible to cover all entry requirements to third level courses and further training in this document. If you wish to take a closer look and get more specific details we recommend you visit

www.careersportal.ie or


Leaving Cert: Vocational: (LCVP)

This is a Leaving Cert. course in every sense of the word.  It can best be described as a Leaving Cert. with a strong vocational dimension. That means that a good deal of learning is either directly or indirectly focused on the world of work. The programme aims to combine the virtues of the traditional academic Leaving Cert. with the development of skills and qualities that will prove important in the lives of students when they leave school.

Students who take the LCVP will be required to fill out the subject option form in the normal way. In order to qualify for the course you must be taking any of the seven subjects combinations below.

1:  Construction Studies and  DCG.

2:  Physics and Construction Studies.

3:  Any two Business subjects (Accounting, Economics, Business).

4:  Any two Science subjects (Physics, Chemistry, Biology).

5:  Construction Studies and Business or Accounting or Economics.

6:  Art and Business or Accounting or Economics.

7:  Music and Business or Accounting or Economics.

8:  Any  two Technical subjects (DCG, Construction Studies, Technology)

9:  Business and a technical subject

You may want to consider the table above when deciding on what Leaving Cert subjects to take. If you select any of the combination of subjects listed above you will qualify for Leaving Cert. (Vocational). This means that as well as studying the standard Leaving Cert. subjects you are required to take an additional subject called Link Modules. This involves the study of Enterprise, Preparation for Work and a Work Experience placement. 60% of the marks for this subject go towards a portfolio of work  carried out in school over the two years. 40% go towards a written exam taken just before the Leaving Cert. Link Modules is scored in the following way:

All third level colleges now award it the following points.

Credit    30pts

Merit    50pts

Distinction 70pts

The co-ordinator for this course is Mr. Padraig Gill.

Transition Year:

This is a one-year course taken by some students before Leaving Cert.  The programme provides for the development of personal and social skills.  It encourages both activity based (doing projects) and self-directed learning both inside and outside the classroom. The course has been successfully run in our school for the last 17 years. There is growing concern at the number of students who drop out of college courses. One factor for the drop out rate is that students are starting such courses too young and immature.

This is a year where the students are given the opportunity to study a wide range of subjects not on offer in the Leaving Cert. Programme.  Work experience, drama, art, mini-company, film studies and computer studies are among some of the subjects studied. In a Transition year programme you will take responsibility for your own learning. Students are  given the freedom to acquire new skills and to evaluate life in ways that is just not possible in a system dominated by examinations.

The co-ordinator for this course is Mr. Ronan McCool.

Some General Points

1.It may surprise you to know that it is possible to study Science or Engineering at IT Colleges without having a Science subject in Leaving Cert.

2.For certain careers and courses you need a science subject. Students are best advised to take a science subject if you are in any way interested in working with science later. Universities offering courses in the area of Engineering, Medical, Paramedical Radiography, Physiotherapy, Nutrition, Pharmacy, Medical Lab. Science, Architecture (UCD) and General Science require a least one science subject. Two Science subjects are necessary to study Medicine and Physiotherapy in TCD.

3.Chemistry or Physics are the most useful subjects for Higher Degree Engineering courses. Unless you have a very good reason you will be expected to take at least one science subject.  It is of course best to take the subjects you enjoy most and believe you can achieve the best results in. 

4.Although a Business subject is not essential if you wish to take a business course after Leaving Cert., it may prove useful. 

5.Your results in History or Geography could be the very subjects that gets you your place in an I.T College or University; (90% of 6th years in this school now apply for third level courses.)

6.If you are thinking of Engineering Science or Electronics in the Institutes of Technology you don’t need a  Science subject at Leaving Cert.

7.You no longer need French or German as a basic requirement for most Universities and Colleges. Once again balance this fact against the results you could get in the subject as opposed to taking alternative subjects. See more detail under languages.

8.If you are considering taking up Art for the first time you are required to submit a portfolio of work to the art teacher. This must be done before the end of April. All other students who are considering taking Art should make contact with Mr Behan before the end of April.

