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Physics is the branch of science that studies forces, matter, and energy. It was originally called natural philosophy. A knowledge of physics is fundamental to an understanding of the world around us. Leaving cert Physics aims to give students an understanding of the fundamental principles of physics and their application to everyday life. The inclusion of the applications of physics will enable students to see where physics applies in the world of work. The syllabus also aims to develop an appreciation of physics as a creative activity and to develop an understanding of the beauty and simplicity of nature.

Course Content
The syllabus is presented at two levels–Ordinary level and Higher level. The content is drawn from the major areas in physics and has both compulsory and optional elements. The Higher level includes two options, one of which must be taken. There are no options at Ordinary level.

Compulsory Topics

1. Optics / Waves
2. Mechanics
3. Temperature & Heat
4. Electricity
5. Electromagnetism
6. Modern Physics 

Optional Topics
1. Particle Physics
2. Applied Electricity


Who would this subject suit at Leaving Certificate?

  • 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. 

  • 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 need to able to draw and read graphs and be competent in using a calculator throughout the course.


Type of Homework/Projects/Assignments

Leaving Certificate Physics is assessed by means of one terminal examination paper at each level.  

There are a number of mandatory student experiments, which develop the practical skills involved in setting up and adjusting equipment and taking measurements. Students are required to keep a record of their practical work over the two years of the course. These mandatory experiments are examined in Section A of the Leaving cert.     

  • 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

Regular independent study is required to succeed at any leaving cert subject but this is especially true for Physics. In this regard, homework will take often take the form of independent revision of material covered in class. Practice exercises, which allow students to apply or review newly acquired skills will also be assigned.

Is this subject a requirement for any college courses?

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.


Resources Used

The Physics laboratory is equipped with the requisite equipment for students to engage in the mandatory experiments as required by the syllabus. Additional apparatus is available for teacher demonstrations.

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