News Q&A: Alternative entry route to Ag Science degree course

Agriculture Minister Michael Creed with students at the 2017 UCD agriculture, food science and human nutrition careers day. 

Agricultural science courses have become increasingly popular among students, and the CAO points required for entry to such courses have increased.

If agricultural science is your preferred course, but you fear you may not get the points required, it’s important to have a back up plan.

Students often overlook the benefits and opportunities that post-Leaving Certificate (PLC) courses present.

You should consider using the PLC route to gain access to your preferred level 8 course.

What is a post-Leaving Certificate (PLC) course?

A PLC is a one or two-year course that can provide you with a Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) level five or six certificate.

Many graduates have gone on to enjoy prosperous

careers thanks to their PLC course.

What PLC course can I complete to gain entry to one of the degree programmes at the UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science?

There are three one-year PLC QQI-FET courses that you can complete, in order to gain entry to the UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science.

You can complete either of the level 5 qualification in

Applied Science Laboratory Techniques (5M3807), the level 5 Animal Care course (5M2768), or the level 5 Horticulture course (5M2586).

Which degree programmes can I eligible to apply for after completing one of the PLC courses?

If you complete the

Applied Science Laboratory Techniques (5M3807) course, you can apply for entry to all the agricultural science

degree programmes, including Forestry, Horticulture, Landscape and Sportsturf Management, and the BSc in Food Science Degree programme.

If you complete the Animal Care course (5M2768), you can apply for entry to the following: Agricultural Science (DN250), Agricultural Systems Technology, Animal and Crop Production, Animal Science, Animal Science - Equine and Food and Agribusiness Management.

If you complete the Horticulture course (5M2586), you can apply for entry to the Horticulture, Landscape and Sportsturf Management programmes.

Do I have to complete certain modules (subjects) as part of the course in order to gain entry?

If you complete the

Applied Science Laboratory Techniques course, you must pass the course, and obtain a distinction (80% or better) in at least five specified modules.

In the Animal Care course, you must pass, and achieve a distinction (80% or better) in at least five specified modules.

In the Horticulture course, you must pass and achieve a

distinction (80% or better) in at least five specified modules.

Once I complete a QQI FET course and meet the requirements, am I guaranteed a place in stage one of an agriculture degree programme?

No, entry is on a competitive basis. There will be 25 places on offer for students

entering UCD through the QQI FET route in September, 2017.

Where can I get information on where the PLC courses are


Visit and click on courses.

In the drop down menu, click PLC course finder. Enter the course name or code, and a list of all courses matching your search will appear, along with the name of the college offering the course.

What do I do next?

Visit the website and check which PLC colleges in your area offer the courses. Check that the modules meet the UCD criteria, and contact the PLC college for an application form, or apply online.

Many PLC course colleges are currently accepting applications and holding interviews. Often there are no deadlines for these courses, however, popular courses fill quickly, so apply immediately if you are interested in the PLC route.

Students apply directly to each PLC college they are interested in. The application forms are normally straightforward. Once the application is received, the applicant will be invited for interview.

Minimum academic qualifications for PLC courses are normally five passes at Leaving Cert, with some requiring specific subjects such as maths.

If you commence your PLC course this year, then you apply to the CAO as normal for your preferred UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science programme the following year.

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