Subject Choice – Senior Cycle

When choosing the subjects you are going to take in the Leaving Certificate it is important to consider the implications these choices may have on your future third level and career choices.

You might already know which subjects you enjoy or have some career ideas. Don’t worry if you don’t know what you want to do in the future. As long as you choose a good balance of subjects now, it should leave all your options open.

Just remember to consider all the facts and ask for help if you need it.

General Requirements for Third Level

A minimum of a grade D in English and Irish and a Third language is normally required for entry into UCD, UCC, NUI Galway and Maynooth University.

A minimum grade D in Mathematics is normally required for business, science and engineering courses.  Level 8 degrees may require higher level.

A language other then English is normally required for entry into TCD, UCC, UCD, NUI Galway and Maynooth University. Irish is not needed as an entry requirement for TCD, DCU, UL or any of the IT’s unless it is a specific course requirement.

A language other than English is not required for DCU, UL and the IT’s.

Check the specific entry requirements for specific courses e.g. subject and level/grade requirements on the Qualifax website.

If you are considering Medical, Paramedical, Nursing, Science or Engineering courses you should select a science subject (or two for some courses) e.g.

Medicine/Dentistry Courses – TCD : Higher Level Grade B3 and a Higher Level Grade C3 in two Laboratory sciences.

Medicine – UCD: Ordinary Level D3 any laboratory Science Subject (Higher Level C3 Chemistry for consideration for 5 years only).

Veterinary Medicine UCD : Requires a Higher Level Grade C3 in Chemistry.

Medicine – Royal College of Surgeons : A Higher Level Grade B3 in a laboratory science (Physics/Chemistry/Biology or Maths.)

Medicine/Dentistry Courses – UCC : Higher Level Grade C in Chemistry and a Higher Level Grade C in either Physics or Biology.

Human Nutrition/Medical Laboratory Science in D.I.T. : Requires a Higher Level Grade C in Chemistry in Leaving Certificate.

This is not an exhaustive list  and is constantly under review– please consult college website/prospectus.

Guidance Department Recommendations

Choose a subject you have an interest in or have enjoyed studying in the past.  Ask yourself:

  • What subject am I most interested in?
  • Which subjects am I likely to be best at?
  • What subjects will I need?

Choose a combination that will leave as many options open to you as possible for your future.

Research the subjects as much as you can before making a decision, speak to subject teachers and research specific entry requirements for third level courses you may be considering.

Consult the Guidance Counsellor.

Choose a subject and not a teacher.

Don’t choose a subject because you assume it is a ‘doss’ or an ‘easy’ option, there is no such thing!

Don’t choose a subject based on what you think your friends may be doing.

Choosing a Career

This task requires time and a lot of thought and exploration, it is not a decision that can be taken lightly.

There are many career choices to choose from.

Begin with self assessment, look at your values, interests, skills, personality traits, aptitudes etc.

Examine different Career Sectors E.g. (Animals & Veterinary Science, Security, Defence & Law Enforcement, Chemical, Biomedical & Pharmaceutical Sciences, Fashion & Beauty etc.)

Investigate different careers, look at skills/qualities needed, education requirements, Leaving Cert subjects etc, Attend career fairs, exhibitions and college open days, sampler days etc.

Examine the National Framework of Qualifications Visit college prospectuses, websites, career websites, job websites etc.

Consider your work experience and work shadowing (duties performed, skills required, training needed etc) Assess Irish Labour Market (skills shortages)

Consult your Guidance Counsellor

Useful Websites

National courses database – Qualifax: 
General careers website – Careers portal: 
Links to Irish colleges websites – CAO:
Links to British college websites – UCAS: 
Further Education: 
Apprenticeship & career information:
Information for students with disabilities: 
Admissions test for Medicine: 
Skills needs in Irish Economy: 
Careers in Engineering:
Careers in Tourism: 
Agricultural courses – Teagasc: 
Public Jobs: 
Information on grants, scholarships: 
Nursing courses – Nursing board: 
Military career information:
Careers in An Garda Síochána: 
Careers in Psychology:
Careers in Physiotherapy:
Careers in Science:
Careers in Dentistry:
Careers in Law:
Career as barrister-at-law: 
Careers in social work: 
Careers in Architecture:
Careers in Arts:
Careers in Teaching:
Studying abroad advice: 
Opportunities for study in Europe:
National Framework of Qualifications:
Educational website – Skoool: 
Educational website:
Study Techniques Advice: