Why study History?

“Why study History? The answer is because we virtually must, to gain access to the laboratory of human experience.  In studying history we acquire some basic data about the forces that affect our own lives, we emerge with relevant skills and an enhanced capacity for informed citizenship, critical thinking and simple awareness.  Studying history provides us with the skills to interpret the unfolding human record and provides a real grasp of how the world works.”       Peter N. Stearns. American Historical Society

Coláiste Naomh Cormac offers history at both Junior and Leaving Certificate level, providing our students with a valuable insight into our heritage and past.


Department Personnel

The Department consists of three fully qualified history teachers who possess extensive experience and expertise in the subject.  The department has a dedicated subject co-ordinator . The history department engages in regular department meetings in order to explore ways of developing the subject, in both the school and wider community.  All of C.N.C.’s history teachers are affiliated with the History Teachers’ Association of Ireland and regularly avail of their excellent in-service in order to introduce new ideas and innovation into the history classroom.


Junior Cert History

Junior Cert History involves the study of people who lived in the past, ordinary people as well as famous people. In History you will learn about the sources of evidence on which we base our understanding of their lives. You will find out about important changes that, over time, have helped to shape the world in which we live.


What will I learn in History?

Some of the things you will learn include:

  • How we find out about the past
  • How people have lived during different periods
  • How important changes took place during different periods, what caused the changes and how people were affected by these changes
  • A broad understanding of local, Irish and international history.

For more information see www.curriculumonline.ie

How will I learn History in school?

  • You will use a variety of resources in the classroom.
  • You will learn about evidence and how it helps us explore the past.
  • You will learn to interpret primary and secondary sources from the past.
  • You will learn to work not only on your own but also in pairs and groups.


How we can learn more about History outside of school?

Some of the activities of the class are:

  • Visit museums, historical buildings, local monuments and other historic sites
  • Interview older people about their lives in the past
  • Examine works of art and music produced by people in  the past
  • Forge links with our local libraries and heritage centres


Is learning History anything like what I did in primary school?

In SESE History, in primary school, you developed your knowledge and understanding of people, events and developments in the past.  Junior Cert History will continue to build on these areas.

Will History have anything to do with other subjects I will be studying?

Yes, it will.  History will give you a very useful background for many other subjects e.g. English, CSPE, Science, Art, Craft and Design.  Geography also looks at people’s places of settlement and how people’s lives are shaped by the places in which they live.  History, like English, is an excellent subject for developing your communication skills.


What is the History Junior Certificate exam like?

You will:

  • Answer questions on different historical sources such as photographs, cartoons and documents
  • Write accounts of what life was like for different types  of people in the past
  • Answer questions about important events that happened in the past.

For more information about the Junior Certificate exam log onto www.examination.ie


How will History be useful to me?

  • It will help you to better understand the world you live in.
  • You will gain experience of working with evidence and learn to tell the difference between fact and opinion.
  • History is a very practical subject because it involves learning about people, countries, societies and cultures.  History can help you in many different careers, especially those linked with research, heritage, tourism and the environment.


What is the Leaving Certificate like?

Aims and Objectives of Leaving Cert History

Knowledge and understanding


1. To develop knowledge and understanding of human activity in the past

Student will acquire knowledge and develop understanding of:

2. To promote understanding of the present through the development of a historical perspective on issues of contemporary importance

  • The specific listed elements of the four topics being studied
  • How the actions and experience of previous generations have helped influence the world of their successors
  • How the elements of Irish history topics studied fit into a broader international context
  • Human activity in the past, from a variety of perspectives, i.e. administrative, cultural, economic, political, religious, scientific and social

3. To develop knowledge and understanding of Irish, European and world history

4. To develop students understanding of historical concepts

5. To provide students with a perspective of change in a world of change

  • Students should develop an understanding of and an ability to apply such concepts as are fundamental to the study and writing of history.
  • Procedural concepts (source, evidence, fact, opinion, bias, objectivity)
  • Interpretive concepts (change, continuity, cause, consequence, comparison, contrast)
  • Substantive concepts (power, authority, conflict, reconciliation, democracy, human rights, culture, civilization, economy, society, identity, community, space, time)

Skills of History

Students will develop a range of skills associated with the study of history.

1. To develop an awareness of different interpretations particular historical issues.

2.To develop a range of research skills essential for the study of history

3. To develop an awareness of and an appreciation of the nature and variety of historical evidence. 

Recognition of the nature of historical knowledge

Students will learn to:

  • Recognize that historical knowledge is tentative and subject to revision and/or reinterpretation
  • Recognize that historical writing must be based on reliable evidence and may be open to more than one valid interpretation.


Research skills

Students will learn to:

  • Define an appropriate topic for research study
  • Locate historical data (primary and secondary sources)
  • Select and record relevant data
  • Evaluate data
  • Present findings in a logical format.


Skills in working with evidence

Students will develop the ability to: 

  • Recognize different types of historical sources material
  • Extract information from different source materials to answer questions
  • Evaluate the usefulness of sources
  • Detect bias
  • Identify propaganda. 


Preparation for life and citizenship

Through their study of history the students will acquire skills and understanding which will contribute to their personal growth as individuals and help them to prepare for life and work in society.

1.To develop the ability to think critically

They will develop the ability to think critically by making judgments based on an evaluation of evidence. 


2.To develop positive values associated with the study of history

They will develop positive values associated with the study of history by learning to: 


  • Be thorough in the collecting of information and accurate in its recording
  • Be aware of bias and strive to be objective
  • Be able to look at contentious issuesfrom more than one point of view.

3. To develop in students an appreciation of the society in which they live and of other societies, past and present


4. To develop in students an informed and critical awareness of their historical inheritance

Student will learn to:

  • Evaluate their historical inheritance through the study of history from the variety of perspectives.




How will the Leaving Certificate be examined?

There are two assessment components at both Higher and Ordinary level.

  • A Research Study Report = 20 % of the total marks

This is an important part of the syllabus and involves the study of a topic, event or person chosen by the student under the direction of their teacher.

  • A terminal exam = 80% of the total marks 

Questions will be offered on 12 topics based on Later Modern Ireland and Later Modern Europe.  As well as answering the compulsory question on a historical document (Question 1) students must write answers, in an essay style format, to questions on three of the twelve topics.

For further information on the Leaving Certificate examination log onto www.examination.ie  and www.ncca.ie


Department Facilities

The History Department has a wide range of facilities which are incorporated into the subject planning   in order to improve the quality of Learning and Teaching. These facilities are:

  • Each member of the History Department is based in their own classroom. 
  • Each teacher has a personal computer with access to the internet.
  • Students iPads have been preloaded with not only the history textbook but with excellent historical sources, websites and resources.
  • Each classroom has a data projector for use in presenting relevant PowerPoints, historical and audio clips and the students’ own work.
  • Each classroom reflects the subject with prominent displays of the students’ work, historical timelines and vocabulary walls.
  • The school library’s historical section is regularly updated.


Assessment for learning

Assessment for learning means using evidence and dialogue to identify where pupils are in their learning, where they need to go and how best to get there.  Assessment for learning techniques, strategies and teaching methodologies inform the history department’s subject planning and practice.



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