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Visitor's Guide to Hogwarts

Classes

Classes at Hogwarts are taught in a variety of locations about the castle. Some, such as Charms, are taught in classrooms inside the castle. Others take place in the greenhouses (Herbology), in the dungeons (Potions), at the top of a tower (Astronomy), or even outside on the grounds (Flying and Care of Magical Creatures). A booming bell sounds throughout the castle and across the lawns to signal the end of class.

The classes vary in length, in content, and in approach. There are separate classes for each year and these are usually taught to groups from specific houses together. Some classes, however, are taught with larger groups of students from two houses. Some classes are "double," which seems to mean that they last twice as long as a normal class. Many classes have both a 'theory' portion and a 'practical' (or in U.S. parlance, 'lab') portion, so that the students gain hands-on experience in the subject.

The teachers vary tremendously in their skill as instructors and in their expertise. Many are among the most skilled in their fields, but there is considerable variation regarding their actual skill in leading their students to learn their subjects.

Some of the Hogwarts staff have first-class abilities both in their subject matter and in conveying it to their students. McGonagall, for example, is both a master of Transfiguration as one of the few Animagi of the twentieth century, and an excellent and even-handed teacher. Flitwick's good humor tends to lead one into overlooking that not only do his students learn his subject, but nearly all of them achieve a Charms O.W.L.

Some, however, like Snape, Hagrid, and Binns, are among the most skilled in their fields, but have distinct drawbacks when considered as teachers. In the case of the Potions Master, his treatment of his students overshadows his talents as a brewer of potions, while Hagrid tends to overlook the fact that most people lack his instincts (and let's face it, his massive physique) in dealing with the dangerous creatures that are his chief joy. Binns, to take another example, is so devoted to his subject that even death couldn't deflect him from its pursuit, and the only passion we've ever seen him display was on the subject of historical fact. Yet his lecturing style is ordinarily so deadly dull that even giant wars become monotonous in his hands, and students are so disengaged that asking a question in class is an event. (Even Hermione has only once spoken up in class to ask a question.)

The specific subjects available at Hogwarts are given below.

Ancient Runes

teacher Bathsheba Babbling (uncertain)
textbook various rune dictionaries, Ancient Runes Made Easy
Magical Hieroglyphs and Logograms (OP26) which was on the top of Hermione's "tottering pile of Ancient Rune books."
Spellman's Syllabary (OP26)
  Classwork/homework includes plenty of practice interpreting runes. The O.W.L. involves translating something written in runes into English.

Arithmancy

teacher Professor Vector
textbook Numerology and Gramatica
  (See Arithmancy page for more details, or the calendar pages for the individual books.)

Astronomy

teacher Professor Sinistra
textbook None specified for first year or subsequent years, but the O.W.L.. has a theory as well as a practical component.
  Meets at midnight at the top of the Astronomy Tower. Essays for the theory portion involve learning a lot of facts (Ron and Harry's fifth year essay on Jupiter's moons is the best example). During their practical O.W.L., the fifth years had to fill in a star chart by locating and correctly identifying various celestial bodies then visible in the sky (OP31).

Care of Magical Creatures

teacher Hagrid (1993 - present); Grubbly-Plank sometimes substitutes for him, however. (Kettleburn taught through the 1992-1993 school year)
textbook Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, The Monster Book of Monsters
  Classwork usually consists of handling, feeding, controlling various creatures. Homework included drawing a detailed diagram of a bowtruckle with all parts labeled.

Charms

teacher Professor Flitwick
textbook The Standard Book of Spells (?)
  Classwork involves trying various charms, such as Cheering Charm.

