Philosophy aside, the Art course for Leaving Certificate consists of two main parts. The practical side of the course is about developing the student’s ability in a range of artistic fields and disciplines. The syllabus permits a huge number of media, from the fine arts such as sculpture, drawing, and painting, to puppet-making, embroidery, calligraphy, metalwork, and pottery.

Students are expected to spend the duration of the course practicing and developing their skills in several of these areas.

Why Study Art?

If you want to study more in an artistic area you can continue in Fine Art and specialise in painting, sculpting or printmaking. Alternatively, you could go into the design area and specialise in areas such as fashion, graphic, interior or furniture design. Studying art as the title suggests allows students to be creative and explore their desire for self-expression and develop an appreciation for artistic work of others including the work of famous artists and the History of Art.

What kind of Student would Art suit?

  • Students who have shown an aptitude for Art, such as by getting high grades in Junior Certificate Art.
  • Anyone considering a career in a creative discipline such as Architecture, Marketing, Film and Entertainment, Web Design, Fashion, Game Design, or Advertising.
  • Students who are weak in other areas such as languages or mathematics may find it easier to achieve points in Art.
  • Students that enjoy expressing themselves through art and like to sketch and doodle.
  • Students that are prepared to work hard at developing their artistic talent.
  • Students who are looking for a break from intensive memory-work in their other subjects, or to reduce pressure on themselves in June by having a subject with exams in April/May.

Course Overview

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

Note: that the Leaving Cert Art course has nothing to do with the portfolio submissions which Art and Design colleges often require. The course does not aim to build a portfolio, and all marks are given for work done on the day. However, it is common to take Art while preparing a portfolio, and much of the practice work done in class can be included.

Quick Facts

  • Three practical examinations carried out in May. These are; Life Sketching, Still Life or Imaginative or Abstract Composition, Design or Craftwork. All three examinations have papers to help with the preparation of ideas, research, design and materials.
  • The Art course also features a written examination on History and Appreciation of Art, which counts for 37.5% of the marks in June.

Course Content

All students, both Ordinary and Higher level, follow a common course. The practical work can include Life Sketching, Still Life, Imaginative Composition, Design and Craftwork.

The History of Art and Appreciation is a broad course covering Irish and European Art, and also Art Appreciation. It requires looking at artworks through the use of reproductions, slides and art galleries, reading books and writing essays on different subjects.

Exam Structure

Unlike the Junior Certificate, the practical examination takes place over the course of a week in supervised sessions of up to five hours, during which students are to complete a project (such as a sketch or drawing) and submit it for evaluation.

The Art course also features a written examination on History and Appreciation of Art, which counts for 37.5% of the marks. The exam is divided into three sections, one on Irish Art, one on European Art, and a final section on artistic appreciation. The course content is extremely broad, and covers everything from prehistoric Art to the modern day, but students are free to focus their studies on a few narrow areas of interest such as renaissance or Celtic Art. Diagrams and illustrative sketches are encouraged in the exam.

Career Possibilities

Art is useful for careers in animation, art teaching, computer design, architecture, fashion design, interior design, graphic design, painting and decorating, photography and art therapy.