Senior Cycle

Leaving Certificate 2020

Information for Leaving Certificate students about the exams including wellbeing resources and supports

The Leaving Certificate (Established) is a two-year programme that aims to provide learners with a broad, balanced education while also offering some specialisation towards a particular career option.

Students following the Leaving Certificate (Established) programme are required to study at least five subjects, one of which must be Irish unless an exemption applies [see Irish Exemption section of website]. In general, students take five or more subjects for examination.

All subjects are offered at two levels, ordinary and higher. Irish and Mathematics are available at foundation level also.

Click here for Syllabuses and Prescribed Material (prescribed material comprises literature, academic works, musical pieces, etc. on which exam questions can be based) 

The Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA) is a two-year programme designed for those students who do not wish to proceed directly to higher education or for those whose needs, aptitudes and learning styles are not fully catered for by the other two Leaving Certificate programmes. Participants in the Leaving Certificate Applied are mainly engaged in work and study of an active, practical and learner-centred nature.

The Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme(LCVP) is a Leaving Certificate with a focus on enterprise and preparation for working life. This two-year programme combines the academic strengths of the Leaving Certificate with a dynamic focus on self-directed learning, enterprise, work and the community.

Information on both the LCA and LCVP can be found at:

The Transition Year (TY) is a one-year programme taken after Junior Cycle and before the two-year Leaving Certificate programme. For information on Transition Year, click here.

The State Examinations Commission (SEC): (

The State Examinations Commission (SEC) is a non-departmental public body under the aegis of the Department.


The SEC is responsible for the development, assessment, accreditation and certification of the second-level examinations of the Irish state: the Junior Certificate and the Leaving Certificate.  Information relating to the orals and practical elements (projects and practical coursework) of the examinations is also dealt with by the SEC.

New Subjects

Computer Science

Computer Science was introduced as a Leaving Certificate examinable subject in Phase 1 schools in September 2018. Phase 1 schools were selected following an application process. The subject will be available for all schools to offer at their choosing from September 2020.

The specification for Computer Science is available on

An FAQ on Leaving Certificate Computer Science is available here.

Leaving Certificate Computer Science Framework

A Leaving Certificate Computer Science (LCCS) Support Framework has been established to support the national rollout of Computer Science to post-primary schools.  The framework brings together a unique collaboration of representatives from all of the key stakeholders with the intention of developing and implementing a range of measures designed to allow the subject to develop and prosper

Leaving Certificate Computer Science Bulletin

Physical Education

Two new curricula for physical education at senior cycle were introduced from September 2018 in Phase 1 schools:

  •  Leaving Certificate Physical Education (optional subject for examination in the Leaving Certificate)
  • The Senior Cycle Physical Education Framework (not for examination)

Phase 1 of the implementation process involves a number of schools who applied to be part of the introduction of either the new examinable subject and Framework or both. The examinable subject will be available for all schools to offer at their choosing from September 2020.

The specification for Leaving Certificate Physical Education and the Senior Cycle Physical Education Framework are both available on

An FAQ on Leaving Certificate Physical Education is available here.

An FAQ on the Senior Cycle Physical Education Framework is available here.

Non Curricular EU Languages:

The State Examinations Commission also provides examinations in a range of subjects in the language area referred to as the Non-Curricular EU Languages. These are languages which do not appear as part of the normal school curriculum but which students may opt to be examined in if they meet certain criteria. Chief among these criteria are the requirements that candidates for these examinations :

  • Be from a member state of the European Union
  • Speak the language in which they opt to be examined in as a mother tongue
  • Have followed a programme of study leading to the Leaving Certificate
  • Be taking Leaving Certificate English.

Another condition is that candidates may undertake examination in one non-curricular language subject only.