9.Although a subject may not appear important for a particular course or career it could get you the results (the points) to get you into that training course. Have a look at the way the points system works. The grades on your best six subjects only are used for calculating points.

                                    click here for-----------The Points System

Bonus Points

All seven Irish Universities and IT Colleges will allocate a bonus of 25 points to students who achieve a grade D3 or higher in higher level Mathematics.  This scheme is due for review in 2014.

Applicants should refer to college literature for confirmation and full details.

Foundation Maths

Certain HEI’s will award points for foundation Maths.  Applicants should refer to the HEI literature for full details

Note:  Re Higher Maths Points

From 2012, 25 extra points will be added to any Higher Maths grade in the Leaving Cert. at all seven Irish Universities and (since 2010) at all Institutes of Technology. For example an A1 will equal 125 points, a D3 will equal points 80 points etc.  This applies for Higher Maths only.

Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) is to make a ‘second chance’ maths exam available to those who do not have minimum entry requirements because they have not achieved the desired result in the Higher level Maths exam.  If students pass the WIT alternative exam, they will then be eligible for entry to some courses from which they would have been previously excluded.

Another major third level college has decided that an E grade in Higher level maths (normally a fail) will now be regarded as a pass. Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) has announced this concession for the 2012 exams.

Subject Options

All students take Irish, English and Maths, PE and RE .









Construction Studies


Technical Drawing





Listed below are the Leaving certificate optional subjects highlighting their relevance to a number of courses and careers, but don’t forget, all courses are good for all careers. What employers and colleges want to see are good results, evidence of achievement and hard work.

Students for courses in IT Colleges and Universities are selected on the basis of Leaving Cert. results scored over the best six subjects


There are many reasons for studying a foreign language to Leaving Certificate level, both for your personal development and for your future options. Lets clear up one misconception from the start. You do not need a foreign language for all University or College courses.

However you do need one to study most courses in the National University of Ireland and it's related colleges. University College Dublin (UCD), University College Cork (UCC), NUI Galway and Maynooth.  If you want to go on to study Engineering or Science in the these colleges you do not need a foreign language.  A language may be required to become a cadet in the army or the air corps. 

You do not need a language for Trinity College Dublin (who will accept Irish as your second language) or The University of Limerick, Dublin City University, DIT, and all the Institutes of Technology unless the course in question involves the study of a language.  Many other colleges have it as a requirement for specific courses, such as a degree in European Studies, Languages, International Business with German / French / Spanish or Marketing.  

Many Science and Engineering courses include study of either technical French or German, with most allowing study of the language ab initio (from scratch).

Industry and employers rate language skills highly especially if you can combine them with computers, electronics, business or law.

Leaving Certificate Students are expected to reach a very high standard in the language and are given a written exam, reading comprehension, listening comprehension (to a tape) and an oral examination. So be prepared to work!

This is a sample of the list of courses that require a specific result in a Language.  If you feel you or your parent/parents need a more comprehensive list contact the school Guidance Counsellor.

A European Language is not a basic entry requirement for the vast majority of courses in Institutes of Technology or D.I.T. Colleges.


Employers tend to expect applicants to have numerical skills and a large number of third level courses including Science and Engineering stipulate at least an OD as an entry requirement.  Grade OC is required for a number of Science, Engineering and Business courses.

You can study Maths at Higher, Ordinary or Foundation level for Leaving Cert. Your Maths teacher will guide you on this matter.

Some courses where Honours Maths is essential:


Actuary/Financial Studies DCU


Theoretical Physics

Chemical Process Engineering Degree (RTC Cork)

Computer/Languages (TCD)

Management Science (TCD)

Applied Maths and Computing (UL)

Applied Physics  DCU

Applied Physics/Language (DCU)

Engineering Degree (most colleges)

Financial and Actuarial Maths in (DCU)

Engineering in U.L.

