About Agricultural Science
Learn more about Ireland’s fastest growing subject.
The Leaving Certificate Agricultural Science curriculum is designed to provide pupils with the necessary skills, practical experience and knowledge in a range of agricultural and scientific principles. The subject involves the study of the science and technology underlying the principles and practices of agriculture in Ireland. It aims to develop knowledge, skills and attitudes that promote the sustainability of agricultural resources, and places emphasis on the managed use of these resources.
It is a broad but interesting course, which examines the principal farming enterprises in Ireland (dairy, beef, sheep, pig, tillage crops, potatoes, forestry, poultry) while also giving a deep understanding of the science underpinning these enterprises. Plants and animal types associated with agriculture are studied, and investigations are undertaken into such aspects as soil, ecology, plant and animal physiology, farm crops, farming practices, genetics and microbiology.
The course is typically aimed at students with an interest in agriculture or horticulture, or perhaps those who wish to pursue a career in Veterinary medicine, but in reality the subject has broad appeal, even in city schools, and an agricultural background is not necessary. In 2014, nearly 8000 students sat the Agricultural Science exam in their Leaving Certificate (more than Physics and just shy of Chemistry). Young people are more interested in where their food comes from these days, thus the subject has increased in popularity over the past number of years.
As well as being classroom and lab orientated, the subject is also deeply rooted in farm practice and most schools will arrange a large number of field trips and excursions to farms, universities and laboratories during the two years of study. Throughout the two year course the pupils are required to maintain a portfolio of their practical experience, which will be assessed and contribute to their overall grade in the Leaving Certificate. The terminal exam, worth 75% of the total marks, is a 2 1/2 hour paper assessing all elements of the curriculum.
A new subject specification for Leaving Certificate Agricultural Science was released in January 2019 and introduced into classrooms in September 2019. The new specification is available here.
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