top of page


Senior Cycle

At senior cycle, in St David’s Holy Faith Secondary School, we offer a wide range of subjects encompassing a broad diversity of skills and knowledge. We classify subjects here according to particular common skills between groups of subjects. There are eighteen subjects to choose from within the Leaving Certificate programme in the school. You will be required to do the three core subjects, English, Gaeilge (unless exempt) and Mathematics and choose four other subjects.

Core Subjects

These subjects explore the ways in which humans live and communicate in the world. Human life is examined by looking at our past, our present and into our future. These subjects help people to express themselves clearly and develop their reasoning ability. 


English is a core subject and is compulsory in all schools. The exams at both higher and ordinary level require students to sit two papers. Junior Certificate results are often a good indication of what level a student should choose for Senior Cycle English. A large number of students take English at higher level but you should not underestimate the amount of work required to obtain a high grade.

Irish is assessed at three levels: foundation level, ordinary level or higher level. The learner’s oral competency is assessed around Easter of the final year, in an oral examination worth 40%, at each level, of the overall mark. The other three skills; listening, speaking, reading and writing are assessed in June. Aspects of literary works must be studied at ordinary level, while at higher level these same works and additional material must be studied in greater detail

Higher level Maths is available to students who have completed higher level Junior Cycle Maths and achieved a Merit or higher in the Junior Cycle. Ordinary level Maths is offered to a minority of students. Twenty-five bonus points are awarded for higher level Mathematics at Grades H6 and above. The bonus points are included in the overall points calculation only when Mathematics is one of the applicant’s best six subjects following the addition of the bonus.

As part of fostering their social, cultural, physical & spiritual development, all Fifth and Sixth Year students follow a programme of Religious Education, for two periods per week. This explores a range of moral and social issues relevant to young adults. Religious Education also provides opportunities for personal development and reflection otherwise unavailable to students during this exam-oriented stage of their education. Religion is a non-examination subject. 


Physical Education in senior cycle will 

have one hour timetabled per week. It will centre around a games based and physical activity model that focuses on participation. We will utilise all school based facilities (indoor arena and school gym and our outdoor spaces). Senior P.E. will link with school wellbeing and will provide a non-exam based class where positive sporting interactions will occur.

5th Subject Choice Booklet 2022-23 (Submit).jpg

If you would like more information on subject choice, click on the image to the left ot downlaod the 2022/23 5th Year Subject Choice and College Guide. 

Humanities Group

These subjects explore the ways in which humans live and communicate in the world. Human life is examined by looking at our past, our present and into our future. These subjects help people to express themselves clearly and develop their reasoning ability. English and Irish are included in the humanities group and are mandatory subjects at second level. 


Leaving Certificate French aims to develop learners’ communicative skills in French, to develop their strategies for effective language learning and raise their awareness of cultural, social and political diversity.


Spanish follows a common syllabus framework for the teaching and examining of modern languages in the Leaving Certificate. The syllabus aims to develop learners’ communicative skills in Spanish, to develop their strategies for effective language learning and raise their awareness of cultural, social and political diversity.


The Leaving Certificate History Syllabus gives teachers a choice of four topics which will be studied from a selection of twelve topics in modern Irish and modern European history.

Science Group

These subjects demonstrate how to explore nature using carefully planned methods, and teach the basic methods and findings of scientific investigation. These subjects include Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and Applied Mathematics (offered outside of school hours).


If your chosen subject is biology you will gain an understanding of yourself and the natural world in which you live. The course uses practical activity and investigation to develop your skills and knowledge. The scope of biology is wide and varied and covers not only the traditional study of plants and animals but also areas such as molecular biology and biotechnology which have clear relevance to modern society.


The Leaving Cert. course follows on directly from Junior Cycle Science, and deals with more topics in a lot more depth. The course includes 28 mandatory practical experiments which must be completed in the lab, as well as a written paper including questions on the experiments and examining the theory and applications of chemistry. Chemistry has been the second most popular science subject for some time now.