Computer Studies UCG

Computer Degree (Waterford IT)

Electronics Degree (Waterford IT)


The world of chemistry involves everything we use, wear, consume, including plastics, foodstuffs preservatives etc. The subject deals with the composition of matter, the laws of chemical change and the relationship between properties and the composition of substances. As a subject it offers a wide range of options in the scientific field ranging from brewing technology to patent work and from science technical to food processing.

For some third level courses a Science subject is essential and for a few that subject must be Chemistry.

Almost all first year Engineering and General Science degree/cert. courses will involve the study of Chemistry in the first year. 

“C” (honour's) for Human Nutrition and Lab Science Technician (Kevin St.)

Two Science subjects are necessary to study Medicine and Occupational Therapy in TCD.

Dentistry  (UCC) and Veterinary Medicine (UCD) will require HC in Chemistry.

Recent observations from journalists writing about careers have suggested that the Irish Economy is experiencing a shortage of people with Chemistry skills. Yet points requirements to get into Applied Chemistry courses in Institutes of Technology are among  the lowest. This is the case because the demand for these courses among school leavers is low.


Biology is the science of life and living things. It form a knowledge base for hundreds

of careers ranging from Oceanography to Ecology to Medicine and Biotechnology

This is a Science subject with a great future  It can also be studied for enjoyment and the understanding of nature. It is not a specific requirement for many nurse training courses though most hospitals would expect you to have it.


This course encourages the production of practical projects and briefs as solutions to identified problems. The main core topics that will be studied are

1.Project and Quality Management

2.Materials and Production.

3.Communication and Graphic Media

4.Information and Communication Technology

5.Structures and Mechanics

6.Energy Electricity and Mechanics.

Students do not need to have taken Technology at Junior Cert to qualify for this course. It would however be an advantage if students had one of Tech Drawing, Wood Technology or Technology.  


Physics deals with the laws and forces governing natural phenomena, and includes heat light electricity and magnetism.  It is of key importance in Technology and particularly relevant for those interested in specialising in most branches of Engineering. It is the most mathematical of the Science subjects offered. It is an essential requirement for Theoretical Physics (TCD) Electrical Engineering (UCC), Electrica l/ Electronic Degree (DIT) (HC),  Naval Cadet (OD).

It should however be noted that Physics is not a basic entry requirement for courses offered at Cert. (2years) or Diploma (3years)


You may not know it but economics is a subject that you are already familiar with. Each day the media keeps you in touch with a wide range of economics issues: unemployment and job creation, inflation, the EU and EMU, Third World issues, taxation and interest rates, government economic policies and the performance of the economy.  Economics studies how the scarce resources are best distributed to satisfy our infinite needs and wants.

The study of economics is divided into two sections

Microeconomics is the study of individual markets i.e. buyers and sellers agree on a price. The price helps decide who gets the goods and services and what factors of production are employed.

Macroeconomics deals with matters affecting the wealth of the whole community called Gross National Product (GNP). You will study Banking, International Law and Finance, the EU and the role of Government in the economy etc.,  Other topics covered include; inflation, international trading, the ECHO, the role of the government in controlling economy, and different types and competition and markets. Like Accountancy, it could be some advantage to have this subject if you find yourself taking a third level course in Accountancy / Business at Degree level.  Economics is a core subject in all Business courses at Third Level.


Extending beyond the actual making of records, i.e. book keeping, Accounting is concerned with the use these records are put to, their analysis and interpretation.  It is an excellent preparation for any business related occupation though not essential for any business college. Professional training in Accounting would obviously still be a great help to students wishing to pursue any third level business related course.

What Accounting involves

1.You learn to prepare business and final accounts, cash flow statements, public accounts.

2.You learn Management Accounting. This involves business day to day planning and planning for the future using Costing and Budgets.

3.You deal with Accounts of non-profit making organisations.

4.You learn to analyse and comment on financial records.


This subject is concerned with understanding the environment in which business operates. As a Business student you are encouraged to show enterprise, initiative and self-reliance. You study all aspects of the business world. You learn about

1.People:  Consumers, Producers, Investors, Interests Groups, Employers, and Industrial Relations.

