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 Natasha Ibanez from CRH plc to give some advice for people considering this job:


Natasha Ibanez

Mechanical Engineer

CRH plc

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  Natasha Ibanez
An education in Mechanical Engineering would be preferable. I would advise them to get as much diverse work experiences as possible, even if these jobs are not engineering related.

Realists are usually interested in 'things' - such as buildings, mechanics, equipment, tools, electronics etc. Their primary focus is dealing with these - as in building, fixing, operating or designing them. Involvement in these areas leads to high manual skills, or a fine aptitude for practical design - as found in the various forms of engineering.

Realists like to find practical solutions to problems using tools, technology and skilled work. Realists usually prefer to be active in their work environment, often do most of their work alone, and enjoy taking decisive action with a minimum amount of discussion and paperwork.
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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 student's 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 accommodate 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 Certificate 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...
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.

Science Communicator - Brian Macken
Brian Macken, Smart Futures In secondary school I studied physics, and I did applied maths after school hours as an extra subject. This was perfect for me, as I was good at math subjects, but rubbish at languages, so the applied maths compensated for the bad grades I got in Irish and German.

The best advice I can give about choosing subjects is to pick the ones that you find most interesting. If you do that, and then do likewise in college, you're far more likely to end up in a subject-area that you are actually interested in 
Mechanical Engineer - Afra Ronayne
Afra Ronayne, ESB In school apart from the three basics of English, Irish and Maths I also took German, Accounting, Physics and Chemistry. Although Physics and Chemistry were not needed to get into the engineering course it was beneficial to have them as we had to take these subjects in first year.

However, I did not do technical drawing so I had to start this from scratch in first year of college so most people have at least one subject that they have never done before. 
Mechanical Engineer - Natasha Ibanez
Natasha Ibanez , CRH plc We had no Physics, Chemistry and other technical subjects in the school I attended, which would have been useful for my career development.  I did however have the opportunitiy to study Honours Maths in preparation for my current career.

In hindsight I would have looked for the opportunitiy to at least study Applied Maths, which would have made it easier to go through first year in college.

I am delighted I went to UCD, where it was possible to do one common year before choosing the Engineering discipline. 
QA Manager - Michael Bohane
Michael Bohane, PharmaChemical Ireland My Leaving Cert subjects were Irish, English, Maths, French, Chemistry, Biology and Business Organisation.  My main interest was science so I chose two science subjects and one business related subject to keep things interesting.

My subjects were appropriate for my University course except I was required to take Physics in the first year. This was quite challenging not having taken Physics to Leaving Cert but not impossible. I don't think I would do anything differently if I had to repeat the process. 
Pharmacist - Rachel Berry
Rachel Berry, Health Service Executive

For GCSE I studied Maths, Additional Maths, Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Geography, English Language and Literature and German.

For A-Level I took Maths, Chemistry and Biology. I chose these subjects primarily because I was good at them and also because I enjoyed them. The school I attended was very academic and I always knew my future career would involve science of some description so the choices I made were logical.

I do regret not continuing on with art, although at the time I wasn't sure I could spare the time to commit to an extra subject that wasn't really going to come in useful. I guess you just have to weigh up costs and benefits. I found it very helpful to have a good grasp of statistics and pure maths as these topics came up quite alot during the pharmacy degree.

If you are thinking of taking a degree in pharmacy make sure you look at the admission requirements in good time as they can be quite specific and I know the grades are increasing every year so you need to be sure you are capable of making the grades.

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. 
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. 
IQ Engineer - Darryl Day
Darryl Day, Intel Physics and Maths were probably the two most helpful subjects I studied in school. Problem solving and analytical skills are essential in any engineering or science role and these subjects actively develop these strengths. 
Potter - Ray Power
Ray Power, Design & Crafts Council of Ireland Art, Physics, Accountancy along with the compulsary ones. 
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