Defence Against the Dark Arts

teacher Quirrell (1991), Lockhart (1992), Lupin (1993), fake Moody (1994), Umbridge (1995), Snape (1996), Amycus Carrow (1997)
textbook The Dark Forces: A Guide to Self-Protection, Defensive Magical Theory, Confronting the Faceless
[NOTE: Lockhart assigned virtually his own complete works instead, but he was a self-serving idiot, so that doesn't count (and if you really want to know, look him up in the Authors list). We're not explicitly told what Lupin used, but since he wouldn't have used a useless textbook and Harry didn't have to buy a new one, we deduce that Lupin reverted to Trimble, which the fake Moody also used.

She-Who-Must-Be-Obey...er, She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Nam..., oh, all right, Umbridge - relied solely on Wilbert Slinkhard's Defensive Magical Theory. - MLW]

 
  • classwork varies depending on the teacher, but studies evil magic and creatures and how to cope with them
  • year one: general overview
  • year two: basic Dark creatures
  • year three: intermediate Dark creatures
  • year four: curses
  • year five: no idea what a competent teacher would have set; as it was, just read the Slinkhard book
  • year six: Dementors, Inferi

Divination

teacher Professor Trelawney (up to 1995 - 1996), Firenze (1995 - 1996). After that, Trelawney took the N.E.W.T. classes while Firenze took the others, much to Trelawney's displeasure.
textbook Unfogging the Future, The Dream Oracle
 

An elective, offered beginning in third year, this course covers reading tea leaves, palmistry, crystal balls, astrology, and more. Firenze's emphasis as a centaur is somewhat different from Trelawney's.

Although centaurs, like humans, practice astrology, they go about it with a different emphasis. In their view, divination is far more useful for predicting large changes than day-to-day trivial events.

Trelawney's classroom is located at the top of North Tower near her living quarters. Firenze, however, being a centaur, couldn't be expected to get up there, as ParvatiLavender pointed out when he took over the class during the 1995 - 1996 school year. Firenze's lectures take place in classroom 11, which is located along the ground floor corridor on the opposite side of the entrance hall from the Great Hall (OP27).

Flying

teacher Madam Hooch
textbook none, practical only
  Teaching students to fly on broomsticks. We have only been shown one class period at the beginning of first year in this subject.

Herbology

teacher Professor Sprout
textbook One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi
 
  • class takes place in the greenhouses outside the castle
  • second years work in Greenhouse Three, where there are more interesting and dangerous plants
  • second years: repotting Mandrakes
  • fourth years: harvest Bubotuber pus

History of Magic

teacher Professor Binns
textbook A History of Magic
  Extremely boring lectures on various aspects of magical history. However, the boredom is due to Binns' teaching style, not the material itself, which tends to emphasize vicious goblin riots, outright goblin rebellions, and giant wars.

Muggle Studies

teacher Charity Burbage (? - 1997), Alecto Carrow (1997 - 1998)
textbook Home Life and Social Habits of British Muggles (PA13)
  Classwork includes charts showing Muggles lifting heavy objects without magic, understanding the importance of electricity to Muggle technology, and so on. The emphasis, like Arthur Weasley's enthusiasms, appears to focus solely on the physical aspects of life without magic, without mention of cultural differences. (See Muggle Studies page for more details, or the calendar pages for the individual books.)

Potions

teacher Professor Severus Snape, then Professor Horace E. F. Slughorn
textbook Magical Drafts and Potions, also One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi (OP17) and Advanced Potion-Making (HBP9)
 
  • usually a double class
  • takes place in a dungeon, drafty and cold
  • memorizing the properties of various potion ingredients, the composition of specific potions, and practice preparing them
  • essays on the properties of potion ingredients (and occasionally analyzing how a student's practical assignment specifically went wrong and how to correct it)

Transfiguration

teacher Professor McGonagall
textbook A Beginner's Guide to Transfiguration, Intermediate Transfiguration, Guide to Advanced Transfiguration
  Classwork includes lectures and practical, such as changing beetles into buttons. (See Transfiguration page for details on the specific lessons, or the calendar pages for the individual books.)

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Original page date 17-February-2001; Last page update 19-August-2007 MLW