"History of Magic by common consent the most boring subject ever devised by Wizard-kind. Professor Binns, their ghost teacher, had a wheezy, droning voice that was almost guaranteed to cause severe drowsiness within ten minutes, five in warm weather."
Harry Potter's description of the class[src]

History of Magic is a core class and subject taught at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. This class is a study of magical history.[1] This is one of the subjects where the use of magic practically is not necessary. History of Magic is taught from the first year to the fifth, and is completed with an O.W.L. exam with only a written section.[4]

The professor of this subject, Cuthbert Binns, taught at Hogwarts for many years before his death, and even after his death he continued teaching at Hogwarts as a ghost.[1]

Class information

"My subject is History of Magic. I deal with facts, Miss Granger, not myths and legends."
— Professor Binns[src]

The lesson plan usually consists of lectures on the 'History of Wizards and the Magical World' (in which goblin rebellions appear most memorably). This class is similar to the study of History in the Muggle World, as particular emphasis is placed upon remembering dates, names and events.[1]

The class is currently taught by the ghost of Professor Cuthbert Binns. According to Hogwarts folklore, Professor Binns has failed to notice that he is dead: he simply got up from his chair in the staff-room one morning and left his body behind.[1][3]

As Professor Binns was very old at the time of his death, he was very set in his ways and students find him difficult to relate to. Binns' lessons consisted of him reciting (or "droning", as many would put it) lectures to his students. He did not seem to mind (or notice) that the class rarely paid attention or even slept through his class (with the exception of Hermione Granger, who alone "seemed able to resist the soporific power of Binns' voice"). Ron Weasley and Harry Potter both found History of Magic terribly boring, and only managed to pass the class by borrowing Hermione's notes.[5]

When Hermione ventured a question, Professor Binns did not even remember her name, calling her "Miss Grant," even though she was the only person in his class that actually paid attention. Professor Binns was also very dismissive of the legend of Chamber of Secrets when he responded to Hermione's question about it, calling it "Legend" and maintaining that he taught only "Fact".[3]

During class, Binns sometimes fell asleep and students played and practised games. Peeves and other Hogwarts ghosts sometimes came in and lectured the class.

Location and time


History of Magic classes take place in Class 72 on the third-floor and Classroom 4F on the first-floor. Classroom 4F was filled the room with books on history, with a Draconifors spellbook locked in a side-room, protected with minor magical defences.[6]

Lesson times

Year Day Period
First Thursday second
Second Second
Friday Fourth
Third Wednesday morning
Fourth Tuesday
Fifth Monday first/second (first half)
Sixth unknown unknown


First year

"One hour of answering questions about batty old wizards who'd invented Self-Stirring Cauldrons and they'd be free..."
— First year exam in 1992[src]

Second year

"Professor Binns opened his notes and began to read in a flat drone like an old vacuum cleaner until nearly everyone in the class was in a deep stupor, occasionally coming to long enough to copy down a name or date, then falling asleep again."
— A History of Magic lesson in 1992[src]

Third year

"I’ve rewritten my whole History of Magic essay to include some of the things I’ve found out, I hope it’s not too long — it’s two rolls of parchment more than Professor Binns asked for."
Hermione Granger telling Harry Potter about her third year History of Magic homework[src]

Fourth year

"Meanwhile Professor Binns, the ghost who taught History of Magic, had them writing weekly essays on the goblin rebellions of the eighteenth century."
— Professor Binns setting fourth year homework.[src]

Fifth year

"Today, they suffered an hour and a half's droning on the subject of giant wars."
— A fifth year lesson[src]

Sixth year

Seventh year

Known professors

Required textbook


Passing Grades

Fail Grades

Known O.W.L.s

Behind the scenes

  • As Binns became a ghost, he can no longer move beyond the veil, and will remain earthbound for all eternity. This means that unless he resigned or was sacked, he would be the History of Magic teacher forever. This is probably the reason that the school has not sacked him thus far, despite his dreadful teaching technique. Although it could be that sometime after the Second Wizarding War that a more engaging teacher took over from Binns, as it was crucial and neccessary for more students to make the subject far more interesting and to increase the chance for students to at least achieve a passing grade on their O.W.L. exam.
  • No student is known to have continued at N.E.W.T. level in this subject and so it is unknown exactly what the curriculum would be at this level. Hermione received an 'Outstanding' O.W.L. and thus would have been automatically cleared to continue the subject, but she chose not to continue studying it, despite seeming to have somewhat of an aptitude for it. It could be that this was because of the maximum number of N.E.W.T. classes a student could take, or because the subject only has an O.W.L. exam. It is also unknown if any careers in the Wizarding world specifically require the study of this subject. When she, Harry and Ron were studying Careers Advice, neither an O.W.L. or N.E.W.T. in History of Magic was mentioned as a specific requirement for any of the careers they studied. Although it could be a recommendation for jobs like Curse-Breaker, which require knowledge of several ancient locations, periods and ways of using magic.
  • Ancient Studies may be a specific specialised branch of this subject, which is only taught about in N.E.W.T.-level classes. Maybe also partially in Study of Ancient Runes.
  • It could be that the extended theory and history of Alchemy is, at least partially, taught in this class.
  • Aside from a brief mention in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Professor Binns and the class are omitted from the film series. However, History of Magic is seen in some of the early video games, and Binns is included in the LEGO video games.
  • In Hogwarts Mystery, if players take Jacob's sibling to the O.W.L. through an optional side quest, they will definitely gain at least an A, even if they fail to answer every question.


Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 8 (The Potions Master)
  2. 2.0 2.1 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 5 (Diagon Alley)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 9 (The Writing on the Wall)
  4. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 31 (O.W.L.s)
  5. 5.0 5.1 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 12 (Professor Umbridge)
  6. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (video game)
  7. 7.0 7.1 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (video game)
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 16 (Through the Trapdoor)
  9. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 1 (Owl Post)
  10. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 15 (Beauxbatons and Durmstrang)
  11. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 5, Chapter 3 (Detention Before Extension) - History of Magic Lesson "Medieval Assembly of European Wizards"
  12. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 5, Chapter 5 (Penny, Portraits, Peace, and Pressure) - History of Magic Lesson "Giant Wars"
  13. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 5, Chapter 11 (Mundungus Fletcher) - History of Magic Lesson "Goblin Rebellion of 1612"
  14. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 5, Chapter 15 (Secrets and Lies) - History of Magic Lesson "International Statute of Secrecy"
  15. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 5, Chapter 19 (The Unforgivable Curses) - History of Magic Lesson "Witch Hunts of 14th Century"
  16. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 5, Chapter 28 (About Merula) - History of Magic Lesson "Werewolf Code of Conduct"
  17. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 5, Chapter 32 (The Trouble With Ben) - History of Magic Lesson "International Warlock Convention of 1289"
  18. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 6, Chapter 2 (Curses and Prophecies) - History of Magic Lesson "History of Wandlore"
  19. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 6, Chapter 5 (Wherefore Art Thou, Weasleys?) - History of Magic Lesson "Uprising of Elfric the Eager"
  20. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 6, Chapter 10 (Cloaks and Conflicts) - History of Magic Lesson "Witch Trials of 1692"
  21. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 6, Chapter 15 (In the Deep End) - History of Magic Lesson "Wendelin the Weird"
  22. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 6, Chapter 18 (Into the Forest) - History of Magic Lesson "Gargoyle Strike of 1911"
  23. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 6, Chapter 22 (The Exchange Student) - History of Magic Lesson "Dissolving of the Wizards' Council"
  24. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 6, Chapter 28 (Moving On) - History of Magic Lesson "Ancient Runes"
  25. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 6, