What is History?

History aims to record and analyse things which have happened in the past, with an emphasis on both how and why events occured. It is often studied out of personal interest, but also develops important skills such as self-discipline and critical thinking which are of life-long importance.

It is crucial when studying history to pay attention to the evidence presented, and to keep in mind factors such as bias and propeganda. Students are encouraged to consider the validity of different interpretations of evidence to develop a more balanced and grounded judgement. Research skills such as drawing on a wide variety of sources of evidence (such as maps, public records, political cartoons, and memoirs) are developed throughout the course. When writing, students are taught to produce focused, logical, and supported arguments.

Note that Leaving Cert History is completely different from the Junior Cert course!


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.


Third Level Entry Requirements 
This subject is not an essential requirement for any courses in the CAO system.

Subject Content:

The Leaving Cert History course is divided into two distinct fields of study; Early Modern (1492-1915) and Late Modern (1815-1993). Each field is further divided into six Irish topics and six European topics. Students select one field of study, and focus on two Irish and two European topics from that field. One of the topics in each field will be prescribed as a documents-based question, which will involve examining evidence and drawing conclusions.

Assessment consists of two components:

  1. A written examination paper (80%)
  2. A research study report (20%)


When considering history as a Leaving Certificate subject students should note the following:

  • An interest in the subject is vital; some students choose it on the basis that they like nothing else on the Subject Line.
  • A good knowledge of English, an ability to write and an interest in current affairs is important.
  • Self discipline is an essential ingredient as students must show initiative in researching material, not merely for the research topic, but also to augment their knowledge of the course in general.
  • Choosing it on the basis that it was an easy subject for the Junior Certificate has absolutely no basis of truth, they are two completely separate courses. Leaving Certificate history is demanding and some students find out too late to their cost that they cannot cope and drop out.
  • If history is a subject that you like and you have the ability, discipline and work ethic to do well in it, but is not related to the course you want to pursue at Third Level, you should consider doing it on the basis that it will get you the required points to get the Third Level course that you want.