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St Andrew's College Dublin St Andrew's College Dublin

Option Subjects

Economics     Accountancy       Business  
Applied Maths     Art       Classical Studies  
Geography     History       Home Economics  
Biology     Physics       Chemistry  
Music     Design       Religious Education  


The course is designed to give a broad picture of economic activity on a national and international basis and deals with the basic concepts and principles of Economics. Although a more abstract subject than the other two, Economics has great practical application in that it helps students to understand the working of the economy around them. The theory on the course is closely related to current, topical issues such as inflation, balance of payments problems, national wage negotiations. In nearly every newspaper one picks up today, there is probably an article on some aspect of the economy where a basic knowledge of Economics would help one to understand it more fully. Many political issues today are really economic issues. A study of Economics is probably a study of one of the most topical subjects on the course. If you are interested in current affairs and politics, Economics is a good subject to study, it is also a useful base of most administrative, clerical and management jobs; useful for Social Science courses and careers, for Business Studies; Commerce or Economics courses; for Management, Marketing and Advertising; for Civil Service and Local Government jobs. Many professional bodies - e.g. Accountancy, Banking, Insurance have Economics as a subject in their examinations and it is useful to have studied it at school.

This is a Business option within the Leaving Certificate programme. It covers aspects of business and social life, which are not dealt with in any other subject in that programme. This new syllabus (1997) is concerned with the preparation, recording, presentation and analysis of financial information for the purpose of making economic decisions.
Accounting has become an important part of young people's education, not just for socio-economic reasons but also because of the ever increasing involvement of citizens in various roles in the running of clubs, societies and businesses of all types.
While the course has been designed to follow on from the Junior Certificate Business Studies, provision has been made within it for well-motivated and mature students to study it at Leaving Certificate level without the benefit of that background. Many students in the past have been in this situation and have been extremely successful at honours level.
It hopes:
To develop student's literacy, numeracy, problem-solving and communication skills and to develop an attention to detail in the presentation of information.
To develop and understanding of the structures, institutions, processes and management of business.
To enable students to make informed business decisions.
To enable students to use established commercial principles and knowledge, to critically evaluate commercial information, and to offer solutions to given commercial problems.
To promote a positive awareness of cultural and social diversity in international business.
To enable students to understand and appreciate ethics in business.
This new syllabus (1997) was introduced to replace Business Organisation. 'Business' is a business option within the established Leaving Certificate programme. It is concerned with the understanding of the environment in which business operates in Ireland and in the wider world. It also involves equipping the students with a positive view of enterprise and its applications in the business environment, in both the public and private sectors. It aims:
To develop a clear understanding of the role of enterprise, to encourage the development of appropriate enterprise learning skills, and to generate in students a positive and ethical attitude to enterprise in personal, business and public life.
To develop a critical understanding of the overall environment in which business functions.
To help prepare students for participation in a changing business environment for adult and working life and also as a basis for further education.
Our curiosity and fears about the physical world around us have been with us for many thousands of years and have been satisfied and allayed in a variety of ways. In relatively recent times it was realised that Mathematics could be used as a tool for developing concepts and ideas about the world which would allow us to understand and explain how objects and systems of objects behave as they do and to predict their future behaviour. Experimental Science is continually bearing witness to the power and accuracy of this approach.
It is an approach, moreover, which is all the more powerful in that it may be used to analyse situations which are not part of our normal everyday experience, such as the world of sub-atomic particles or the world of stars and galaxies.
1. To arouse in the student an appreciation of an interest in the use of Mathematics to understand and explain the complexities of the physical world.
2. To complement the existing Mathematics courses by strengthening the student's knowledge obtained in the Mathematics classes.
To develop in the student:
1. The ability to set up mathematical models for a variety of situations in the physical world.
2. The ability to use these mathematical models to acquire information about the situations under analysis and to make predictions, where appropriate, in relation to their future behaviour.
3. A realisation that many seemingly different situations in the physical world may be
analysed in the same way, that is, by using Newton's Laws of Motion.
4. The ability to construct useful diagrams from information given about a particular situation, as an aid to further Mathematical Analysis.
