Science degree students CAO
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What can I do with a science degree?

30 Jan 2017

Have you filled out your CAO application yet? If you’re still feeling unsure, why not consider a broad degree choice that will give you maximum options for your future?

The first CAO deadline is this week (1 February) and, for students who don’t know what they want to do for the rest of their lives, this can seem quite daunting.

If you have an aptitude for science, you should definitely consider a general or common entry science programme for your CAO.

While there is a wide variety of more specific science courses, common entry science can be the best thing for students who aren’t sure what branch of science they want to pursue.

Prospective science students are able to choose a course in almost any institution in the country, and there are courses available at Level 6, 7 and 8.

General or common entry science degrees usually cover a wide range of science subjects in the first year. In second year you can specify which pathway you want to pursue. While general entry science is available in a number of Institutes of Technology and Universities, the pathways that follow vary depending on where you go.

Institute of Technology Carlow (IT Carlow)

This is a Level 8 degree for which prospective students can specialise straight away or choose the common entry option and specialise in their second year. In their first year, students will study biology, chemistry, physics, quantitative methods, laboratory science and current concepts in science. From there, you can specialise in biosciences with biopharmaceuticals, brewing and distilling, or environmental science.

Dublin City University (DCU)

DCU’s Level 8 degree in common entry science will give you an overview of biology, chemistry and physics in your first year. From there, you can enter second year of one of eight degrees: Genetics and cell biology, biotechnology, chemical and pharmaceutical science, analytical science, environmental science and technology, applied physics, physics with astronomy, or physics with biomedical sciences.

University College Dublin (UCD)

UCD offers a science degree with specific pathways from the start. The CAO code is DN200 and, when you put this on your CAO form, you will be asked to pick from a list of four options: No preference (NPF); biological, biomedical and biomolecular sciences (BBB); chemistry and chemical sciences (CCS); or mathematical, physical and geological sciences (MPG). If you choose ‘no preference’, you will be able to sample a range of subjects before specialising.

Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT)

General entry into science, Level 8, in DIT will cover biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics and nutrition in the first year. From second year onwards, there are even more options available, including forensic and environmental chemistry, science with nanotechnology, chemical sciences with medicinal chemistry, food innovation, pharmaceutical healthcare and more. There is also a Level 7 option available.

Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT)

GMIT offers Level 7 and Level 8 entry into undenominated science. After first year, students can branch into physics and instrumentation, chemical and pharmaceutical science, applied biology and biopharmaceutical science, or applied freshwater and marine biology.

NUI Galway

For students pursuing a common entry science degree in NUI Galway, there will be choices from the beginning, although a very broad science education will still be maintained until you can make refined choices in your second year. Students can pursue a more specific degree in botany and plant sciences, microbiology, biochemistry, zoology, and many more. You can also opt for electives, including French and German.

Letterkenny Institute of Technology (LYIT)

LYIT’s Level 8 common entry science degree can give students the opportunity to pursue bioanalytical science, food science and nutrition, or pharmaceutical and medicinal science. The first year will give students an overview of biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, transferrable skills, and animal and plant biology.

NUI Maynooth

Similar to NUI Galway, Maynooth offers you the chance to choose your subjects in first year, one of which is mathematics. For second year, you can either choose a double or single major. You also have the opportunity to take electives, such as languages, philosophy or entrepreneurship. Your second year options include biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering science and experimental physics.

Institute of Technology Sligo (IT Sligo)

IT Sligo offers a Level 6 higher certificate in science, which does not require a science subject at Leaving Cert level. From there you can progress to Level 7 or Level 8 in an undenominated science programme. Unlike most other common entry programmes, IT Sligo’s offers elective choices in second year to begin specialising, but you don’t definitely choose your degree path until third year. From there, you can choose medical biotechnology, environmental science, pharmaceutical science with drug development, or occupational safety and health.

Trinity College Dublin (TCD)

Similar to IT Sligo, TCD offers a broad science education for the first two years of its common-entry science degree. Students can then study one of 16 specialist areas for their final two years. There are plenty of degree paths to choose from in TCD, including plant sciences, neuroscience, genetics, immunology and geology.

Career opportunities

Due to the extremely wide range of degrees and subjects available as you pursue a science education, the career opportunities are just as far-reaching. Broadly speaking, science graduates can pursue research, laboratory work, administrative or regulatory roles, teaching, or product production.

Researchers will require a PhD, and these roles will be mainly university-based. They can be exciting, but also unstable.

If you’re interested in pursuing product production, there will be plenty of companies with roles for you. The job will be high pressure and you may have unusual work hours.

Lab technician jobs will be more about quality control and clinical trial testing. This means the hours will be more consistent.

Administrative roles or regulatory roles will be less practical in terms of scientific work, but people in those roles would need a strong understanding of scientific principles and research.

Those with a science degree can also pursue science teaching, although you will need a teaching qualification to complement your science degree.

If you’re looking for a more specific career that might inspire you, science has some pretty amazing ones.

Looking for jobs in tech or science? Check out our Employer Profiles for information on companies hiring right now and sign up for our Career Republic e-zine for a weekly digest of sci-tech careers news and advice.

Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the editor of Silicon Republic in 2023, having worked as the deputy editor since February 2020. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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