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Why study History?

History is the examination of human experience over time. It attempts to understand and explain the origins and evolution of the societies we live in. It also explores the complex processes of social change, the choice of one set of political or ethical values over another, the context in which radical ideas arose, and much more. In addition to acquiring knowledge and an understanding of our past, our students develop intellectual adaptability, a capacity for critical assessment of complicated issues and personalities, and an ability to evaluate conflicting interpretations.

The Leaving Cert History Programme aims to:

  • To instill a love for the subject and to create self-directed learning and independent thought through the use of sources, for example, images, documents, audio-visuals and maps and to
  • develop the student’s research skills, especially at senior level.
  • To enable students to be familiar with sources available and where to locate them.
  • To equip the students to achieve to the best of their ability in their History examinations.


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 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

Students 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.

Relevance to careers:

Employers tend to see those who have studied History as:

  • Independent thinkers
  • Open-minded and objective
  • Disciplined
  • Good communicators
  • Able to analyse issues and problems
  • An ability to make logical appraisals

*At third level, knowledge of history will prove useful when studying Politics, Journalism, Economics, Business and Social Sciences.


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