Supporting Student’s Success

Senior Cycle Options

Introduction From Principal:


This has been produced as a guide to help students and parents make informed choices and decisions in the transfer from Junior to Senior Cycle here in Ardscoil Rath Iomgháin. I would encourage that particular attention be given to the following sections;

-          The introduction to options

-          Important considerations when choosing your subjects.

I would strongly advise parents in particular to note the contents of these sections and where appropriate to seek advice and clarification from any member of teaching staff. In particular I would stress the advisability of following recommendations of teachers and the school’s guidance counsellors who have the advantage of knowing student’s capabilities and strengths and an acute awareness of the demands and rigours of the Leaving Certificate programme. While often well intentioned, word of mouth and anecdotal opinion is in most cases inaccurate and subjective. We would prefer to concentrate on each student’s individual needs, aspirations and talents. Any advice offered by members of the school staff is done with knowledge of the demands they face and in the best interests of the young people involved.

Have a look at all the information before making any final choices. We are always available to help and advise you in these important decisions.


Mr P. Murphy, Principal




An Introduction to Options at Senior Cycle:

When choosing options  for Senior Cycle, students and      parents should be advised of the following:

All subjects are the same for calculation of points for University/ College entry.

Choose subjects that you enjoy.

Choose subjects where you have achieved good grades.

Your first objective is to pick seven subjects that will give you the highest possible grades.

If your career plans require that you study specific subjects in the Leaving Certificate, discuss this with your guidance counsellor.



Traditional Leaving Certificate

Subject Choice:

At Leaving Cert, examination level, students study seven subjects. For state examination they study Irish, English and Maths (the core/compulsory subjects)

B.And four other subjects of their choosing (options)

Choosing subjects for the leaving cert programme is a simple exercise but a very important one. Base your choice on the following guidelines:

1.You must have a keen interest in the subject.

2.You must choose subjects that give you the best chance of achieving high grades


Along with the main subject options offered to traditional Leaving Certificate students Ardscoil Rath Iomgháin are also one of a few schools that also offer the LCVP programme to our students.


Important Consideration when choosing your Subjects

The requirement of a third language applies to a number of courses. If you are not particularly strong in languages it may be wise to reconsider your choice.

Students should check with their teachers to make sure they are doing the correct level for the course they want to pursue. For example  Higher C in Irish is required for primary school teaching.



Transition Year


Transition Year [or fourth year] is an optional year which can be taken following the Junior Certificate, before a student begins their Leaving Certificate. It is not like a normal school year because students follow a completely different curriculum and have more leisure activities on their timetables.



The underlying philosophy of the fourth year programme is to broaden the education of students so that they grow towards independence and maturity. As a result, it is hoped that they will be able to decide  on their own futures and cope more effectively with life and work.


Educational Aims:

Work experience achieves the following educational aims:

It prepares young people for adult and working life.

It improves the liaison between schools and the working world.

It develops co-operation and partnership with the local community.

It helps to develop more relevant curricula within schools for today’s needs

It improves the quality of Career Guidance within schools.




Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme


The programme gives students the same opportunity to proceed to universities and colleges as other Established Leaving Certificate subjects. Two subjects are selected from one of the Vocational Subject Groupings. These subjects provide students with a focus for developing vocational skills and exploring their career options.

The Link Modules;


Preparation for the World of Work and Enterprise Education are treated as a unit for assessment purposes. Assessment, which is at a common level, comprises two elements;

Terminal Examination Paper                   40%

Portfolio of Coursework.                             60%

From 2017, Institutes of Technology and the Universities recognise the link modules in relation to the addition of points as follows:

Distinction: 66 points

Merit: 46 points

Pass: 28 points




One of the most important decisions students have to make is whether or not to do a language.

It must be remembered that a modern language is required by both NUI Maynooth and UCD. However, some faculties, including Science, Nursing, Engineering and Agriculture no longer require a modern language.




The subject involves the recording of financial information, the presentation of financial information and the interpretation and uses of this financial information. To contribute to a balanced and appropriate general education, leading to the personal and social development of each student together with a fostering of the concept of accountability. To create awareness of the business environment and to provide each student with the knowledge, understanding and skills leading to a personal competence and responsible participation in this changing and challenging environment.

Career Possibilities: Accountancy provides a valuable foundation for all business functions and many top executives have an accountancy background.

