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AimsSyllabus structureExam format | Comparison with current syllabus

Guide to the new Home Economics syllabus
By Eimear Fitzgerald

A new syllabus for Leaving Certificate Home Economics was introduced to schools in November 2002 and will be examined for the first time in June 2004.

It involves a major revamp of the existing Home Economics (Social and Scientific) course, a new structure of core material and elective components, and an emphasis on practical assessment. The new syllabus will also incorporate elements of the Home Economics (General) course — notably textiles, fashion and design — as that course will be examined for the final time in June 2003.


“Home Economics – scientific and social is an applied subject combining theory with practice in order to develop understanding and solve problems. It is concerned with the way individuals and families manage their resources to meet physical, emotional, intellectual, social and economic needs.

The aims of the syllabus include the following:

  • To provide continuity and progression from the aims and content of the Junior Certificate home economics programme.
  • To allow students acquire and develop the knowledge, understanding, skills, competence and attitudes necessary to contribute to a personal and family environment conducive to human development, health and happiness.
  • To provide a suitable basis for the formation of post-school life, with the emphasis on future education and employment needs; to include the particular needs of the food industry, clothing, textile and craft industries, tourism, social and health services.
  • To encourage students to develop and apply the management skills necessary for the effective organisation and management of available resources to satisfy personal and family needs in a continuously changing economic, social and technological climate.”

[Source: Department of Education and Science, Leaving Certificate Home Economics syllabus]

Syllabus Structure

The new syllabus consists of compulsory core material plus three elective areas, with the student free to choose one of these areas for extra study.


Proportion of course (%)  

 Core Food Studies


  Resource management and consumer studies


  Social studies


 Elective 1 Home design and management

20 each

 Elective 2 Textiles, fashion and design  
 Elective 3 Social studies  


It is recommended that the subject be taught within a framework that integrates the related elements and processes within each of the three areas of the core and the selected elective.

Exam Format

“Assessment will be in the form of a terminal written examination and an assessment of practical work, which is an integral part of the study of home economics. There will also be an assessment of practical work for those candidates who study the textiles, fashion and design elective.
Practical work is an integral component of the syllabus. Practical activities provide opportunities for achieving the syllabus objectives as the content is studied.”
[Source: Department of Education and Science, Leaving Certificate Home Economics syllabus]

It is envisaged that practical work will become a more significant part of the assessment process in the new syllabus, with up to 20% of the total marks available for this component. It is proposed that students will be required to complete standardised journals provided by the Department with details of their practical work for assessment. More detail on the exam format and assessment will be made available to schools and teachers via Department guidelines over the coming months.

Comparison with the Current Syllabus

The new revised syllabus displays some significant changes in content from the ‘old’ course, most notably the removal of the large section on Human Physiology and the introduction of a section on Textiles, Fashion and Design.

Below is a summary of the principal changes for ease of reference:

Material from existing syllabus that is not on the new course


Food tests  to show the presence of proteins, fats and carbohydrates      

Human physiology  The systems of the body (circulatory, lymph, nervous etc) apart from those sections necessary to support other parts of the syllabus such as digestion and absorption.
Social studies  Migration and emigration.The list of social problems has been reduced to facilitate more detailed treatment e.g. alcohol, drugs and gangs.
The home  Drainage; composition of floor coverings; composition of cleaning materials.Mostly moved into the elective on Home Design and Management
Household appliances  Reduced to the study of four appliances – microwave, refrigerator, motor appliance, heating appliance

New material for the revised syllabus


Factors affecting food choices
Current food habits and trends
Current dietary guidelines
Energy values of individual foods and meals
Maintaining a healthy body weight
The Irish diet
CIS and trans-fatty acids
The Irish food industry
Critical evaluation of dishes or meals prepared and cooked and the conducting of comparative assessments of home-made and commercial products or meals.
Profiles of three types of processed food.
The role of national agencies in food safety. 

Resource management   The management process and its application.
Textiles in the home.
Small claims procedure.
Social studies  Exploration of a number of definitions for the family.All relevant legislation has been updated.
Elective 1: home design and management  Housing styles.
The provision of housing.
Energy efficiency.
Elective 2: Textiles, fashion and design  All new material
Elective 3: Social studies  Social change and the family.
Reconciling employment with family responsibilities.
Statutory and community responses to creating employment and eliminating poverty.

Eimear Fitzgerald is a former chairperson of the Association of Teachers of Home Economics and is Head of Department in Sutton Park school in Dublin.


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