Careers rarely develop the way we plan them. Our career path often takes many twists and turns, with particular events, choices and people influencing our direction.

We asked Martin Dunn from Failte Ireland to give some advice for people considering this job:


Martin Dunn

Activities Manager

Failte Ireland

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  Martin Dunn
  • Qualities & Values - Patience, hard work, like meeting people, enjoy providing good customer service, desire to do a good job for yourself and your employer 
  • Client Skills - Qualification both education qualifications and practical ability to the job
  • Interests - to be generally interested in the field you are working in. I think that it is easy for people to look at the job and think its great and must be loads of fun because you get to go on the high ropes all the time. That is just a small part of the job and generally you are watching others having fun and playing on the activities and you only go on them to do staff training or to do safety checks. You must also be prepared for the paper work that goes along with a job where you are responsible for that safety of people and this cannot be overlooked.

Administrative people are interested in work that offers security and a sense of being part of a larger process. They may be at their best operating under supervisors who give clear guidelines, and performing routine tasks in a methodical and reliable way.

They tend to enjoy clerical and most forms of office work, where they perform essential administrative duties. They often form the backbone of large and small organisations alike. They may enjoy being in charge of office filing systems, and using computers and other office equipment to keep things running smoothly. They usually like routine work hours and prefer comfortable indoor workplaces.
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Education and Training

Marks Distribution 2014:
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Listed below are the percentage distributions of marks from the 5399 students who sat the Higher level Physics exam in 2014.

Listed below are the percentage distributions of marks from the 1778 students who sat the Ordinary level Physics exam in 2014.

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Senior Cycle - Physics

Subject Group: Science
These subjects demonstrate how to explore nature using carefully planned methods, and teach the basic methods and findings of scientific investigation.

What is Physics?

The Leaving Cert physics course follows directly from Junior Cert Science, and covers more topics in greater depth. Physics is often referred to as the maths side of science even though only a small proportion of the course is based on this.

Physics aims to enhance students ability to think logically, observe and understand scientific method. The course is heavily based around experiments - students are required to complete and write reports of 24 practical experiments throughout the two years, and be fully aware of how to accurately record and analyse results, and how to minimise and accomodate for experimental errors.

These laboratory experiments, along with many more non-compulsory experiments are examined in detail on a section of the written paper.

Interested in Physics? Watch the Video above to see if the course is likely to interest you. Aoibhinn Ni Shuilleabhain

The Physics course also involves a lot of theory which is tested on the written examination. Students are expected to be able to use various formulae with respect to SI units and significant figures, and have a good understanding of the role of physics in modern society and technology.

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What type of student might Physics suit? 

  • Students considering a career in any mathematical or scientific discipline, such as finance, statistics, engineering, physics, astronomy or computer science.
  • Students who were successful in their Junior Cert science examination, particularly in the Physics section of the course.

Careers Possibilities

Students who are interested in the following careers would be advised to study Physics: Electrician, Optician, Doctor, Dentist, Engineer, Computer Technician and Programmer.

Third Level Entry Requirements
Physics is a requirement for entry into a number of third level courses. Some examples include: Theoretical Physics  in UCD and TCD. Click on the link below to view courses that definitely requires, or may require this subject for entry:

CAO Entry Requirements [Source: Qualifax]

Note: Click on each course title to view the exact requirements for any course listed.

Podcast: Listen to an Audio Podcast on Preparing for Leaving Cert Physics 
Duration: 15 mins [Source -] 

Physics and Careers

Physics contributes to a student’s future career in many ways. It helps, in conjunction with the other Leaving Certificate subjects, to provide a broad, balanced education for any student. Physics teaches students to think logically and enables them to express their thoughts in a concise manner. The skills and knowledge developed through their study of physics can be useful in a wide variety of situations.

Physics is a useful subject for many courses and careers and a good foundation for a broad range of scientific and technical careers. Many careers benefit from the logical and numeracy skills developed by the study of physics. Many technical courses involve components of physics.

Students may move into employment or into further study following their two years of physics at secondary school level. They may choose a Post Leaving Certificate course (PLC) or move on into third level.

Physics and physics-related courses may be taken at both certificate and degree level in third-level institutions.

For students who are interested in proceeding further with physics, check out our sector on Physical and Mathematical Sciences, and also the Institute of Physics, which provides information on the range of careers that students can follow after their study of physics at third level. 

