Hogwarts academics

Potions class

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The Harry Potter Canon

"Funny, I never had the impression that I managed to teach Potter anything at all."
-- Snape discussing Harry's abilities at Potions (HBP15)

Potions class

The study of potion-making through N.E.W.T.-level.

  • takes place in a dungeon, drafty and cold
  • usually a double class
  • memorizing the properties of various potion ingredients, the composition of specific potions, and practice preparing them
  • essays on the properties of potion ingredients (occasionally analyzing how a student's practical assignment specifically went wrong and how to correct it)
  • Severus Snape was the Potions Master at Hogwarts from c. 1980 to the fall of 1996 .
  • Horace Slughorn took over as Potions Master for the 1996 - 97 school year.


  • cauldron (PS5)
  • knife (PA7)
  • mortar and pestle (GF27)
  • potion-making kit (GF10)
  • scales (brass) for measuring ingredients (PS5)

Snape, Hermione, Neville in Potions © 2001 Laura Freeman

First Year

Students make simple potions such as boil cure potion (PS8).

The final exam included a practical portion requiring the students to make a Forgetfulness Potion (PS16).

Second Year

The syllabus includes Swelling Solution (CS12) and Hair-Raising Potion (CS13).

Third Year

The syllabus includes Shrinking Solution (PA7).

Fourth Year

Students studied antidotes extensively, taking it seriously because Snape hinted that he might poison a student before Christmas to see if his or her antidote worked (GF15). Other potions on the syllabus included Wit-Sharpening Potion (GF27).

Fifth Year

The syllabus includes Draught of Peace, a tricky potion that is OWL standard, and Strengthening Solution (OP12).

Homework included

  • drawing a diagram of a Chinese Chomping Cabbage while researching ingredients (OP16)
  • researching Confusing and Befuddlement Draughts (OP18)

Sixth Year

Studied Amortentia, Draught of Living Death, Felix Felicis, and Elixir to Induce Euphoria

Homework included

  • researching Everlasting Elixirs (HBP15)

Seventh Year

Students prepare for the Potions N.E.W.T.


Rowling modeled Snape's Potions class on her own negative experiences with Chemistry:

Chemistry was my least favourite subject at school, and I gave it up as soon as I could. Naturally, when I was trying to decide which subject Harry's arch-enemy, Severus Snape, should teach, it had to be the wizarding equivalent. (Pm)


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