Maynooth Post Primary School

Leaving Cert History


The Nature of History

History deals with the experience of human life in the past. The study of history involves an investigation of the surviving evidence relating to such experience. It brings the student of history into contact with human experiences, which are often very different from his/her own. Thus, the student gains insight into other ways of life, other ways of thinking, other solutions to recurrent human problems.

The Nature of the syllabus

The principle underlying the syllabus is that the study of history should be regarded as an exploration of what historians believe to have happened, based on an enquiry into the available evidence. The following are some of the main features of the syllabus: In-depth study: The syllabus involves a detailed study of a number of historical topics and it provides the opportunity to study aspects of these topics in greater depth. This approach allows for greater appreciation of the complexities inherent in the challenge of interpreting the past and the making of reasoned judgements based on an evaluation of evidence. Emphasis on skills: The in-depth approach facilitates an emphasis on developing the skills of history; in particular, skills in working with evidence and research skills. Working with evidence: The study of one of the topics will involve the structured use of historical documents. This will allow the student to develop expertise in the evaluation of evidence and the capacity to make reasoned judgements. Research study: Involvement in research is an integral part of the syllabus. While offering an insight into the manner in which historians operate, the skills developed through such study have a wide applicability.

Syllabus framework

The syllabus framework comprises two inter-linking parts as follows:

I: Working with evidence

II: Topics for study

I: Working with evidence

  1. a) Introduction: history and the historian
  2. b) A documents-based study
  3. c) A research study.

  • Students will be given a preliminary introduction to the nature of history and the work of the historian. This will form the basis for future work on the topics, on the documents-based study and on the research study.

  • Students will undertake a documents-based study of one of the syllabus topics as the primary means of developing their skills in working with evidence.

  • Students will undertake a research study of a significant historical subject as a means of developing further their skills in working with evidence and as the primary means of developing their research skills.

II: Topics for study

The topics are arranged in two discrete fields of study: Early Modern, 1492-1815; Later Modern, 1815-1993.

  • Students will study topics from one of the fields of study. Within each field of study, there are six topics from Irish history and six from the history of Europe and the wider world.

  • Students will study two topics from Irish history and two from the history of Europe and the wider world from the selected field of study. Two topics will be prescribed for documents-based study: one from the Early Modern field of study and one from the Later Modern field of study.

  • Students will engage in a documents-based study of the prescribed topic from their selected field of study.
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