A new History syllabus was introduced in 2004 to make History more interesting, approachable and stimulating. History aims to record and analyse things which have happened in the past, with an emphasis on both how and why events occurred. It deals with human experience and it is often studied out of personal interest, but also develops important skills such as self-discipline and critical thinking which are of life-long importance.

What Kind of Student Might History Suit?

  • Students who enjoy and appreciate history, and would like to improve their knowledge.
  • Students who are willing to commit a lot of time; History is a demanding subject.
  • Students who have strong English language skills, and are able to write.
  • Students aiming to improve their self-discipline and research skills.

Course Overview

    The Leaving Certificate History course was recently revised and is divided into two distinct fields of study; Early Modern (1492-1815) and Late Modern (1815-1993). Each field is further divided into six Irish topics and six European topics.
    Students are encouraged to develop research skills and an appreciation for the society in which they live. It can bring students in touch with human experiences that are very different from their own and present an opportunity to improve their critical thinking.
    The Leaving Certificate History Syllabus gives teachers a choice of 4 topics which will be studied from a selection of 12 topics in modern Irish and modern European history.
    The study of History at Leaving Certificate fulfils many of the general aims and principles of the Leaving Certificate programmes.
    • It emphasises the importance of individual thought.
    • It fosters a spirit of inquiry and critical thinking.
    • It helps to prepare students both for further education and for adult and working life.
    • It helps to prepare students for their role as active and participative citizens.
History is a good all round education.

It is crucial when studying History to pay attention to the evidence presented, and to keep in mind factors such as bias and propaganda. Students are encouraged to consider the validity of different interpretations of evidence to develop a more balanced and grounded judgement.

The course is quite large and requires constant attention throughout the year. Research skills such as drawing on a wide variety of sources of evidence (such as maps, public records, political cartoons, and memoirs) are developed throughout the course. When writing, students are taught to produce focused, logical, and supported arguments.

Course Content

The Leaving Certificate History Syllabus gives teachers a choice of 4 topics which will be studied from a selection of 12 topics in modern Irish and modern European history.

The topics are arranged in two discrete fields of study:
  • Early Modern, 1492-1815
  • Later Modern, 1815-1993
Students will study topics from one of the fields of study.

Within each field of study, there are six topics from Irish history and six from the history of Europe and the wider world.

Students will study two topics from Irish history and two from the history of Europe and the wider world from the selected field of study.

Two topics will be prescribed for documents-based study: one from the Early Modern field of study and one from the Later Modern field of study.

Students will engage in a documents-based study of the prescribed topic from their selected field of study.

Research Study

Pupils will also undertake a Research Study which will take the form of a report to be submitted around Easter time before the Leaving Certificate exam in June

This Research Study can be about any aspect of history, in any period. The teacher will help and oversee this work but the choice of subject matter is that of the student. This part of the assessment carries 20% of the total marks.

The Exam Structure

The exam will last 2 hours 50 minutes and pupils will answer the Documents based study and three essays (one from each topic studied).

Ordinary level students follow an identical course, with a different emphasis in the way questions are asked on exam papers.

Assessment consists of two components: A written examination paper (80%) and A research study report (20%) submitted around Easter before the June exam.

The marks are to be weighted as follows:

Authentication Procedures

The report must be the candidate’s own work. Authentication procedures will be put in place to ensure compliance with this requirement. These will include a
protocol in relation to the use of internet-sourced material.

The Terminal Examination

Mark allocation. The percentage of the total marks to be allocated to this component will be 80%.

The Higher Level Paper

  • Candidates will answer four questions, one on each of the four topics studied. All four questions will be of equal value. One of the questions will be documents-based.
  • With the exception of topics nominated for the documents-based study, a specified number of questions will be asked on each of the topics.
  • In the case of each topic, at least two of the three perspectives will be examined each year.

The Ordinary Level Paper

  • Candidates will answer four questions, one on each of the four topics studied. All four questions will be of equal value. Three of the questions will be general questions, while one will be documents-based.
  • One question will be set on each topic.
  • An element of choice will be “built in” to each of the general questions.
  • A common format will apply to each of the general questions and each will be stimulus-driven.

The stimulus is intended to facilitate candidate recognition of the topic and as a reasonably gentle lead-in to more testing examination of knowledge and understanding. The common format will include stimulus-driven questions (testing comprehension and/or identification) and paragraphs or short essays linked to the key personalities and case studies.

Career Possibilities

History develops an ability to think independently and is very useful skill for 3rd level education. An interest in, and knowledge of history are relevant to any career related to:

  • Current Affairs
  • Journalism
  • Local and National Radio and TV

History is valuable as a background to studies in:

  • Law
  • Town Planning
  • Architecture
  • Politics
  • Economics
  • Sociology
  • Art
  • Museum and Library work

History is a also a good training for work in Administration, Management and Business. History is excellent for careers in Tourism, Government and Teaching.