Physics is the basic physical science. Physics is concerned not so much with ‘”what is so” but rather “why” it is so. It deals with topics such as forces, motion, energy, electricity and nuclear energy. It is a 2 year course with a maximum of 24 students per class. It is examined at two levels – ordinary and higher level. Topics at higher level get a greater depth of treatment, and students at higher level are expected to be proficient and comfortable with analysing and solving mathematical problems.
Mechanics – force, energy, power, motion, gravity, density, pressure
Sound – waves, Doppler effect, notes, resonance, sound intensity.
Heat and Temperature – heat transfer, heat capacity, thermometers.
Light – mirrors, lenses, colours, electromagnetic spectrum
Electricity – static electricity, resistance, domestic circuits, semi-conductors, electromagnetism.
Modern physics – thermionic emission, photoelectric effect, x –rays, radioactivity, nuclear energy.
Students also study one of two options – either particle physics or applied electricity.
The examination consists of a 3 hour written paper (worth 100%) and is divided into two sections.
- Section A (30%) questions students on 4 of the mandatory 26 experiments which students carry out over the course of the two year Leaving Certificate programme. Note: these experiments are to be written up by students in an experiment copy and available for inspection by the Department of Education and Skills.
- Section B (70%) questions students on concepts in physics and tests students’ ability to apply these concepts in solving mathematical related problems.
Requirements to study Physics at Leaving Certificate
- It is imperative that students have a genuine interest in and aptitude for science.
- It is preferable for students to have studied and passed science at higher level for their Junior Certificate.
- It is preferable for students to be competent and comfortable with mathematics.
- Students must have an inquisitive mind and a desire to know why things work as they do.
- Biomedical engineering
- Mechanical engineering
- Civil engineering
- Computer engineering
- Second and third level education
- Radiation protection
- Environmental monitoring
- Graphics/Software design
Is physics for you?
- If you want and enjoyable and rewarding career where you use your imagination, your practical ability and your creative flair, then physics could be for you.
- If you are studying higher level maths and/or applied maths, there will be some overlap with physics.
- If you are thinking about engineering, medicine, dentistry, electronics, astronomy or technology, then physics is for you. Physics can be required for some engineering courses and physics courses and is highly desirable for most science related and engineering courses.
- Physics rewards the capable, hard working exam candidates. At higher level each year, approximately 10-11% of candidates secure a H1, and 27-28% of candidates secure a H1 or a H2.
- With a physics qualification, you could choose to work in the open air, in a hospital, in a laboratory team, in engineering, in education or in many other environments.