Topics covered include organic chemistry, water analysis, industrial chemistry, bonding, gases, oxidation and reductions, fuels, environmental chemistry. Emphasis is placed on the social and applied aspects of chemistry, so students understand how chemistry relates to everyday life. The new syllabus (2002) has as its primary aim; To produce a scientifically literate population challenging the idea that chemistry is only for the elite.

What kind of student might Chemistry suit?
  • Students considering a career in any scientific discipline, such as chemistry, biology,environmental science, medicine, pharmacology, or material science.
  • Students who were successful in Junior Cert Science, particularly in the chemistry section.
  • A student of average ability, who is well motivated should be able to acquire a grade C inthe Higher Level paper. Above average ability is needed to acquire a B or A.
What is Chemistry?

The Leaving Cert course follows directly from Junior Cert 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.

The Chemistry course is designed to encourage an appreciation of the scientific, social, economic, environmental and technological aspects of chemistry and an understanding of the historical development of chemistry. It attempts to develop skills of observation, analysis, evaluation, communication and problem solving. It is an abstract subject in which students develop fluency in communication. The syllabus consists of approximately 70% pure chemistry and the remaining 30% deals with the social and applied aspects of chemistry. There are 28 compulsory experiments.

Third Level Entry Requirements

This subject is a requirement for entry into a number of third level courses. For example; Human Nutrition and Biomedical Science courses in DIT and Veterinary Science in UCD require HC in Chemistry.

The study of Chemistry for its own sake should not be ignored. The student is introduced to the study of ideas and experimental work that have shaped the 20th Century. Some of the theoretical work covered, represents the finest flowering of human achievement in any field.

A Graduate of a degree programme in Chemistry, when qualified, can find work in the Irish Chemical & Pharmaceutical industry, which is now well established in this country, especially in the field of fine chemicals. The industry is confident that there will be a steady demand for chemistry graduates.

Subject Content

Leaving Cert. Chemistry is comprised of all the essential and relevant topics within general chemistry. The major topics involved include the following:

  • Atomic structure
  • Volumetric analysis
  • Organic chemistry
  • Water chemistry
  • Reaction mechanisms.

There also is an option to be taken as part of the course which involves the study of atmospheric and industrial chemistry or the study of materials and electrochemistry. Experimental investigations are an essential part of the Leaving Certificate course. Each student must complete at least 28 experiments over the duration of the course. Experimental work is examined as part of the Leaving Certificate exam and forms the basis for a minimum of three questions on the exam paper.

Exam Structure

The Leaving Certificate exam is three hours in duration. Each candidate must answer at least two questions from Section A (experimental section) and a maximum of six questions from Section B. There are eleven questions in total on the exam paper, each carrying fifty marks. There is no element of continuous assessment but experimental copies must be available for inspection by the State Examinations Commission.

Final Comments
  • It is recommended that a student undertaking the course has a good understanding of Junior Cert Science at the Higher Level.
  • A reasonable competence in Maths is required.
  • Each student should have an aptitude and interest for laboratory work.
  • A student would be expected to have a reasonable level of Junior Cert Maths, either at Higher or Ordinary Level.
  • Recent observations from journalists writing about careers have suggested that the Irish Economy is experiencing a shortage of people with Chemistry skills. Yet points requirements to get into Applied Chemistry courses in Institutes of Technology are among the lowest. This is the case because the demand for these courses among school leavers is low.