Leaving Cert Agricultural Science or "Ag Science" is the science of farming and is becoming more and more popular, as Agriculture is one of the few growth areas in Ireland today.
The subject goes really well with Biology as there are a lot of overlapping topics. The course covers lots of practical topics such as cattle, pig and sheep management but don't be mistaken - there is a lot of science in this course. If you didn't do Science at higher level for the Junior Cert you will find some parts of the Ag Science course difficult. Lots of students, especially those from farming backgrounds, fall into the trap of thinking they know it all and they can waffle through the exam. Beware: the marking scheme is really specific, and you need to practice getting precise answers to achieve full marks.
More and more students are now taking up Ag Science as an extra subject outside of school. The course is short and definitely doable in one year but it probably only makes sense if you already do Biology. Don't forget: you will need an Ag Science teacher to grade your project.
75% of the marks are going for the written paper examining the above topics. The higher level paper has nine questions and you must answer six. For some reason, although not mandatory question one carries more marks than all the others so you should consider question one as a must do. The higher paper breaks down as follows:
Q1. Short Questions..........based on Geography, Biology and Ag Science
Q2. Soil Science..........a good bit of Geography in this
Q3. Different parts of the Ag Science course
Q4. Experiments……….Lots of Biology here
Q 5/6 Parts of the Ag course
Q7. Genetics.......... Biology pretty much covers this
Q8. An option question can contain Biology questions
Q9. Scientific explanations
The other 25% (100 marks) is based on an assessment of your work. Your teacher is required to grade you. An external assessor will then validate your teacher's grades, usually in May of 6th year.
This assessment of work can be broken into three parts;
1. Identification of plant and animal types associated with agriculture (usually a written exam or interview where you must identify 5 plants and their respective family and 10 animals and describe their importance to agriculture.
2. Practical experience with crops, livestock, house and farmyard layouts. This part of the assessment usually takes the form of a written project that you write based on your farm or an adopted farm.
3. Investigations and experiments are carried out related to ecology, soil science, animal physiology, plant physiology, genetics and microbiology. These investigations are normally recorded in a lab copy which is then assessed, sometimes in conjunction with an interview.
Future Careers Agricultural Science
Farming, Veterinary Medicine, Medicine, Science, Zoology
Download the leaving cert Ag Science Syllabus
Download the leaving cert Agricultural Science Chief Examiner's Report (2010)