"Defence Against the Dark Arts Classroom. No cursing allowed."
—Notice outside the classroom[src]

Defence Against the Dark Arts (sometimes written as DADA) is a subject taught at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry[2]. In this class students learn how to magically defend themselves against Dark Creatures, the Dark Arts, and other dark charms. Offensive magic is also taught in this class, such as how to duel, which requires the use of both offensive and defensive magic.

The subject is the core class at Hogwarts. The position of Defence Against the Dark Arts professor here was once rumoured to be jinxed, as no teacher could hold the post for more than a year. Tom Marvolo Riddle jinxed the position because Dumbledore did not give him the job when he applied for it.[4] The fact that no teacher has lasted longer than a year meant that the subject has had numerous Professors.

Ilvermorny began teaching the subject in the 17th century.[2] Also Harry Potter would occasionally deliver Defence Against the Dark Arts lectures at Hogwarts.

Class information

"Your defences must therefore be as flexible and inventive as the arts you seek to undo"
—Professor Snape discussing defence during a 1996 lesson[src]
Defence Against the Dark Arts is a required subject from first year to fifth year. The curriculum of the class varies greatly depending on what the professor at the time deems appropriate. Due to the jinx on the teaching post that was present before Lord Voldemort died, many teachers have been appointed to this post.
Defence Against the Dark Arts lesson

1994 Defence Against the Dark Arts lesson on the Unforgivable Curses

The lessons generally have a practical approach, with many of the teachers (except Dolores Umbridge) believing that when it comes to the Dark Arts a practical approach is the best way, with theoretical assignments given as homework.

In the fifth year Ordinary Wizarding Level examinations are taken; as such, students are spent learning new topics and possibly revisiting the past four years of lessons (depending on the teacher). As part of their Defence Against the Dark Arts O.W.L., students must sit a written exam one of the questions asks to describe the five signs of a werewolf and after students must complete a practical exam of; counter-jinxes, defensive spells, Riddikulus, and the Patronus Charm (for bonus points).[5]

To advance to the N.E.W.T. class a student must first achieve a high O.W.L. score of either 'Outstanding' or 'Exceeds Expectations'; most teachers set the bar at 'Exceeds Expectations'.

Also, due to the course being directly related to the Dark Arts itself, dark wizards who wish to teach would typically apply for this course, notably being Lord Voldemort and Severus Snape.[6]

Location and time


Defence Against the Dark Arts classes take place on the first-floor, Class 104 in the North Tower and Classroom 3C on the third-floor. In Classroom 3C, an iron chandelier hung from the ceiling, as well as a dragon's skeleton. On one end of the classroom stands a projector that is activated by magic. Several desks and tables can be found in the classroom as well as some sets of large windows.

Lesson times

Year Day Period
First Monday second
Second fourth
Thursday first
Wednesday fourth
Third Monday fifth
Thursday fourth
Friday third
Fourth Thursday fourth/fifth
Fifth Monday fifth/sixth
Friday sixth
Sixth Monday morning
Seventh unknown unknown


"You have had five teachers in this subject so far, I believe. Naturally, these teachers will all have had their own methods and priorities. Given this confusion I am surprised so many of you scraped an O.W.L. in this subject. I shall be even more surprised if all of you manage to keep up with N.E.W.T. work, which will be much more advanced."
—Professor Snape on the curriculum's instability[src]
Killing curse spider

"Moody" demonstrating the Killing Curse on a spider during a fourth year lesson

Due to the constant changing of teachers until the jinx created by Voldemort was broken, the curriculum of Defence Against the Dark Arts varied from year to year. Each teacher had their own priorities and way of teaching, and their own respective efficiency proportional to his or her beliefs and methods, such as Quirinus Quirrell and Dolores Umbridge believing that theories are enough (which were, in fact, more hindering), while the more effective Remus Lupin, "Alastor Moody" and Severus Snape had a more balanced belief in theory and practical defence.

