Leaving Certificate History Essays

1. You had a rake of books to lug around with you

One for each section of history you were studying.

2. And it wasn’t quite as easy as Junior Cert History

Say farewell to your page-and-a-half essays about Cosimo de Medici. You’re in the big leagues now.

People in history essays at junior cert were the stuff of dreams compared to leaving cert history essays 😭😭😭

— danielle (@danielleidk) May 14, 2016
Source: danielle/Twitter

3. You had your ~favourite~ sections in history and some historical events that were your absolute jam


I think if we save up now the history class should take a leaving cert holiday to Jarrow and reenact the march

— katelynne (@yungkatelynne) April 1, 2016
Source: katelynne/Twitter

4. And others that you just couldn’t get your head around

*tries to memorise eight-page essay about propaganda in Germany, fails miserably*

5. It’s been years since you did Leaving Cert history but you could still waffle on about the Coleraine University Controversy if needs be

John Hume! The University for Derry Committee! The Lockwood Report!

6. You had history exam predictions down to a fine art

“The Eucharistic Congress hasn’t come up since 2007, which means it’s bound to come up this year.”

Source: Giphy

7. And you actively prayed that the State Examinations Commission wouldn’t let you down

“Please don’t trick me and put The Apprentice Boys of Derry on the paper for the second year in a row.”

8. You still have memories of the absolute hand cramps you had after every history exam

Your hands were invariably left gnarled and covered in ink stains after a marathon essay-writing session.

Source: NiamhMcG_/Twitter

9. This was you the night before your exam

10. The research study report was briefly the bane of your life

As part of Leaving Cert history, students were invited to write a report about an incident in history that was of particular interest to them. It couldn’t be too narrow or too broad, it required loads of research and it was generally a source of great stress.

Because as your teacher constantly reminded you, it was worth 20% of your final grade.

11. And you still have flashbacks of trying to make your handwriting sufficiently neat and legible in the final booklet


12. This accurately describes your process when it came to writing essays about Russian history

13. All in all, it really wasn’t for the faint-hearted

If you made it through Leaving Cert History, we salute you.

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Leaving cert History is a challenging course and requires essay style answers. Good English skills, the ability to do research and an interest in History are all important if you do this subject. Up to 20% of your final result will be based on your research project done before the exam. 

History (Late Modern) Course Content

Irish History (1815-1993) 

  • Ireland the Union,
  • Movements for political and social reform
  • The pursuit of sovereignty
  • The Irish Diaspora
  • Politics and society in Northern Ireland
  • Government society and the economy in Ireland (1949-1989) 

History of Europe and the Wider World 1815-1993 

  • Nationalism and State Formation
  • Nation states and international tensions
  • Dictatorship and democracy
  • Division and realignment in Europe
  • European retreat from Empire and the aftermath
  • The US and the World.

The Exam

A written examination paper (80%) and a research study report (20%)

At both levels, the examination paper features a documents-based question (linked to the documents-based study) and three general questions. All four questions carry equal marks.

Future Careers with Leaving Certificate History

Leaving cert History is not an essential requirement for any courses in the CAO system. History can be used in a wide variety of careers including Archaeology, Writing, Research, Education and Tourism.

Download the leaving cert History Syllabus

Download the leaving cert History Chief examiner's report (2011) 

Download the leaving cert History Guidlines for teachers 

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