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 Sarah Behan from Lidl to give some advice for people considering this job:


Sarah Behan

Trainee Retail Manager


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  Sarah Behan
I think that you need to be an organised social person to be successful in this position. You need to be able to work with and for people. You need to be flexible and remember two very important things: there is no I in team and the customer is king! If you can keep these two principles in mind and work hard you can do very well here.

The Investigative person will usually find a particular area of science to be of interest. They are inclined toward intellectual and analytical activities and enjoy observation and theory. They may prefer thought to action, and enjoy the challenge of solving problems with clever technology. They will often follow the latest developments in their chosen field, and prefer mentally stimulating environments.
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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... 59
Read what others say about their Leaving Cert. Subject Choices...
Detective - Frank Keenaghan
Frank Keenaghan, An Garda Síochána English, Irish, French, Maths, Physics, Chemistry, History. I had no idea what I wanted to do when I chose the subjects I did. I am glad I chose Honours Irish as it enabled me to enter An Garda Síochána, and French as I feel having another language is important.

Perhaps I should have taken up another language like German or Spanish instead of the science subjects as I do not see the relevance of these subjects to my career. 
Mechanical Engineer - Elaine McGarrigle
Elaine McGarrigle, CRH plc

After my Junior Certificate in secondary school, I chose to study Physics, Chemistry and Classical studies for the Leaving Certificate.

Physics gave me a basic understanding of mechanics, which I found very enjoyable and this influenced my decision to choose mechanical engineering.

Chemistry and Classical Studies were subjects that I found very enjoyable but did not really entice me to choose a career in those areas.

Engineering drawing provides a basic understanding in this area and this is a subject that I studied through-out my 5 years in college and use on a regular basis in my job.

I would recommend a student to study physics and engineering drawing and possibly metalwork as these subjects would best support mechanical engineering as a career.

However I believe that it is not imperitive to study these subjects or to excel in these areas to pursue a career in engineering. My first year in college involved learning the basics of many subjects including maths, mechanics and engineering drawing. This allowed those who were weak in those subjects to catch up.

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.
Process Engineer - Rebecca Tighe
Rebecca Tighe, Intel Physics, Biology, Higher level maths. I think physics and maths played a huge role in influencing my career decisions. Physics allowed me to develop an interest in understanding how things work and what the practical limitations on designs are. While maths allowed me to develop the logical thinking and problem solving skills which are essential to engineers in their every day jobs.  
Resource Teacher - Paul Galvan
Paul Galvan, Department of Education and Skills For my Leaving Certificate I studied English, Irish, Maths, Physics, French, Geography and History. My favourite subjects were Geography, Physics, French and English. I knew that I would like to study a combination of these subjects in further education. I think as regards a career path it’s a good idea to study subjects you like and are good at. 
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.

Electronic Engineer - Denis Canty
Denis Canty, STEPS My main subjects were Maths and Physics. Primarily because they teach you a lot about problem solving.  Also a transition year course in electronics and work experience in an electronic company also helped.

One aspect that I would change was that I did pass English as I thought I would not really need honours level. But I spend time on writing reports, for work and college, and emails, so good structured English writing is a key hidden skill. 
AITI Chartered Tax Adviser - Carol Kehoe
Carol Kehoe, Irish Tax Institute In school I chose accountancy - which was obviously relevant to my career. I also chose French, Physics and Geography - just in case accountancy wasn't for me!

When I finished my Leaving Cert, I chose the Accounting and Finance Degree in DCU and the Masters in Accounting after that. These courses were relevant for my chosen career, due to the fact that while studying to become a Registered Tax Consultant by doing the AITI exams, I also qualified as a Chartered Accountant. In hindsight, I would not have chosen differently. 
Potter - Ray Power
Ray Power, Design & Crafts Council of Ireland Art, Physics, Accountancy along with the compulsary ones. 
Design Engineer - Sinead Kenny
Sinead Kenny, Smart Futures I wasn’t 100% sure that I would end up in the science/engineering sector when I was at school. I found doing transition year really helped me to explore the various options that were available. This helped me to decide the subjects for my leaving certificate. I chose physics, chemistry & accounting, again keeping my options open. At the moment I am doing a masters for which I have to do aspects of accounting & economics so the accounting I did for my leaving has come in handy! 
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