Gilderoy Lockhart, fraudulent and incompetent, was one known teacher who taught nothing to the classes of his respective tenure, aside from nonsensical and unrelated materials, considering that he was hired solely for the purpose of ousting him as a fraud to the world.[7] Earlier teachers from the 1985–1986 school year for example, were considered incompetent too and very rarely showed up to teach.[8]

During the 1995-1996 school year, the Minister for Magic, Cornelius Fudge, had gotten into his head that Headmaster Albus Dumbledore was using the students to create a private army of young witches and wizards to overthrow the Ministry. As such, he implanted Umbridge to become the teacher of the Defence Against the Dark Arts classes, which he believed to be the main source of training (e.g. defensive spells) for Dumbledore's would-be soldiers.

Umbridge supplied a syllabus based entirely on the theory of conflict rather facing them, all of which was simply reading out of the textbook, believing that this would be sufficient in passing the examinations. Furthermore, she herself did not teach the students, as she had them read the textbooks quietly in class and refused to answer their questions any more than to silence them. This misguided belief deprived the students on any useful lessons as even the theories are inaccurate, thus leading to the formation on Dumbledore's Army, which taught more practical defence that students from all grades found more useful. Umbridge would later claim that the spells Harry taught were deemed by the Ministry inappropriate for students at their ages.

In the 1997-1998 school year, the class was changed to Dark Arts during Voldemort's takeover of the school.

First year

"The class everyone had really been looking forward to was Defence Against the Dark Arts, but Quirrell's lessons turned out to be a bit of a joke."
—DADA lessons with Quirrell as the professor[src]

Dark creatures


Second year

"It is my job to arm you against the foulest creatures known to wizardkind. You may find yourself facing your worst fears in this room. Know only that no harm will befall you whilst I am here. I must ask you not to scream. It might provoke them!"
—Lockhart introducing Cornish Pixies[src]

Dark creatures


Third year

"Professor Lupin had complied the most unusual exam any of them had ever taken; a sort of obstacle course outside in the sun."
—Third year exam in 1994[src]

Dark creatures


Fourth year

"When it comes to the Dark Arts, I believe in a practical approach. "
Barty Crouch Jr (disguised as Alastor Moody) on his approach of the subject [src]
Students witnessed the three Unforgivable Curses used on spiders. They were also given lessons on resisting the Imperius Cruse, Harry Potter was the only one successful in his class. These demonstrations were during the 1994-1995 school year only and the Unforgivable Curses are usually covered in the sixth year N.E.W.T. class.

Dark creatures


Fifth year

"Your previous instruction in this subject has been, disturbingly, uneven. But you will be pleased to know, from now on, you will be following a carefully structured, Ministry-approved course of defensive magic."
Dolores Umbridge's excuse of depriving students of practical defence[src]

Official curriculum

Dumbledore's Army

Sixth year

"You will now divide... into pairs. One partner will attempt to jinx the other without speaking. The other will attempt to repel the jinx in equal silence. Carry on."
—A N.E.W.T. lesson on nonverbal spells[src]

Dark creatures


Known professors

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

"There is a new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, and that position is now as safe as the other teaching posts at Hogwarts, since Voldemort's death broke the jinx that kept a Defence Against the Dark Arts professor from remaining for more than a year."
J. K. Rowling stated the jinx on the DADA post has been lifted[src]

Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry 

Required textbooks


Passing Grades

Fail Grades

Known O.W.L.s

  • All known Aurors, since it is a compulsory N.E.W.T.-level; therefore O.W.L. must have been achieved before that.

