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At Leaving Cert level, the English course aims to develop:


  • The ability to critically analyse information, as preparation for the responsibilities and challenges of adult life;
  • A respect and appreciation for language used accurately and appropriately, and a competence in a wide range of oral and written language skills;
  • An awareness of the value of literature for widening horizons, for enhancing their sense of cultural identity, and for personal enjoyment.

Why Study English?

Leaving Certificate English invites students into rich experiences with language so that they become fluent and thoughtful users of it and more aware of its significance in their lives. The study of English develops a range of literacy and oral skills in a variety of areas – personal, social, and cultural. Students develop a wide range of skills and concepts which will allow them to interpret and enjoy a range of material so that they become independent learners who can operate independently in the world beyond school. Students interested in furthering their English studies beyond second-level have a wide variety course choices available.


What kind of student would English suit?

  • Anyone who has ambitions for a career in creative writing, politics, or entertainment.
  • English also forms a key part of journalism courses and good presentation skills will be required for courses in history, politics, law and almost all other courses.
  • Students seeking to develop and improve their communication skills.

Course Content


Core Elements



Students are required to study the following five designated areas of language in a wide variety of contexts, functions and styles. 

  1. The Language of Information.
  2. The Language of Argument.
  3. The Language of Persuasion.
  4. The Language of Narration.
  5. The Aesthetic use of Language.



Students are required to study one literary text from a list of prescribed texts.

Students are required to study three other texts in the Comparative manner, according to the comparative modes prescribed for that year.

Students are required to study at least six poets from the eight poets prescribed at higher level.  At ordinary level, 36 poems are prescribed.

Compulsory elements: 

At higher level, a Shakespearean Play must be one of the texts chosen for study on its own or as an element of the Comparative study.


Optional Elements: 

At ordinary level, the study of a Shakespearean play is optional.


Exam Structure

Leaving Certificate English has two final examinations for both Higher and Ordinary level. 


Paper I – Higher and Ordinary Level – 170 mins. – 200 marks. 

Paper II- Higher and Ordinary Level – 200 mins. – 200 marks.  


Career Possibilities

English is valuable for careers in a wide range of areas including: Advertising, Broadcasting, Journalism, Law, Librarianship, Politics, Speech Therapy, Teaching, Sales, Linguistics, Interpretation and Translation to name just a few. 


For more detailed information on the Leaving Certificate English syllabus click the link below.