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 Marie Kinsella-White from McDonald's to give some advice for people considering this job:


Marie Kinsella-White

Operations Consultant


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  Marie Kinsella-White
The job that I do is highly specialised and the skills that I am required to have to do my job can only be acquired in our restaurant. However, by taking a job in McDonald's you are opening a career path to use those skills anywhere - the skills you acquire are very transferable. It doesn’t matter where you start, the opportunities are there.

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.

Physics describes the laws and forces that govern natural phenomena. This subject aims to enhance students ability to think logically, observe and understand scientific method. It offers a general education in physics for all students, enabling them to develop an understanding of the scientific method and their ability to observe, to think logically, and to communicate effectively. Science, technology and society (STS) is an integral part of the syllabus so that students can be aware of the principles of the applications of physics in the everyday world.

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...
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. 
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. 
Energy Manager - Jonathan Pugsley
Jonathan Pugsley, Sustainable Energy Authority

Science Subjects: Maths, Physics, Biology, Tech drawing, Chemistry  - I loved these and they are very applicable for my current career path.

Data analysis and problem solving - it's all about number crunching at the end of the day when working on technical problems.

Arts, English, English Literature and French are subjects I was never really interested in at school, but have become more interested in the last 10 years, as they are very useful for communication purposes, and that is now a very big part of my job.

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.
Materials Engineer - Angie O'Keeffe
Angie O'Keeffe, Hewlett-Packard

Being the youngest in our family I got lots of advice from my older siblings when picking my subjects in school. I took a broad spectrum to give me a bigger career choice later so I ended up with the usual subjects Irish, English, Maths, French, and then chose Chemistry, Business Organisation and Music.

In hindsight I should have done Physics instead of Music, but I did get a good appreciation of the great composers, listened to some fantastic music for those two years and got to play in the school orchestra. I got to do Physics in college later. Chemistry was my favourite subject and we had great labs so it made my transition to Science in UCD really easy. I loved Maths too though I still struggle with the demons of statistics but there is always people around to help with that, even to this day.

Compliance Manager - Louise Keane
Louise Keane, PharmaChemical Ireland I studied general science for Junior certificate and biology for leaving certificate. In first year of the third level science course all science subjects - biology, chemistry, and physics were covered in addition to maths.

While I did not complete the subjects for leaving certificate I did pass all subjects at the end of first year. The modules in each subject were covered at a more basic level for the leaving certificate and in some cases the subject matter was the same.

I did feel that if I had studied Chemistry in school it would have been of benefit to me in third level. However it did not hinder my career once I started employment in the industry. 
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.

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. 
Potter - Ray Power
Ray Power, Design & Crafts Council of Ireland Art, Physics, Accountancy along with the compulsary ones. 
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. 
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