5. Good problem-solving skills.
Art is an extremely important subject. It encourages the creative mind which is so necessary in all areas of life. It has strong links with every other subject because it develops a way of seeing. It is an obvious choice for all third level art courses leading to careers in film, fashion, photography, architecture, design, theatre as well as the fine arts.
The Leaving Certificate course has a large practical component. This consists of all combinations of image making, all crafts/design and drawing. Art History accounts for 38% of the overall mark. It is often seenas beneficial for those who would enjoy history as well as art at third level. This component is essentialfor those wishing to take up careers as curators in museums and galleries, teaching and similar vocations.
For students who are keen to study art, design or architectural courses at third level they have the option to do an International Baccalaureate Certificate as well as the Leaving Certificate. The study and work undertaken for the IB is nearer a portfolio course and therefore more acceptable for college entry.
Classical Studies is made up of the Literature, History, Art and Architecture of Greece and Rome. There is no language content. It is not necessary to have studied the subject at Junior Certificate level. 
It is a fascinating and varied subject which includes the study of great stories such as the adventures of Odysseus and the tragedy of King Oedipus; historical events of immense significance (the birth of democracy, the dictatorship of Julius Caesar, and the Empire of Alexander the Great); and the roots of our visual culture (Classical architecture, Naturalistic sculpture and painting).
If you enjoy the Humanities and have a facility for the appreciation of literature, history and the arts, this subject is most rewarding and this is reflected in a good number of high grades and a high level of interest.
Classical Studies provides a valuable training in the skills of analysis, research and presentation of information. It is an excellent preparation for third-level education as a high degree of personal input of ideas is sought.
In the results tables Classical Studies appears to be a difficult subject in which to get a high honour. This is not so. A large number of students in the country attempt to study it in one year which adversely affects the results tables.
The study of Greece and Rome is surprisingly relevant to today. So much of what we are stems from the Ancient World - our language, forms of government, religion, art and architecture; philosophy, education, drama and history. We cannot understand ourselves without understanding where we come from.
Having studied Geography in the Junior Cycle and possibly in Transition Year, you have a fair idea of what sort of topics are looked at under the heading of Geography.
A new Geography syllabus was introduced in September 2004 and was first examined in June 2006. By now, substantial experience and analysis of its examination criteria has been built up. 
The new course has two levels (Higher and Ordinary) and is divided into: three core units, an Elective, a Geographical Investigation and an Option Unit (Higher Level only).
Students are required to study:
Core Unit 1 Physical Environment
Core Unit 2 Regional Geography of Ireland, mainland Europe and the Sub Continental World
Core Unit 3 Geographical Investigation (Field Study)
One of the following two Electives:
            Elective Unit 4            Patterns and processes in economic activities
            Elective Unit 5            Patterns and processes in the human environment
One of four optional areas of study (Higher Level only):
·         Global Interdependence
·         Geoecology
·         Culture and Identity
·         The Atmosphere / Ocean Environment
The syllabus will be examined by a terminal examination and by an Investigative Field Study Report which will be produced during the Fifth and early part of Sixth Year and assessed separately from the examination paper. (This is worth 20% of total mark).
Why study Geography?
1. As a subject in itself, geography encourages a natural enquiry and aids understanding of the natural, human and economic aspects of the world and the processes involved. Those who study geography often display a good broad understanding and appreciation of the workings of our world. In particular, the issues of the moment:
·         Climate change V World natural resource consumption
·         Weather, flooding and natural disaster events
·         Population Demographics and economics in Developed and Developing Worlds
·         Globalisation and local geography – urban and rural issues
The breadth of knowledge acts as a lead into many areas of study at third level:    
Scientific, Sociological, Economic, Development Studies, Environment or Skills and Research based studies.
2. As a springboard towards a wide range of careers:
   Engineering and Construction                     Market Research
   Architecture and Planning                             Geology
   Meteorology or Cartography                          Conservation
   Environmental Management                         Real Estate
   Travel, Tourism, Transport                             Social Science
   Third World Areas                                             Design
   Agriculture, Teaching, Forestry                       Economics
To name but a few…….!             
3. Geography is accepted as a Science subject for entry to T.C.D.
4. Over ninety-five per cent of students sit Higher Level papers. With application and motivation a student can expect good Higher Level grades in geography.
A new syllabus was introduced into all secondary schools in September 2004 to make history more approachable, more stimulating and more interesting.

Syllabus Framework: two inter-linking parts:

