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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 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.

Class location

Classroom 3C is where Defence Against the Dark Arts class is taught. It is located on the third floor. In 1991, Professor Quirinus Quirrell taught in a different classroom because the Third Floor Corridor was out of bounds.

Classroom layout

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.

Class information

"Your defenses... therefore most be as flexible and inventive as the arts you seek to undo."
Snape during a 1996 lesson[src]
Defence Against the Dark Arts lesson

1994 Defence Against the Dark Arts lesson

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 prior to the death of Lord Voldemort, a great many teachers have been appointed.

The lessons generally have a practical approach to them, with many of the teachers (with the exception of 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 Darks O.W.L., students must sit a written exam one of the questions asks to describe the five signs of a werewolf and after sudents must complete a practical exam of; counter-jinxes, Defensive Spells, Riddikulus, and the Patronus Charm (for bonus points).[1]

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.[2]

Between 1957 and 1998, there was a different teacher for every year.

Lesson times

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]
Avada Kedavra Curse - Spider

"Moody" demonstrating the Killing Curse on a spider.

Due to the constant changing of teachers, the curriculum of Defence Against the Dark Arts varies from year to year. Each teacher has his or her own priorities, as well as his or her respective efficiencies proportional to his or her 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 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.[3] In the 1997-1998 school year, the class was changed to Dark Arts.

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 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 was simply reading out of the textbook, believing that this would be sufficient in passing the examinations. 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.

First Year

Dark creatures:


Second Year

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)[src]

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]

Dumbledore Army:

Sixth Year

Dark creatures:



Required textbooks


The Dark Forces: A Guide to Self-Protection by Quentin Trimble




Known O.W.L.s


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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.[4] Snape himself admitted to Bellatrix Lestrange that reason during their conversation in Spinner's End.[5]
  • 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.[3] Despite this working out, the year's curriculum was wasted due to Lockhart's ineptitude.
  • 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. 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.


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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