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

Exam Structure:

 The subject is examined at higher and ordinary level. Both levels involve one exam of three hours duration. The exam paper is made up of three sections, the first two are based on the Financial Accounting section of the course and the third covers the Management Accounting section. Questions must be answered from all sections of the exam paper.



Agricultural Science:

The Leaving Certificate Agricultural Science syllabus is designed to provide pupils with the necessary skills, practical experience and knowledge in a range of agricultural and scientific principles. The broad course takes in a wide array of topics including Soil Science, Sheep Management, Dairy and Beef Production and Plant & Animal Biology. The course is typically aimed at pupils with an interest in Agriculture and Horticulture or those who wish to pursue a career in Veterinary medicine or Science. An agricultural background is not a necessity, and the course covers a wide variety of topics

Throughout the course the pupils will keep a portfolio of their practical experience, which will be assessed and contributes 25% to their overall grade in the Leaving Certificate.




Contents of the course:

Appreciation & history of art, imaginative composition, still life, graphic design, life sketching, craft work (embroidery, pottery, screen and lino printing, ceramic sculpture, 3 dimensional modelling).

Benefits of the course:

Encourages students’ creative development. Encourages problem solving through the design process. Develops team work through group projects. Develops students’ time management skills. Develops students’ visual and written research skills Develops students’ ability to self and peer evaluate Develops an awareness in students of their environment.


 Can a pupil begin studying art in 5th Year? Yes. Art requires a certain aptitude. It is important to note that the course involves some study for Appreciation and history of Art. A ‘C’ grade in higher level English at Junior Certificate is recommended. The Leaving Certificate Art course consequently demands much commitment. An art portfolio will be required for entry to all third level art and design courses.




This subject means ‘The Study of Life’ in all its variety of forms. Knowledge of the science of biology is essential for understanding human life and the living environment around us.

The Leaving Cert. Biology course covers 3 major units:

The Study of Life, The Cell, and The Organism.

The human biology section includes health and medical topics related to human systems. Other topics covered include genetics, microbiology and ecology as well as systematic investigations of other plant and animal groups.




This is an exciting, practical and vocationally - oriented course that introduces students in simple logical steps to the world of business.

The course aims to create an awareness of the importance of enterprise and to generate a positive and ethical attitude in both business and personal life.

The syllabus is broken up into 3 broad areas:

People in business (the entrepreneurs, the managers, the workers and the consumers)

Enterprise (taking business ideas and developing them into effective business enterprises) 

Environment (how business relates to and connects with the environment, both domestic and international)

Business forms an intricate part of any third level business course and is also relevant to numerous career opportunities.




The study of Chemistry in 5th and 6th Year is desirable not only for those who wish to pursue a career in science, or in careers allied to science, but also for those who wish to gain a deeper understanding of the world around them.

Chemistry is very much the central foundation science subject, which makes it ideal to pair with Physics and Applied Maths. or with Biology and Home Economics for example. The Chemistry syllabus features assessment of practical work and industrial case studies with a particular emphasis on environmental control.



Construction Studies

Construction Studies is the study of the architectural technology and construction materials and techniques. It focuses not only on the “HOW” of construction but the “WHY” of designing any type of building in order to:

make it practical and comfortable for lifetime use

Ensure sustainable and efficient use of materials/energy in the construction phase

Ensure Low carbon footprint throughout its entire period of use

While it can be an advantage to have studied Materials Technology (Wood) for junior cycle it is not considered essential.

Assessment:                          Ordinary %              Higher %

Written Examination                     40                            50

Practical Day Exam                       25                           30

Coursework                                  25                            30

What will you study in this class?

Below are some of the topics which will be studied in-depth to give you the best understanding of how and why the buildings you see every day are designed and constructed the way they are.

Site Preliminaries and  Foundations                               Fireplaces                              Stairs

Plastering and Painting                     Services                 Drawing and Documents

Planning and Documents                  Drainage                                Plumbing and Heating

Walls, Partitions                  Floors, Roofs                                        Windows, Doors



Design and Communication Graphics (DCG)


DCG is a Leaving Certificate subject that aims to stimulate the creative and decision making capabilities of students in the area of design. It promotes problem solving and creative thinking through the analysis and solution of problems both two and three dimensionally. This is done using traditional manual board drawing methods, sketching and the use of 3D solid modelling software.

