Physics and Chemistry

Subject Overview

The Physics and Chemistry syllabus is a discrete syllabus and students presenting for this subject in the Leaving Certificate examination may not present for either of the individual syllabuses Leaving Certificate Physics or Leaving Certificate Chemistry.


The syllabus consists of the following main topics:
  • Mechanics including velocity, acceleration, mass, work, and energy
  • Light – optics: the laws of reflection and refraction, mirrors and lenses
  • Light – wave theory; electromagnetic spectrum and photoemission
  • Introduction to static and current electricity
  • Magnetism and electromagnetism
  • Heat, temperature and kinetic theory
  • Structure of the atom and the Periodic Table,
  • Radioactivity
  • Molecular theory; structure and shape of simple molecules
  • Chemical bonding – ionic, covalent and metallic bonds
  • Chemical reactions and chemical equations including relative atomic mass
  • Introduction to thermochemistry and the First law of Thermodynamics
  • Chemical reactions: acid-base theory; oxidation and reduction
  • Electrochemistry and the activity series
  • The chemistry of hydrogen, oxygen and chlorine
  • Introduction to organic chemistry
Physics and Chemistry is an experimental and practical subject and practical work by students is regarded as an integral part of the course. A list of suitable experiments to be undertaken by students is included in each section of the syllabus.


Leaving Certificate Physics and Chemistry is examined at two levels, Ordinary level and Higher level. Assessment is by terminal examination paper. Higher level candidates are expected to demonstrate a greater depth of understanding than are Ordinary level candidates. Records of practical work done by students should be kept and be available for inspection.


The syllabus was first introduced in the 1970s. A revised syllabus is being finalised by the NCCA, with the title Chemical and Physical Science. No implementation date has been set for the revised syllabus.