a)      Working with evidence
b)      Topics for study.
1.      Working with evidence
a)      Introduction: history and the historian: -
Students will be given an introduction to the nature of history and the work of the historian. This will form the basis for future work on the topics, the document based study and the research study.
b)      A document based study:-
Students will undertake a document based study of one of the syllabus topics as the primary means of developing their skills in working with evidence.
c)      A research study:-
Students will undertake a research study of a significant historical subject chosen by the student as a means of developing their research skills. This is worth 20% of a student’s final grade.
2.      Topics for study
In St Andrew’s College, we study the Later Modern period, 1815 – 1993. 
There are six modules on the history of Ireland and six modules on the history of Europe and the wider world.
The Six modules on Irish history are:
  1. Ireland and the Union, 1815-1870
  2. Movements for political and social reform 1870-1914                                  
  3. The pursuit of sovereignty and the impact of partition 1912-1949                    
  4. The Irish Diaspora 1840-1966         
  5. Politics and Society in Northern Ireland, 1949-1993
  6. Government, economy and society in the Republic of Ireland, 1949-1989
Students will complete 2 of the above modules.
The six modules on the history of Europe and the wider world are:
  1. Nationalism and state formation in Europe, 1815-1871
  2. Nation states and international tensions, 1871-1920
  3. Dictatorship and democracy, 1920-1945
  4. Division and realignment in Europe, 1945-1990
  5. European retreat from empire and the aftermath, 1945-1990
  6. The United States and the world, 1945-1989
For the Leaving Certificate examination 2012 and 2013, the prescribed module for the document based study is 5: European retreat from empire and the aftermath, 1945-1990. This will be examined by a document based question in the leaving certificate worth 20%. Along with topic 5, students will complete one other module on the history of Europe and the wider World.
The Final examination is made up of four sections, one on each module worth 20%. There is one document based question and three essay style questions.
A research study report in submitted in the April before the Leaving Certificate examinations, this report is worth 20%.
Why study History? A future with your past
History helps us to understand many of the issues that affect the world today. Students will develop an appreciation of the society in which we live and of other societies, past and present.
The study of history is about interpreting the past by studying both primary and secondary sources. History helps students to present their views in an organized, coherent and logical way. Students learn to support their views with relevant evidence.
History is relevant for a variety of careers, in fields such as education, government agencies, legal, businesses, newspapers and magazines, the film industry, museums, archives and libraries. All of these careers require the skills of research, analysis, and writing which are developed when studying history.
A student who is motivated, works hard and practices essay writing should gain good grades on the Higher Level examination paper.  
Home Economics - Scientific and Social is an applied subject combining theory with practice in order to develop understanding and solve problems. It is concerned with the way individuals and families manage their resources to meet physical, emotional, intellectual, social and economic needs.
Home Economics focuses on the acquisition of knowledge and the development of skills and attitudes that will enable students to take control of their lives at present and in the future, whether that be in the home, in further education, in the world of work, or other life situations.
The wide-range of learning experiences to which the students are exposed will allow them to be flexible and adaptable in the changing situations of modern life.
It prepares students of both sexes for life in a consumer-oriented society and provides a learning foundation for those seeking employment in a wide range of careers, such as the food industry, tourism, clothing and design, and the health and social services.
The Home Economics syllabus has been revised and the new syllabus introduced in November 2002 had its first examination in June 2004. The new syllabus brings changes in structure and format, approaches and emphasis, as well as content.
Syllabus Structure
The syllabus consists of a core and three electives.
The core consists of three areas:
            Food Studies                                                               45%
            Resource Management and Consumer Studies 25%
            Social Studies                                                             10%
There are three electives from which the teacher and the class group must choose one. The electives are extensions of content contained in the core and provides students with the opportunity to study certain topics in more depth.
The electives are:
            Home Design and Management
            Textiles, Fashion and Design                                      20%
            Social Studies
Assessment Format
(1)    Written examination and (2) Food Studies Assignment Journal (assessment of practical coursework. 20% of overall grade)
For the Leaving Certificate, Home Economics carries full recognition for third level points.
Students often think of Physics as a difficult subject and that to cope with it you need higher Mathematics. A high level of Mathematics is not needed but Physics' teachers agree that a good understanding of Mathematics is essential so that the pupil can manipulate the formula and appreciate the mathematical models. What the subject also needs is a good imagination and an interest in all physical phenomena. Regular homework has to be done to practice solving problems and to satisfy the Department of Education that sufficient experimental work has been done.
Physics does not involve the learning of a large amount of factual material. It does involve knowing, and understanding thoroughly, a relatively small number of laws and principles that seem to govern and explain all other phenomena and then solving problems relating to those phenomena.
The Mathematics at this level is Ordinary Level but for those aiming specifically at Physics at third level, Higher Maths is essential.
The Leaving Certificate course ranges over topics such as: forms of energy, light and optics, wave motion in all phenomena, current electricity, electronics, atomic physics, mechanics and so on. Anyone who is interested should look at some of the text books for the subject.
Physics is fundamental to all engineering and electronics work. Students wishing to take these subjects at Degree level should check with the Guidance Counsellors about entry qualifications. Meteorology, Aviation, Radiography, Naval Officer all need physics.
Practically all science, engineering or technological courses at third level require either physics, chemistry or biology.
A knowledge of physics could be extremely useful in many of the new industries setting up in Ireland. According to the Confederation of Irish Industry, 'Physics' is crucial in many of the electronics based industries which is the fastest growing sector.
2004 saw the introduction of a new Leaving Certificate Chemistry syllabus. This course builds on what you have done in the General Science course in the Junior Cycle.
The core area of the course includes topics such as:
Periodic Table and Atomic Structure
Chemical Bonding
Volumetric Analysis
Fuels and Heats of Reaction
Rates of Reaction
Organic Chemistry
Chemical Equilibrium
Environmental Chemistry and Water
There are in addition two options from which the student must choose one:
1)         Additional Industrial Chemistry with Atmospheric Chemistry, including a case study.
2)         Materials with Electrochemistry and the Extraction of Metals.
One third of this new syllabus is dedicated to the Social and Applied Aspects of Chemistry. Many of what were previously considered as mathematically or conceptually difficult topics from the old syllabus have been removed. This is designed so as to make Chemistry more accessible and interesting for students. The new course also includes a list of Mandatory Experiments that must be completed by the students and incorporates structured visits to a local chemistry plant and also a water treatment plant. More details regarding the new syllabus are available from the Chemistry Department.
Chemistry is strongly recommended for those interested in a career in Medicine, Pharmacy, Dentistry, Veterinary, Chemical Engineering, Forensics, Medical Laboratory Technician and General Laboratory Technician. It also forms part of General Science and Nursing courses.
A growing number of Chemists are employed in industry, either in production, research or in quality control. There are many opportunities for school leavers at ordinary production floor level and the chances of promotion are undoubtedly much greater for the young person with some grasp of the scientific processes involved. There are also jobs as assistants in laboratories either in industry or research laboratories.
In 2004 the Department of Education and Science introduced a new syllabus for biology in the Leaving Certificate. The emphasis is now more on the relevance of biology to the present day rather than the study of individual 'type' animal and plants, and thus there is a concentration on such topics as genetic engineering, human physiology and health, and ecology.
A new introduction is a practical course which involves the performing of some 24 mandatory experiments which are to be written up as a portfolio, and will carry a percentage of the final mark for the Leaving Certificate examination.
Biology is relevant to careers in medicine, dentistry, veterinary science, nursing, physiotherapy and medical and ecological research. 