Subject Content

The study of Physics for Leaving Cerificate is broken down into eight sections or topic areas: 

(a) Six compulsory sections
(b) Two option sections (Higher paper only, one to be done)

Compulsory sections
1. Optics / Waves: the study of light and sound and real life applications of the theory.

2. Mechanics: time, space, distance, speed and acceleration.

3. Heat: changes of state, energy conversions and mathematical problems.

4. Electricity: develops on from simple circuits to more detailed concepts.

5. Electricity and Magnetism: gravity, relationship between electricity and magnetism, study of how a motor works, ac. and dc. circuits and phenomena with real world applications.

6. Atomic Physics: cathode rays, x-rays, radioactive decay, fission and fusion, nuclear reactors and real world applications.

Option sections
1. Particle Physics: recent type of physics, delving into the new discoveries leading to a better understanding of the formation of the universe and where we came from.

2. Applied Electricity: detailed study of electricity and the working of a motor developing from electricity already studied.

At Higher Level, there is a deeper, more quantitative treatment of physics.  The two option sections are omitted from the Ordinary Level Leaving Certificate course.

The course also consists of 24 core mandatory experiments complimenting each section in an aim to develop students’ technical skills and enhance understanding and reinforce key concepts.

Exam Structure

Leaving Certificate Physics is assessed by means of one terminal examination paper at each level.  Students are required to keep a record of their practical work over the two years of the course. 

The Leaving Cert Physics exam is three hours in duration:

Section A:

  • Answer 3 out of 4 questions
  • 120 marks: 40 marks per question
  • Questions are based on experimental procedures and use of results

Section B:

  • Answer 5 out of 8 questions
  • 280 marks: 56 marks per question
  • Questions are more broad and theory based


While there is an element of maths in the physics course, honours maths is not a requirement to do honours physics.  Students should not avoid physics on the basis of not having honours maths.  It is entirely possible to get on well in honours physics without honours maths.

Pupils should become able to draw and read graphs and be competent in using a calculator throughout the course.  The physics syllabus has strong links with the other science subjects especially chemistry.  There are strands of physics which overlap with woodwork and construction especially the electricity and heat sections.

Pupils who will gain the most from studying physics are those who have an interest in science at Junior Cert level and those who enjoy learning about how things work.  The science, technology and society section allows students the chance to see where the physics they are learning applies as in TVs, car motors and electricity in the home and also, to see some of the industrial applications of certain topics.

Data Sources: The information on these pages has been compiled from a variety of sources including the NCCA, Newbridge College / Brian Howard, Dept. of Education & Skills, and student interviews. Information in the 'People who took this subject' section reflects the views of those people interviewed on this website and is offered as informal and potentially useful information only.

While attempts to keep this information as up to date and accurate as possible, we do not accept any responsibility for the accuracy of this information or decisions made on the basis of this information. Students should always discuss subject options with parents / guardians / guidance counsellors..
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People who took this subject... 56
Read what others say about their Leaving Cert. Subject Choices...
Sub Lieutenant - Navy - David Fleming
David Fleming, Defence Forces

For my Leaving Certificate I took the subjects, French, Geography and Business. Prior to applying for my cadetship I found out that I required a Science subject which I took up in my Leaving Certificate. 

A lot of my training and education through the Navy todate has been Maths and Science based particularly Physics. If I had a choice again I would have gone down this line in school to give me a better foundation. The subjects I chose just made everything slightly harder.

Development Analyst - John Traynor
John Traynor , CRH plc Physics, History, Geography, and French were my options for my Leaving Cert. Physics was one of the subjects that I was most interested in school, and this had a lot of influence on my decision to study electronic engineering in college. 
Manufacturing Engineer - Lynsey Gargan
Lynsey Gargan, STEPS In school I was limited by the amount of subjects offered. I went to an all girl's convent school and they had pretty much the stereotypical girl's school subjects then.

For my optional subjects I did Geography, H&E Social and Scientific and Biology. I had all the regular subjects too. English, Irish, Maths and French. I think it's fairly obvious from the above list that my subjects didn't have much of a influence over my third level education choices.

If subjects like physics, engineering etc., had been on offer, I think I would have taken them instead but they were not available to me. I don't believe choices made in school about subjects always have to dictate what you do in college. In my case it just meant I had to work a little harder in the first year of college to catch up.

My school subjects never stopped me. If you know what you like and what you want do, you will always find a way. To be honest it's the knowing what you like that's harder, there are lots of paths to achieve what you want in education today. 
Ink Chemist - Fiona Coyle
Fiona Coyle, Hewlett-Packard

As I chose my subjects for Leaving Cert I had already identified that it was Science that I wanted to pursue. For Leaving Cert I took Chemistry, Physics and Economics as my choice subjects. My dad was concerned that I was placing all my eggs in one basket!...but in hindsight it was a good choice for me.

