Project Maths, the current Leaving Cert curriculum, provides students with the opportunity to gain an understanding of and familiarity with several branches of mathematics, as well as developing their overall appreciation of the subject. The branches, or ‘strands’ in question have been chosen because they have applications in everyday life, are useful in other disciplines and provide a foundation for further education. As a result, maths is very accessible to students at all levels.

As a wide-ranging subject with many fields, mathematics has practical applications in every day life. For students it opens doors to careers. For citizens it enables informed decisions. For nations it provides knowledge to compete in a technological community. No longer just the language of science, mathematics contributes in direct and fundamental ways to business, finance, health and defence. Whether it’s managing your monthly budget or a part of your job, mathematics has a place in everyone’s life.

What level of Mathematics would be suitable for me?

Mathematics is available for study at three levels, Foundation, Ordinary, and Higher and each level covers everything in the levels below it. Students are encouraged to study at the level appropriate to their needs and aspirations. There are many careers which require or benefit greatly from having a Higher Level of mathematics and it’s a good idea to research these before coming to a decision.

Aiming for Higher Level:

Mathematics at Higher Level is designed to suit the needs of all students, whether they’re continuing their study of mathematics to Third Level, studying it to complement another subject (such as Business or Physics), or just looking for points. The course familiarises students with the ideas of abstraction and rigorous proof, giving learners a feeling for the great mathematical concepts that span many centuries and cultures, as well as covering practical everyday topics which students are meeting in their lives outside school.

The Higher Level course is demanding, but very rewarding, both in terms of intellectual achievement and potential career paths opened. Worldwide, and particularly in Ireland there

is huge demand for students who are technically capable and Higher Level mathematics trains students in exactly the skills they’ll need to succeed.

From a careers perspective, students considering a career in any area of science, medicine, engineering, business, or finance should be studying Higher Level maths if at all possible, as large portions of the Higher Level course will be reviewed or assumed at third level. There are of course many other careers and courses which benefit from a knowledge of Higher Level maths.


Aiming for Ordinary Level:

At Ordinary Level, students are offered mathematics that is meaningful, relatively accessible, and chosen with the understanding that many of them may go on to use and apply mathematics in their future careers and all of them will meet the subject to a greater or lesser degree in their daily lives. The course starts with practical and familiar problems, and gradually introduces more abstract ideas, leading towards the use of academic mathematics in the context of further study.

Most Leaving Cert students sit the Ordinary Level maths exam, often having dropped down from Higher Level due to increased pressure in sixth year. Passing Ordinary Level maths is extremely important, as the majority of CAO courses require at least a D3; and students who don’t meet this requirement are often left with few to no Third Level education options.

Aiming for Foundation Level:

At Foundation Level, mathematics is about developing maths as a body of knowledge and skills that makes sense and can be used in many different ways as a good method of solving problems and finding answers. It’s intended to equip learners with the knowledge and skills required in everyday life, and it is also intended to lay the groundwork for learners who may proceed to further studies in areas in which specialist mathematics is not required.

The course focuses primarily on fundamental skills and providing a basic but solid understanding of mathematical concepts which will remain relevant and useful in the future. As well as numerical problems, students can also expect to be presented with visual and spatial questions,as well as some theory.

Taking Foundation Level maths has the disadvantage of making many CAO courses inaccessible, which may have serious implications for students considering Third Level education.


Third Level Entry Requirements

This subject is a requirement for entry into a number of third level courses.
Some colleges may accept a student getting an ‘E’ grade at Higher Level maths as having passed their examination. Some Higher Education Institutes have introduced a ‘second-chance’ exam for students who do not pass Leaving Cert maths, which is sufficient to enter some of their courses which require mathematics.

Subject Content:

Project Maths divides the course into five ‘strands’ of maths which are studied at all levels, in greater depth at Higher Levels. These are:

  • Statistics and Probability aims to provide an understanding of what probability is and why concepts such as variation and uncertainty are important. Students will also learn how to analyse statistics such as those in newspapers, business reports, and scientific data, so that they can draw meaningful and relevant conclusions.
  • Geometry and Trigonometry deals with shapes such as circles and triangles, both on the coordinate plane and otherwise. The skills developed here are useful in areas such as architecture, landscape design, and agriculture, as well as visual design and spatial reasoning.
  • Number (details not yet published)
  • Algebra (details not yet published)
  • Functions (details not yet published)

Useful for: Engineering, Engineering Technician, Geologist, Insurance, Economist, Accountancy,
Actuary, Air Traffic Controller, Architecture, Astronomy, Banking, Biologist, Clerical Worker,
Chemist, Civil Servant, Computer Operator, Data Input Operator.