Senior Cycle

Senior cycle education in Ireland may be of a two or three year duration. Students may follow a two-year Leaving Certificate programme or they may take an additional optional year at the start of their senior cycle. This year is called Transition Year.

Transition Year:

Please find information on Transition Year in Blackwater Community School in our TY Brochure, which is available here to download.
BCS TY Brochure 2023-2024

Leaving Certificate Established

The Leaving Certificate (Established) is a two-year programme that aims to provide learners with a broad, balanced education while also offering them a chance to specialise towards particular higher education and career options. In general, students take five or more subjects (usually seven) for examination, one of which must be Irish. Subjects are normally studied at either Ordinary or Higher Level. Two subjects, Irish and Mathematics, can be studied at Foundation Level.

Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme

Students following the Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme (LCVP) take 6 or 7 Leaving Certificate subjects and two additional Link Modules: Preparation for the World of Work and Enterprise Education.
More information on LCVP is available here: Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme (LCVP)

Leaving Certificate Applied

Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA) students follow a pre-vocational programme made up of a range of courses that are structured round three elements: Vocational Preparation, Vocational Education and General Education.
More information on LCA is available here: Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA)

Senior Cycle Curriculum

A number of Leaving Certificate subjects are currently under various stages of review. Syllabi in 36 subjects are available here on

Assessment in the senior cycle State examinations

Formal assessment in senior cycle, as used to test and certify achievement, is managed through the State examinations and administered by the State Examinations Commission (SEC). A broad range of assessment methods are used across the range of Leaving Certificate subjects, including oral and aural examinations, coursework and practical examinations.

At the end of senior cycle, students who have followed the Leaving Certificate (Established) take the Leaving Certificate examination. Student achievement in this examination is directly linked to processes of selection for courses of study in further and higher education.

In addition to the Leaving Certificate examinations mentioned above, students who follow the Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme (LVCP) take an additional examination paper and submit a portfolio in the Link Modules.

Students who follow the Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA) programme take a final examination in their courses of study and also accumulate credits over the two years of study.

Further information on the assessment of the various subjects is found in the syllabus of each subject (please find the link above under Senior Cycle Curriculum). Additional general assessment information is available on