Durham University offers Course on Harry Potter
There’ll be no flying lessons, potions or defence-against-the-dark-arts classes, but Harry Potter fans at Durham University, England, have the option of a course on the adventures of the boy wizard.
About 70 Durham undergraduates have already signed up to the module “Harry Potter and the Age of Illusion”, which will be offered for the first time later this year as part of the university’s Education Studies B.A. degree.
Thought to be the first course in the U.K. focusing on the works of J.K. Rowling, the module will require undergraduates to set the series “in its social, cultural and educational context and understand some of the reasons for its popularity”, and to consider Harry Potter’s relevance to today’s education system.
The registrar of Durham University, Carolyn Fowler, called it a “serious but innovative” academic module.
“A huge amount of work has gone into developing it, and we are extremely excited to be offering it as a study option to our undergraduate students, who have already expressed a high level of interest,” she said.
Rowling published the first Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, in 1997. The seven-book series about the adventures of the boy wizard has gone on to sell more than 400m copies around the world, and has been the subject of PhDs and academic conferences.
Fowler, however, believes the Durham course is “the first, or among the first, module of its kind in a U.K. university”.
Exploring issues such as “prejudice and intolerance, peer pressure, good citizenship and ideals of adulthood, [as well as] ways in which the Harry Potter series has helped to rebrand Britain”, the course has been reviewed and approved by the faculty’s teaching and learning committee.
“Harry Potter is a culturally iconic phenomenon and has already been the subject of many well-regarded academic studies over recent years, so it is only fitting that a leading university like Durham responds to new developments in our academic and wider social and cultural environment in developing new modules like this,” said Fowler.
There is no word yet about whether Durham will be joining the International Quidditch Association, which counts more than 400 colleges and 300 high schools among its members, the vast majority of which are from the U.S.
The game differs from the fictional version in that its participants are unable to fly; instead they run with their broomsticks held between their legs.
With a fourth annual world cup set to be held in New York this November, perhaps Durham’s undergraduates are in with a chance.