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Defence Against the Dark Arts

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"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 mandatory subject taught at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in which students learn how to magically defend themselves against Dark CreaturesDark Arts and against the other Charms.

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, a great many teachers have been appointed.

The class is mandatory from the first year until the fifth year, with the option of NEWT classes for those who qualify.

Due to the course being directly related to the Dark Arts itself, wizards with dark incline who wishes to teach would typically apply for this course, notably being Lord Voldemort and Severus Snape.


1991-1998 Curriculum

"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]

Due to the constant changing of teachers, the curriculum of Defence Against the Dark Arts varies from year to year. Each teacher has their own priorities, their respective efficiencies proportional to their beliefs and methods. Such as Quirinus Quirrell and Dolores Umbridge believing that theories are enough (which is, in fact, more hindering), while the more effective Remus Lupin, "Alastor Moody" and Severus Snape have a more balanced belief in theory and practical defence. Gilderoy Lockhart, fraudulent and incompetent, is one known teacher who has taught nothing to the classes of his respective tenure, aside from nonsensical and unrelated materials. In the 1997-1998 school year, the class was changed to Dark Arts.

"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]

During the 1995-1996 school year, the Minister for Magic, Cornelius Fudge, had gotten into his head that Headmaster Albus Dumbledore is using the students to create a private army of young 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 (i.e. Defensive spells) for Dumbledore's would-be soldiers, and supplied a syllabus based entirely on theories on avoiding conflicts instead of facing them, all of which is simply reading out of the textbook, believing that this would be sufficient in passing the examinations. This misguided believe 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.

First Year

Second Year

Third Year

Fourth Year

Fifth Year

Sixth Year

Known O.W.L.s

Defence Against the Dark Arts Book

Defence Against the Dark Arts book.

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.
  • When J. K. Rowling was asked for the reason Dumbledore would not give Severus Snape the Defence Against the Dark Arts job, the author responded that Dumbledore believed that teaching Defence Against the Dark Arts would bring out Snape's worst side, though Dumbledore finally relented in Harry's sixth year. [1]
  • JK 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.
  • Each Defense 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 had he been in his human form), Barty Crouch Jr. (disguised as Moody) attempted to kill him, Umbridge physically assaulted him (and had previously sent Dementors to attack him, though this was before she taught the subject), and Snape attacked Harry in retaliation for the latter 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 the former had insulted Minerva McGonagall.
  • Dolores Umbridge was the only female Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher in the series besides Galatea Merrythought (the latter of whom was not actually seen throughout the series, only mentioned).
  • The six professors of this subject who taught Harry each had a dark secret that he didn't 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 Defense 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) was 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 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, Quirrel, Lockhart, and Moody, respectively; this isn't true, however, because Lupin resigned rather than was fired.
  • Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle are two known students who failed their O.W.L.s in Defence Against the Dark Arts, to which the following year's respective teacher, Snape, gave them both detentions for.


Notes and references

Defence Against the Dark Arts (D.A.D.A.)
Professors: Galatea Merrythought · Quirinus Quirrell · Gilderoy Lockhart · Remus Lupin · Barty Crouch Jr. (as Alastor Moody) · Dolores Umbridge · Severus Snape ·
Amycus Carrow (as Dark Arts teacher)
Textbooks: 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
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
Spells covered under the subject: Curse of the Bogies · Knockback Jinx · Verdimillious Charm · Verdimillious Duo Spell · Verdimillious Tria · Wand-Lighting Charm · Freezing Spell · Seize and Pull Charm · Patronus Charm · Killing Curse · Cruciatus Curse · Imperius Curse · Impediment Jinx · Reductor Curse · Stunning Spell · Shield Charm · Nonverbal spells · Hex-deflection ·
Hex-Breaker · Hex Zapper
Creatures covered under the subject: Vampire bats · Iguanas · Cornish Pixies · Werewolves · Vampires · Hinkypunks · Boggarts · Red Caps · Kappas · Grindylows · Inferius

Wizarding Education
Beauxcrest Hogwarts shield DurmstrangCrest
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

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