Behind the scenes

  • Sixth years are supposed to be given demonstrations on what illegal curses look like; it was only in the 1994-1995 school year that this was changed to the fourth year.
  • Tom Riddle twice applied for the Defence Against the Dark Arts position, the first time shortly after graduation from Hogwarts when he was turned down by Headmaster Armando Dippet, who claimed he was too young but invited him to re-apply a few years later. Many years later, after becoming steeped in the Dark Arts and starting to use the title "Lord Voldemort", he visited the school and applied again, this time to Dumbledore. He was refused again. According to Albus Dumbledore, after the second refusal, no Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher held the post for more than one school year. Dumbledore believed that this was due to Voldemort placing a curse on the position, a belief that was popularly spread throughout the school.[4]
  • The Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher is also responsible for dealing with any Dark Arts related activities that threaten the school and its residents, as Harry and Ron expected Lockhart to enter the Chamber of Secrets and protested against his excuse of leaving under an unavoidable urgent call, while Snape was assigned to staunch the deadly curse that afflicted Katie Bell.
  • When J. K. Rowling was asked why Dumbledore would not give Severus Snape the Defence Against the Dark Arts job, Rowling responded that Dumbledore believed that teaching Defence Against the Dark Arts would bring out Snape's worst side[11], though Dumbledore finally relented in Harry's sixth year.[12] Snape admitted to Bellatrix Lestrange that reason during their conversation in Spinner's End.[13]
  • Rowling has also revealed that after Amycus Carrow was the Dark Arts teacher, a permanent teacher took the post because Voldemort's curse over the job was lifted.
  • Whilst it is known that Dumbledore did not wish Professor Snape to teach DADA for fear of relapsing into his Death Eater ways, it is also possible that (since the subject had been jinxed) he was also thinking of Snape's physical well-being (not least of all because of how much of importance he could have been, and was, in the long run). Despite Dumbledore's fear, however, Snape did not truly return to his old ways when granted the position he sought for, though he did teach the lessons with a sense of passion for the Dark Arts.
  • Dumbledore hired the incompetent Gilderoy Lockhart as a means to expose him for the credit-stealing fraud he is, believing that a normal school environment would be the best place to achieve that.[7] Despite this working out, the year's curriculum was wasted due to Lockhart's ineptitude.
  • Each Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher attacked (or attempted to attack) Harry.
    • Quirrell tried to strangle Harry and jinxed his broom during a Quidditch game
    • Lockhart attempted to erase his memories
    • Lupin went after him as a werewolf (although he alone out of all the others would never have attacked Harry if he had been in his human form)
    • Barty Crouch Jr (disguised as Moody) tried to kill him
    • Umbridge physically assaulted him (and had previously sent Dementors to attack him, though this was before she taught the subject)
    • Snape attacked Harry in retaliation for Harry trying to curse him during the Battle of the Astronomy Tower
    • Ironically, Amycus Carrow, who taught Dark Arts instead of Defence Against the Dark Arts, was attacked by Harry Potter after Amycus had insulted Minerva McGonagall.
  • Dolores Umbridge was the only female Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher in the series besides Galatea Merrythought; Galatea was not seen throughout the series, only mentioned.
  • The six professors of this subject who taught Harry each had a dark secret that he did not learn until near the end of their respective school years:
    • Quirrell was serving Voldemort and was possessed by him.
    • Lockhart was a cowardly fraud who covertly stole the achievements of others.
    • Lupin was a werewolf.
    • Moody was actually Barty Crouch Jr, an escaped Death Eater.
    • Umbridge was the one who sent the Dementors that attacked Harry and Dudley.
    • Snape was the one who had reported the prophecy to Voldemort and was the Half-Blood Prince.
  • During his tenure as Potions Master, Severus Snape only accepted students who achieved an 'Outstanding' on their OWLs into his NEWT-level Potions classes. However, when Snape became the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher in the 1996–1997 school year, students who achieved 'Exceeds Expectations' were still allowed to take the NEWT-level DADA classes.
  • The only book to have twice been assigned for this subject is The Dark Forces: A Guide to Self-Protection.
  • Most of the Defence Against the Dark Arts teachers in Harry's six years at Hogwarts followed a similar pattern: each (with the exception of Quirrell and Snape).
    • They were an entirely new teacher; each was chosen out of necessity, due to the loss of the previous instructor and the absence of other applicants
    • each meets Harry before he arrives at Hogwarts in the respective year (with the exception of Mad-Eye Moody, who was only mentioned in passing, although Harry had unknowingly encountered Barty Crouch Jr at the Quidditch World Cup)
    • and each physically (or magically) attacks Harry during school term, either intentionally or accidentally, as in the case of Remus Lupin.
  • In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, when discussing who their new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher would be, Harry said that the teachers didn't have much luck: "One sacked, one dead, one lost his memory, and one was locked in a trunk for nine months," referring to Lupin, Quirrell, Lockhart, and Moody, respectively; this isn't true, however, because Lupin resigned rather than was fired. Also, Crouch Jr, the de facto teacher for Harry's fourth year, suffered the Dementor's Kiss.
  • Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle are two known students who failed their O.W.L.s in Defence Against the Dark Arts, for which the following year's respective teacher, Snape, gave them both detentions.
  • Quirinus Quirrell is the only Defence Against The Dark Arts Teacher known to have died during the year he gave the subject.