The Leaving Cert Physics course follows directly from Junior Cycle 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 Maths. Physics aims to enhance the student’s ability to think logically, observe and understand scientific method.


The Applied Mathematics course at Leaving Certificate is called  ‘Theoretical Mechanics’ or ‘Mathematical Physics’ in third level courses. It is one of many branches of the more general field of
Applied Mathematics. We offer Applied Maths as an additional study and classes for Applied Mathematics occur outside of timetabled school hours.

Social Group

These subjects explore common issues faced by all people living in society. They develop the skills and knowledge used to manage personal resources and guide human behaviour. Subjects here consist of Geography, Home Economics, Physical
Education, Politics and Society, Religious Education (Non-Exam).


The subject is an applied subject combining theory with practice. It is concerned with the management of resources (material and human) to meet the physical, emotional, intellectual, social and economic needs of individuals and families. The study of Home Economics emphasises the interdependent relationships that exist between individuals, families and their immediate and distant environments.


Geography is a very popular subject choice. The course is divided into four units. Three of the units are core, mandatory units and one further unit is an elective unit. Patterns and Processes, Regional Geography and Geographical Investigation along with one other unit will be studied.


Politics and Society aims to develop the learner’s capacity to engage in reflective and active citizenship, informed by the insights and skills of social and political sciences. The changing local, national and global environment presents many challenges and opportunities for young people. It requires a range of skills, knowledge, values and attitudes so that they can achieve their goals in this environment.


Physical Education as an academic subject has a new specification at senior cycle. It was introduced in 2018 and is graded in the same way as other academic subjects in the Leaving Certificate. This course suits physically active students engaged in individual or team sports as well as activities such as dance and gymnastics. It requires good attention to detail and a willingness to study classroom sections of the course.

Artistic and Creative Group

Some of these subjects are ’hands-on’ and involve working with tools and machinery on physical things like wood, metals and plastic. They may involve designing, planning and building things. In our school, these include Construction Studies and Engineering. Other subjects involve developing creativity and the appreciation of the work of others. This involves learning the methods and techniques of the subject and producing your own work using these skills. This group of subjects include Art, and Design and Communication Graphics.


Engineering promotes an educational understanding of the materials and a knowledge of the processes associated with mechanical engineering. This is achieved through the development of skills and initiative in the planning, development and realization of technological projects in a safe manner.


Construction Studies introduces students to the knowledge and skills associated with construction technology and construction materials and practices. This is achieved through both theoretical study and integrated practical projects which provide a basis for the thorough exploration of materials and processes.


The Leaving Certificate Art syllabus is a broadly based course, which is made up of four units. These units link together and are based on the everyday visual experience of the student’s own environment. This subject requires a lot of work and study for the Leaving Certificate and students need to be creative and/or be able to interpret the creative work of others.


Design and Communication Graphics (DCG) has taken the place of technical drawing for the Leaving Certificate and provides students with the opportunity for visualising and comprehending information presented verbally or graphically.

Business Group

These subjects teach the skills and knowledge needed to understand how business works and include Accounting, Business and Economics.


Accounting is a Business Studies option within the Leaving Certificate programme. It covers aspects of business and social life which are not dealt with in any other subject in that programme. It is concerned with the preparation, recording, extraction, presentation and analysis of financial information for the purpose of making economic decisions.


Leaving Certificate Business creates an awareness of the importance of business activity and develops a positive and ethical attitude towards enterprise. The learning experiences in business develop students’ critical thinking, creative and organisational skills while enhancing literacy and numeracy skills using real-life examples.


Economics is regarded as the most practical business subject and is the study of how people manage limited resources such as money to meet their goals. By understanding the reasons why people spend their money in certain ways, economists can try to introduce incentives to change their behaviours.



Many University courses have subject specific entry requirements. When choosing senior cycle subjects students should ensure that their choices will meet the requirements for their desired course. We have compiled a quick reference guide, accessible by clicking the image to the left, that provides the specific entry requirements for the most popular courses and universites. 

Careers Quick Reference Guide 2022 Cover.jpg
bottom of page