2.Enterprise:    Entrepreneur, Management of Business, Financial Management, Human Resource Management, Marketing, Household Management, Starting / Running your own business. 

3.Environment:   Types of Business, Community Development, Government and Business, International Business, EU, Role of Information Technology in Business.

Many students seem to believe that this is an easy or "handy" subject. The results of the Leaving Cert. published by the Dept of Education clearly show that the grades achieved in the other Business subjects are just as good .


Technical Drawing develops intellectual qualities of comprehension, analysis and problem solving as well as the skills of manipulation , dexterity and the development of overall design sensitivity.  Though not essential for those wishing to pursue a career in Architecture or Engineering, it forms the basis of many technical courses.  One of Engineering, Construction Studies or Technical Drawing is required for entry to Limerick University College’s courses in these areas.  If you have not taken Technical Graphics for Junior Cert. it may still be possible to take it for Leaving Cert.


This introduces students to the knowledge and skills involved in construction technology, materials and practices.  Though primarily relating to the study of  domestic building, broader aspects are also covered.  As well as looking at the historical development of buildings the course involves such topics as house purchase and mortgages, substructure, superstructure, internal construction services and external works.  Because of the constraints on the rooms available it will not be possible to offer more that one class in this subject. This means that we may have to disappoint some students.


History can be a most enjoyable challenge, embracing the world of Politics, Economics, Religion and Philosophy.  It develops skills such as identifying main issues and the ability to select relevant information.  If you are a good writer, and enjoy reading you may have an aptitude for this subject.  Remember that history is good for all careers in so far as a good result in it could get you the points you need.

It may surprise you to know that Accountancy firms look favourably on people with honours History degrees as  suitable for careers in Accountancy.


Geography concerns itself with the interrelationships between man’s activities and the physical environment. This includes the study of the population, farming industry, resources, landscape, pollution, statistics and communication.

It is one of the the subjects on the curriculum with a really broad scope.  It is regarded as Social Science. 


Not to be confused with just playing games, this subject involves a full social and sporting interaction with people, developing teamwork, co-operation, safety and an introduction to a variety of leisure activities. Every student should participate even if you think you have little talent.  Definitely a good confidence and  friendship builder. The school has experienced outstanding success in all areas of sport over the years.  Not surprising then that it plays a prominent role in the schools curriculum.  The growth in the number of 'Recreation Management' courses at 3rd level sometimes requires a high level of commitment and achievement in sport.


Creates an awareness of ourselves and contributes to an understanding and appreciation of life.  Examines our values and morals and relates these to Christian and other principles.  It would be a mistake for students or indeed parents to think that this subject has no educational importance.

The more pressurised the exam system becomes the more important it becomes to have a class in which the student can reflect on his experiences and make sense of his life.  The subject is soon set to become an exam subject.

Frequently Asked Questions

If I’m taking a combination a subjects allowed for LCVP do  I have to take Link Modules (the LCVP subject)

As already stated if you are taking certain combinations of Leaving Certificate subjects, you can opt to take the LCVP.  Sixty percent of the marks available are awarded for a portfolio of work, compiled during the two years of the programme, with the remainder being awarded for a short written paper taken in mid May of your Leaving Certificate year.  We believe your best approach to this issue is to select your subjects on the basis of what you like and  what you are most suited to and interested in. If having chosen and received your subjects you discover you have qualified for Link Modules (the additional LCVP subject) you should then give serious consideration to taking it. The points gained from your results in Link Modules may be included in your best 6 subjects.

Should I take on extra subjects outside of school if it’s not possible to take all the subjects that I want?

This school like all other schools is faced with restriction in the subjects it can offer. In general we would advise against taking on an extra subject over and above the subjects allocated to you by the school. However if you already have achieved a high standard in the subject i.e. taken Music exams, are proficient in a language or have great artistic talent, you could consider taking Music, an additional foreign language or Art as an eighth subject outside of school.  Don’t forget you will need to factor in an appropriate amount of study time to cover all your other subjects. Contact your Guidance Counsellors for advise about your particular situation.

What happens if I do not take Honours Irish?

