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 Dr Jan Steiner from Health Service Executive to give some advice for people considering this job:


Dr Jan Steiner


Health Service Executive


  Dr Jan Steiner
Try and get as much practical experience before entering the job as possible.

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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School & College Education - <p>This section has information on Primary, Secondary and Third Level education in Ireland</p>
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Third Level - <p>This section has information on Third Level Education in Ireland</p>
Fourth Level - <p>This section has information on postgraduate opportunities available in Ireland</p>
Adult Education - <p>This section has information on adult and continuing education, including PLC, professional, and short courses</p>

Marks Distribution 2013:
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Listed below are the percentage distributions of marks from the 4832 students who sat the Higher level Physics exam in 2013.

Listed below are the percentage distributions of marks from the 1616 students who sat the Ordinary level Physics exam in 2013.

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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... 59
Read what others say about their Leaving Cert. Subject Choices...
Property Manager - Ivan Magee
Ivan Magee, Lidl I studied all the normal subects as well as Construction studies, Engineering, Physics and Business. I think all of these subjects helped me to shape my career path. However, I do regret not taking up a language as there are many ways in which they can be useful in employment. For example German is a particularly useful language in this company for obvious reasons. However, we deal with quite a few German contractors also where to speak their language gives you much more respect when you are dealing or negotiating with them. 
Engineer - Process - Kerrie Horan
Kerrie Horan, Intel

Subjects I look were Chemistry, Technical Drawing, Business Studies and German for my Leaving Cert.  All of which I have used since and believe it or not business aspects including accounting are an integral part of engineering

I would say that Physics and Applied Maths would have come in very useful as it was tough entering an Engineering Degree without having either of these.

Electronic Engineer - Shane Callanan
Shane Callanan, Smart Futures When in I was in school I didn’t really have a definite career plan. However I did prefer the Science subjects in general over languages or Business type subjects. Along with the obligatory subjects, I continued with Physics, Chemistry and Honours Maths for my leaving certificate, not so much as a conscious career choice but because I liked them. However as it turned out these all helped me during my course, and they tied in with my career choice. 
Merchandising Manager - Barry Kelly
Barry Kelly, Lidl

I chose the usual subjects and also did Economics, Physics and French. There wasn't much choice in the leaving cert with subjects but if you wanted to do any extra subjects you would have to do them on your own time after school. But, as I was working part time before and after school I decided not to take on any extra stress.

I completed transition year in 4th year and found that to be hugely beneficial and gave me an appetite for things more practical as opposed to academic. I didn't base my choice on career and went with the ones I thought I could do well in, and get decent marks.

I completed a 1 year certificate course, four years after my leaving cert, in  the area of Purchasing and Materials Management (IIPMM) which was for the company I worked for at the time, and which is still relevant for me now on a daily basis.

I have to say that school is great but the best thing I ever did was to start working at a young age. I started working on a bread delivery van aged 14 which meant getting up at 4.30 in the morning to deliver fresh bread to all the supermarkets in town. It gave me independence and responsibility at a young age and I gained great experience while at school. I studied German language for a year in school but gave it up then, looking back I should have kept it on, maybe I'll start it again some day...

Shift Manager - Richard Storey
Richard Storey, McDonald's In school I studied the basic subjects, English, Irish, Maths. I also took French Physics and Biology. These subjects stood to me in my course choice as Biology is essential in understanding how the body works when undertaking a fitness course. As we have come into difficult times recently people have zipped up their pockets and are not renewing their gym memberships, therefore leaving me struggling to obtain a job in this industry. If I could change anything I would have opted for a trade in carpentry or an electrician. 
Garda - Ronan Quinn
Ronan Quinn, An Garda Síochána For my Leaving Certificate I did English, Irish, Maths, French, Geography, Home Economics, Economics and Physics. In hindsight I would have done nothing differently, as there are no really ideal subjects for a career in An Garda Síochána.
Planetary Scientist - Caitriona Jackman
Caitriona Jackman, Smart Futures

For Leaving Certificate I did the usual English, Irish, Maths, then Physics which I loved, Chemistry which I wasn’t great at (kept breaking stuff in the practicals), French, Geography and Music as an extra. I really enjoyed English actually, and even though a lot of my job involves computer programming and some hard maths and physics, I still rely heavily on my writing skills.

As important as it is to have technical ability in my job, it is still crucial to be able to communicate any results I find. One of the main tasks for me is to write papers for scientific journals, and occasionally to write articles for a more general audience.

My French is also useful because I collaborate with several people from a lab in Paris and they like if I make an effort to speak a bit of French, even though my accent is very embarrassing!

HR Business Partner  - Sarah Lynch
Sarah Lynch, Bank of Ireland

English - Irish - Maths - French - Economics - Geography – Physics; I took 7 subjects for my Leaving Certificate.


I didn't really have any idea of what I wanted to do after school so I kept my options open by taking a science subject, a business subject and a language.


In hindsight, that was not the best decision I have ever made as it turns out I hated Physics and wasn't that good at it either.


I decided to go down the Business Studies route after that so if I had to do it all again I would probably take Accounting or a business type subject and keep focused on one thing, instead of a bit of everything.

Chef - David Kehoe
David Kehoe, Failte Ireland Maths, English, French, Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Home Economics. All of them influenced my career as I need all of them eg. without maths I couldn't deal with the financial part of the job. 
Professional Forester - Paulina Pawlukojc
Paulina Pawlukojc, Coillte

I always loved biology, chemistry and languages and I was quite good at these subjects. I never really liked maths and physics but I knew that environmental studies and forestry had some technical and engineering elements. That is why I chose these subjects as the main ones during my college years.

For my final exams, which are equivalent to the Irish Leaving Certificate, I choose Biology and English. At this stage I didn’t even know how important this language would become in my future life and career.

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