In university I continued to study Physics, Chemistry and Maths in first and second year. I then specialised in Science of Materials that incorporated, physical and inorganic chemistry; semiconductor electronics; physics and material science. I then studied for a Ph.D in the Physics Department and specialised in Polymer Physics which is very close to both Physics and Chemistry disciplines.

To date my interest in science has been correct for me! It is what I am good at and enjoy and I earn a living from these interests. The only thing I would have done differently is I would have studied a foreign language. It does not affect my career but I do wish that I had a language such as French or German. It also effected my choice of university at the time I could not attend any of the NUI colleges as I did not meet the minimum criteria of English, Irish and another language.

Engineer - Carbon - Chloe Kinsella
Chloe Kinsella, ESB

My subjects in school were the compulsory English, Irish, maths and then I chose French, physics, chemistry and applied mathematics. All of my subjects were at higher level.

Maths, physics, applied maths and chemistry were definitely beneficial for an engineering degree.

However in hindsight I wish I had taken one business related subject like economics or accountancy.

While my degree was engineering, in the work place I am exposed to a lot of business and I regularly work with financial models.

Engineer - Process - John Smith
John Smith, Intel

Like most young people at the time of picking Leaving Certificate subjects I was completely undecided as to what I wanted to do so I kept my options open by choosing a Business subject - Business organisation, Science subject - Physics & Chemistry, language - German. After two years of science for Leaving Cert it was then I realised that I wanted to pursue a career in physical sciences.

The one disadvantage I had in starting college was that I hadn't studied Biology before (which was compulsory in first year college science) so straight away I needed to pay more attention to this subject in 1st year science. Had I known when picking leaving cert subjects that I wanted to pursue a career in physical sciences then Biology would have been a wise choice.

My PhD was in the area of physical chemistry (as opposed to organic/inorganic where most graduates end up in the pharmaceutical sector) and most of the chemistry associated with semiconductor processing is physical so it was a wise choice!

Hotel Manager - Liam Doyle
Liam Doyle, Failte Ireland They didn’t!

I took honours Engineering, honours Physics, and honours Chemistry. The other subject I had was Technical Drawing.

If I was to do it again, I would do French and Home Economics, and the Engineering because it did help me in this role, and probably Business. I would take more on the finance side if I knew I was taking this route. 
Computer Programmer - Jason Ruane
Jason Ruane, Intel

In secondary school I took Physics and Chemistry since I loved science. I also took Business Organisation but that was for the life skills it teaches rather than an intrinsic desire. I would gladly have enjoyed doing all the science subjects, to the complete detriment of all others but in hind-sight I am glad I took a subject such as Biz. Org. as it gave a rounding aspect to my secondary schooling.

I would have liked to have done Technical Drawing possibly but had to make a choice. I was only mediocre in German and Irish but again am glad I did them for at least secondary school as it challenged me and I did not get too narrowly focused on the technical subjects (there was plenty of time for that in third-level). In hindsight I realise that Maths was more important than I imagined and the two science subjects stood me in good stead. The choices I made for the subject selection was made by my passion for the sciences. Luckily I was afforded this leeway as the points for my intended course were not particularly high at the time.

Chemical Engineer - Colm Hofler
Colm Hofler, CRH plc I took Chemistry, Physics, Applied Maths, Technical drawing and French. It then seemed pretty natural to choose engineering in college. If I could choose again I may have chosen something more business orientated like finance or economics. 
Structural Engineer - Louise Lynch
Louise Lynch, ESB

The subjects I did in school didn't help much with my career path. The only subject I did do that was useful to me career was honours maths. As I didn't have the required subjects to get into my desired course, I did an extra year - a bridging year - Preliminary Engineering.

There are always other ways to get into courses so if you have your heart set on engineering but don't have the required subjects, look into courses like Preliminary Engineering or other bridging courses. If you haven't chosen your leaving cert subjects yet, some of the subjects that will assist you in an engineering degree is honours maths, physics, chemistry and mechanics/applied maths.

Junior Cycle Subjects  Junior Cycle Subjects
Leaving Cert Subjects  Leaving Cert Subjects

 Leaving Cert Subjects Guide to Subject Choice
 Leaving Cert Subjects Exam Papers
 Leaving Cert Subjects Marking Schemes 

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