Apart from not being able to take a number of higher degree programmes, which have Irish, as a core entry requirement, the main consequence of not taking higher level Irish, is that you are precluded from studying to be a primary school teacher, in any of the Irish training colleges.

What happens if I do not take a language other than Irish and English?

The colleges of the National University of Ireland demand a pass in a third language, for entry into most of their courses, apart from Nursing Science and Engineering. These colleges are UCD, UCG, UCC, and NUI Maynooth.. A third language is also required, for entry into the Cadetship in the army or aircorp. Trinity accepts Irish, as fulfilling their second language requirement. UL and DCU, plus all the Institutes of Technology, do not require a continental language for entry purposes to their courses.

What is the easiest subject in the Leaving Certificate and what’s the hardest?

There is no such thing as a ‘handy’ Leaving Cert subject. This is particularly the case at honours level. I hope that the figures outlined below dispel a few myths about some subjects being much easier than others. Some subjects may appear to have a very high success rate, but this is usually a reflection of the academic ability of the of students who take the subject in the first place. Below is an outline of results of those who achieved C3 or better at Honours level in the range subjects in recent Leaving Certificate examinations. Girls outperformed boys in almost all subjects. Have a look at the figures and discuss the results with your teacher.

Irish          (F) 84%                (M) 80%

French       (F) 75%                 (M) 67%,

English     (F) 79%                (M) 72%

German     (F) 85%                 (M) 77%,

Maths          (F) 79%             (M) 77%

Art             (F) 84%                  (M) 73%,

History        (F) 72%             (M) 66%

Physics      (F) 76%                  (M) 70%,

Geography (F) 77%              (M) 70%

Chemistry (F) 78%                  (M)75%,

Biology       (F) 72%              (M) 69%,

Tech Drawing (F) 79%           (M) 75%,

Accounting (F) 85%              (M) 79%,

Business     (F) 71%                 (M) 67%,

Economics (F) 73%               (M) 71%,

Music          (F) 96%                 (M) 94%

Social & Scientific (F) 78%  (M) 65%,

RE               (F) 97%                 (M) 84%,

Applied Maths (F) 74%        (M)77%,

Const Studies (F) 77%             (M) 80%.

M= MaleF= Female

What combinations of subjects should I aim for?  

If you are unsure of what subjects to go for then attempt to select a balanced range of subjects, which will leave your career choice options open for as long as possible. You should spread your final four choices across the entire spectrum of Business, Scientific, Liberal Arts (History, Geography) and Practical subjects. You should also be mindful of the results of previous examinations, your strengths and weaknesses.

I strongly recommend that you visit www.careersportal.ie and go to the Course Finder section of the site. There you will find details on entry requirements to all University and IT Courses. Another good site is www.qualifax.ie website.

Should I take Honours Maths?

Assuming that you are taking Honours Maths for Junior Cert you may wish to continue with the subject into Leaving Cert.

Each year some students struggle to stay with honours Maths. Here are some facts that they and their parents should consider.

There are wide ranges of level 8-degree programmes from which you will be precluded, if you do not secure a minimum of a D3 or in many cases a C3, in higher-level Leaving Cert Maths. These would include many Engineering, Computer’s, Science, Electronic and Computer Science courses, and most degrees that include Maths as a core subject.  However, if you are interested in careers, which derive from such courses, you can always start with a Advanced Certificate Course which will only require a D3 in ordinary level Math’s. Provided you secure a grade of at least 60% in your college examinations you can progress through to Ordinary Degree Level 7 and then on to a Higher Degree programme. This route to gain qualifications is adding only one extra year over and above those who secure a place on a higher degree programme directly from Leaving Cert.

Students who are considering repeating the Leaving Cert are often surprised when this is pointed out to them.

A pass in Ordinary level Math’s or a pass in Honours Level is essential for entry to virtually all courses after the Leaving Certificate. This is of course another very good reason not to persist with taking Honours if you are going to run the risk of failing.

See also the note on extra points for Higher Maths under ‘The Points System’ above.