Syllabus Structure

(1) Listening        -           Prescribed works (4) - classical and pop                    

-  Irish Music

-  Aural Skills                                                               25%                                                                                              

(2) Composing     -           Melody writing, setting words to music                    

- Harmony - classical and popular idioms

- Counterpoint - adding descants, counter melodies   25%

(3)  Performing    -           Singing/playing individually or Singing/|playing in a group  or rehearsing and conducting a group and sight reading or aural memory test or improvisation

- 3 pieces (approximately Grade V standard) or 2 different instruments - 3 pieces Grade III approximately        25%   

(4) Students may select from Listening, Composing, Music Technology or Performing electives for a further 25%



In August 2007 the Department of Education and Science introduced this new syllabus to Leaving Certificate students. This course will prove extremely beneficial to students contemplating a career in Engineering, Architecture or Design. This subject follows on from Technical Graphics at Junior Certificate Level and therefore is only suitable for those students who have previously studied Technical Graphics.

As the name implies Design and the processes involved form a core part of this subject. Students also learn how to use graphics or drawing as a means of communicating ideas. In addition to completing work using traditional pencil and paper techniques, a large emphasis is now placed on utilizing Solidworks, a CAD software.

Our dedicated Design Room is fully equipped for this subject and features 20 computers, a data projector with sound system and an A3 colour printer.

This new course is assessed on a 3 hour exam at the end of 6th year and also on a design project, which will entail approximately 40 hours of in-class time during 6th year. The exam counts for 60% of the final mark with the design project accounting for the remaining 40%.

Further information can be obtained on


Religious Education is one of the newest subjects on the Leaving Certificate course and as a result its content has been geared to interest the student. It was introduced in 2003, first examined in 2005 and St. Andrew’s College has been providing it as an option for Leaving Certificate students since 2006.

 The course covers a diverse range of topics, including World Religions, Moral Decision Making, Issues of Justice & Peace and Religion & Science. These subjects allow the students to broaden their knowledge of the world through the ideas of faith, philosophy and secularism.

 In 5th year the students are set a prescribed course work, chosen by the Department of Education from two of the ten subject areas, which is worth 20% of their final mark. This will be fully completed in 5th year thus allowing them more time to study for the exam in 6th year.

Religious Education is an interesting, relevant and fascinating course, which uniquely covers topics, such as spirituality, that you will not find in any other Leaving Certificate subject. It is therefore worthy of your consideration.