Notes and references

  1. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Writing by J.K. Rowling: "Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry" at Pottermore
  3. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 5 (Diagon Alley)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 20 (Lord Voldemort's Request)
  5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 31 (O.W.L.s)
  6. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  7. 7.0 7.1 Writing by J.K. Rowling: "Gilderoy Lockhart" at Pottermore
  8. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery
  9. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 18 (Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs) Remus Lupin - "“I was a very small boy when I received the bite...But then Dumbledore became Headmaster, and he was sympathetic." Writing by J.K. Rowling: "Remus Lupin" at Pottermore - Lupin was attacked shortly before his fifth birthday (March 1965) and Headmaster Dumbledore comes to visit shortly before his eleventh birthday (March 1971) so Dumbledore succeeded Dippet as headmaster during this time.
  10. Finished ‘Potter’? Rowling tells what happens next at Today (26 Jul 2007)
  12. Interview from Quick Quote Quill
  13. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 2 (Spinner's End)

Defence Against the Dark Arts (D.A.D.A.)
D.A.D.A. at Hogwarts
Classroom 3C · Temporary Classroom · Hogwarts Turris Magnus · Professor's Office · Storeroom · Staircase · Lesson Cup · Race Cup · Dumbledore's Army
Albus Dumbledore · Galatea Merrythought · Patricia Rakepick · Quirinus Quirrell · Gilderoy Lockhart · Remus Lupin · Barty Crouch Jr. (as Alastor Moody) · Dolores Umbridge · Severus Snape · Amycus Carrow (as Dark Arts teacher)
The Dark Forces: A Guide to Self-Protection · Break with a Banshee · Gadding with Ghouls · Holidays with Hags · Travels with Trolls · Voyages with Vampires · Wanderings with Werewolves · Year with the Yeti · The Essential Defence Against the Dark Arts · Defensive Magical Theory · Dark Arts Defence: Basics for Beginners · Confronting the Faceless · Magical Drafts and Potions
Spells studied at Hogwarts under D.A.D.A.
Curse of the Bogies · Disarming Charm · Freezing Spell · Hex-Breaker· Hex-deflection · Hex Zapper · Impediment Jinx · Knockback Jinx · Nonverbal spells · Reductor Curse · Seize and Pull Charm · Shield Charm · Stunning Spell · Verdimillious Charm · Verdimillious Duo Spell · Verdimillious Tria · Wand-Lighting Charm · Cruciatus Curse · Imperius Curse · Killing Curse
Creatures studied at Hogwarts under D.A.D.A.
Boggart · Cornish Pixie · Grindylow · Hinkypunk · Iguana · Inferius · Kappa
· Red Cap · Vampire · Vampire bat · Werewolf

Wizarding Education
Ilvermorny Crest 4
The Eleven Schools Beauxbatons · Castelobruxo · Durmstrang · Hogwarts · Ilvermorny · Koldovstoretz · Mahoutokoro · Uagadou
Specialised schools Academy of Broom Flying · Charm School · Euro-Glyph School of Extraordinary Languages · Merge School of Under-Water Spellage · Wizarding Academy of Dramatic Arts
Examinations First year exams · Second year exams · Third year exams · Fourth year exams · Ordinary Wizarding Level · Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Test
Core classes Astronomy · Charms · Defence Against the Dark Arts · Herbology · History of Magic · Potions · Transfiguration
Elective classes Alchemy · Arithmancy · Care of Magical Creatures · Divination · Muggle Studies · Study of Ancient Runes
Extra-curricular classes Apparition · Advanced Arithmancy Studies · Ancient Studies · Art · Flying · Frog Choir · Ghoul Studies · Hogwarts orchestra · Magical Theory · Muggle Art · Muggle Music · Music · Xylomancy