The subject is a progression from Junior Cert. Techical Graphics, where students will have learnt the fundamental skills and concepts of the subject area. It is a suitable subject for those considering a career in the Architectural or Engineering field and is regarded as an asset and useful resource for those studying third level techical courses.


Career Prospects:


Engineering (Civil, Mechanical, Aeronautical, Electronic, Structural, Biomechanical)

Interior Design

Graphic Design

Furniture Design

Production/Manufacturing Technology

Production Design




·         Design Project:   40%


Students research a design problem, investigate existing solutions and then create their own design. The project involves freehand drawing, graphic design and 3D modelling.


·         Terminal Examination:    60%




Leaving Certificate Economics aims to stimulate students’ curiosity and interest in the economic environment and how they interact in it. The subject is studied across five strands which address fundamental economic questions. Students develop a set of skills, knowledge and values that enables them to understand the economic forces which affect their everyday lives, their society and their economy.


Understand the economy within which people act locally, nationally and globally

Appreciate the ethical, historical, social and environmental implications of economics, and reflect on how economics contributes to the social and political development of society

Build on their knowledge and understanding of economic terminology, concepts and principles, and to develop the skills needed to apply this knowledge and understanding to familiar and unfamiliar situations

Develop skills in critical and creative thinking around contemporary economic and social issues, while appreciating different perspectives, and providing informed solutions to a problem

Research and analyse qualitative and quantitative economic data and information from various sources present and justify conclusions and make informed decisions.




Engineering is a natural progression from Metalwork at Junior Cycle where the pupils will have learnt the fundamental skills and concepts of the subject.

Overview:      Engineering is a practical based subject whereby students develop a variety of engineering skills and techniques necessary for planning, creativity and design realisation. It promotes problem solving and creative thinking while giving pupils a clear understanding of how to bring a design concept to realisation

 “Engineering Is The Ultimate Field For Challenge And Creativity”

The course content can be divided into two main areas:

∙Workshop processes(Practical)    ∙ Materials&technology (Theory)

Topics such as Material Science, Machining, Materials Testing, Metal Joining, Polymers, Electronics, Structures and Mechanisms form the main theory elements covered.

Career Possibilities: Engineering is a core element of many 3rd level Engineering courses. Engineering is a suitable subject for those considering a career in any type of Engineering, which includes Structural, Mechanical, Civil, Manufacturing, Aeronautical and Biomedical Engineering. It would be very beneficial in other areas such as Architecture and Design, Fabrication, Construction, Fitting, Mechanics, Electrical and Plumbing.

Assessment: Engineering is assessed by means of:

Design and Manufacture Project: 25%

Practical examination: 25%

Final written examination: 50%




The general educational aims of foreign language teaching is:

-         to make it possible for pupils to take up job and further education/training opportunities, which may involve some use of the target language

-         to develop the pupils’ capacity to engage in useful interactions in another language.

-         to give pupils an awareness of another culture.

-         to develop an awareness of the grammatical structure of language.

-         to encourage and equip pupils to participate in social and cultural activities, involving use of the target language.


Assessment Schedule:

            -Written                     -Reading                    -Oral               -Aural

Higher            25%                30%                            25%                20%

Ordinary        15%                40%                            20%                25%




Geography is concerned with understanding the world around us and the relationships between the physical world and people. It develops an awareness of social and environmental responsibility through study of vital issues like climate change, water, energy and food security and poverty eradication. It helps us understand events and processes such as an earthquake in California, flooding in Bangladesh, economic growth in China and the increasing cultural diversity in Ireland. Geography shows how daily lives are shaped by local circumstances – not only the physical characteristics of the place, but the social, cultural, economic and political opportunities and constraints.

The syllabus is divided into units. All students study the Core Units 1-3 and Elective Unit 4

Students taking the Higher Level also study Optional Unit 7 Geoecology: This unit is divided into two sections which examine Soils and Biomes.

Soils: formation of, characteristics and human activities and soil

Biome: The Tropical Rainforest of Brazil – plants, animals, soil, climate and human activities

The geographical investigation consists of fieldwork on a topic chosen from a list which is changed annually. Beach, river and urban field studies have been enjoyed by students. This involves working in a team and accounts for 20% of the Leaving Certificate mark. There is also a field trip for 5th year students of Geography.




The syllabus outlines the parameters of summative assessment. Ongoing assessment of pupil performance is a constant feature of good teaching which facilitates improved pupil performance and provides a basis upon which teaching and learning programmes can be planned. Learners should also be encouraged to assess their own progress.


