UK university to offer a masters degree in magic

The University of Exeter will offer a masters degree in magic in 2024. Credit: Artem Maltsev on Unsplash
The University of Exeter will offer a masters degree in magic in 2024. Credit: Artem Maltsev on Unsplash

A university in the UK will offer a masters degree in magic in 2024.

The University of Exeter has launched a new postgraduate course called ‘Magic and Occult Science’, which will see students learn about the history of witchcraft and the impact magic has had on societies around the world. Professor Emily Selove, course leader, said the MA had been created following a “recent surge in interest in magic”.

Academics with expertise in history, literature, philosophy, archaeology, sociology, psychology, drama, and religion will all contribute to teaching, making the degree one of the only of its kind in the UK to combine the study of magic with such a wide range of other subjects.

Modules on offer include ‘The Western Dragon in Lore, Literature, and Art’, ‘the legend of King Arthur’, ‘Philosophy and Psychedelics’, and ‘The Sovereign, the Good, and Society in Islamic Thought’.

The first cohort for the course is due in September 2024. UK students will pay £12,000 to study the one-year programme full-time, while international students will be asked to fork out £24,300.

Professor Selove said: “A recent surge in interest in magic and the occult inside and outside of academia lies at the heart of the most urgent questions of our society. Decolonisation, the exploration of alternative epistemologies, feminism, and anti-racism are at the core of this programme.”

She also highlighted that the course will sit within the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, remarking: “This MA will allow people to re-examine the assumption that the West is the place of rationalism and science, while the rest of the world is a place of magic and superstition.”

It comes just a couple months after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak promised to clamp down on so-called ‘Mickey Mouse’ degrees, saying he wants to introduce a cap on the number of students that can be accepted to “rip off” university courses which are studied “at the taxpayers’ expense”.

He said that limits will be imposed on courses that have high dropout rates, or have a low proportion of graduates which secure a professional job after leaving university.

Critics slammed the proposals however, with University Alliance’s Head of Policy, Susanna Kalitowski, claiming it is “ludicrous” to link the ‘quality’ of a degree to earnings.

She added that it is “no benefit to anyone” to cut the number of students enrolling onto ‘low value’ degree courses - pointing out that the Office for Students (OfS) already has powers to impose recruitment limits on courses which breach certain minimum thresholds for continuation, progression, and completion.

Therefore, she argued that the government is using “hyperbolic language” as the announcement will “change very little” in reality.

Meanwhile, opposition MPs attacked the new measures as an “attack” on young people’s aspirations - and a move that would prevent them from making their own choices.

The University of Exeter said its ‘Magic and Occult Science’ degree could prepare students for careers in teaching, counselling, mentoring, heritage and museum work, work in libraries, tourism, arts organisations, or the publishing industry.