Subject Overview

The Leaving Certificate Music syllabus provides continuity and progression from Junior Certificate Music. The general aims and overall shape of both is broadly similar. In providing the musical knowledge, understanding, practical competencies and attitudes appropriate to their age, abilities and interests, the syllabus caters for the varying needs of all students including those who wish to pursue further studies in music.


The content of this syllabus involves a series of interrelated musical activities within each of the three core areas of musical experience - performing, composing and listening.

In performing, students may choose from a variety of individual and/or group performing activities.

In composing, students may select from a range of prescribed exercises or, at higher level, choose to present free composition in part fulfilment of the composing requirement.


The listening component spans different musical periods, styles and genres. Students study:

  • Prescribed works 
  • Irish music 
  • Aural skills 
  • Special study topic (a higher level specialism in listening)

Students may specialise in one of the three areas of musical experience. The structure of the syllabus allows them to undertake 50% of their work in the musical activity that best suits their interests and talents. The syllabus content allows for considerable diversity in the choice of teaching materials and approaches. All musical genres are encouraged.

The syllabus is designed to allow for mixed ability teaching. Ordinary level students undertake exercises appropriate to their stage of musical development. Higher level students undertake similar exercises, but at a more advanced level, together with additional work in a chosen specialist area.


Leaving Certificate Music is examined at two levels, Ordinary level and Higher level. The modes of assessment include:

  • a practical examination in individual and/or group performing 
  • a combined aural and written examination in composing and listening to music.

Higher level students whose specialist options is composing will also present samples of their work for assessment.