Assessment Criteria:

As outlined in the syllabus assessment criteria will take account of

(i) ability to transfer meaning and

(ii) degrees of accuracy and appropriateness of language including the range of vocabulary and structures used.

Assessment Schedule:

            -Written                     -Reading                    -Oral               -Aural

Higher            25%                30%                            25%                20%

Ordinary        15%                40%                            20%                25%




The Leaving Certificate History Syllabus gives teachers a choice of 4 topics which will be studied from a selection of 12 topics in modern Irish and modern European history.

The skills of working with evidence will be tested and students will be assessed on their comprehension, criticism, comparison and contextualisation of a number of key documents from 3 case studies from this period.

Pupils will also undertake a Research Study which will take the form of a report to be submitted around Easter time before the Leaving Certificate exam in June.





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:

Performance (25%) - students may perform individually or as a group (Senior choir, band etc). The standard required is that of a student who has been performing in a school context for 5 years.

Listening (25%) - includes: - four prescribed works of different historical context - Irish music - general aural skills, i.e. rhythm, melody, vocal & instrumental timbres

Composition (25%) - includes: - melodic & harmonic composition - melody writing - adding chord symbols (e.g. guitar chords) to melody - adding bass notes (base line) to melody - exploring various styles of writing from popular to ‘classical ‘

Remaining 25% - students may undertake any one of the above activities as a “higher elective” e.g.: performance could total 50 % of total.

The syllabus structure has been adopted to provide a fully balanced musical experience central to which is the development of musicality.




The study of Physics is an adventure! It can be challenging but it can also be rewarding. Understanding a little more about the often-surprising ways of the physical world can make the world seem a more fascinating and complex place.

Course Content:

Mechanics (force and movement): satellites, collisions, acceleration of a car. 2. Optics: optical fibres, correcting faulty eyesight, mirrors 3. Heat: different temperature scales, refrigerators 4. Waves: spectra of light, loudness of sounds (decibels) 5. Electricity and magnetism: lightening conductors, Earth’s magnetism 6. Atomic and nuclear physics: nuclear energy, radioactivity, x-rays.




This course combines parts of both Physics and Chemistry into a single course which is examined separately.

It includes:

Mandatory practical experiments which must be completed and written up and

 Written examination on the theory and applications of both disciplines.

Due to large amounts of overlap, it is not possible to take with either Physics or Chemistry.

What kind of student might Physics and Chemistry suit?

-Anyone considering a career in a scientific discipline, such as physics, chemistry, environmental science, or medicine.

-Students who have an interest in both physics and chemistry, but don't have enough time to commit to both subjects separately.



Religious Education

Religious Education calls for the exploration of issues such as meaning and value, the nature of morality, the development of diversity and belief, the principles of a just society, and the implications of scientific progress. It has a particular role to play in the curriculum in the promotion of tolerance and mutual understanding.

The syllabus offers extensive choices and areas of study, e.g. Christianity, world cultures, moral decision making, religion and gender, issues of justice and peace, religion and science, etc. It seeks to develop in students the skills needed to engage in meaningful dialogue with those of other or of no religious traditions. The Subject: Religious Education is a relatively new subject for the Leaving Cert. (It was first examined in 2005). 

It is not necessary to have taken the exam at Junior Cert to succeed at Leaving Cert.

 The subject consists of one core obligatory section, The Search for Meaning and Values and a choice of two other core sections from a list of three, Christianity: origins and contemporary expressions, World Religions, and Moral Decision Making.

An exciting feature of this subject is the Coursework element, which is like an extended essay on a topic supplied by the DES which accounts for 20% of the marks in the final exam. This means in effect that students will have one fifth of the examination covered before they begin the Leaving Cert itself.



Social and Scientific (Home Economics)

Home Economics is an applied subject, combining theory with practice.

The course is divided into three core sections:

Food studies 45%

Resource management and consumer studies 25%

Social studies 10%

There are three electives, from which one will be chosen: 20% They are

Elective 1 - Home Design and Management

Elective 2 -Textiles Fashion and Design

Elective 3 -Social Studies

Practical work is carried out as part of the food studies. This programme will be assessed at Leaving Certificate and counts for 20% of the examination. The practicals are written into a coursework journal and submitted to the Examinations Commission.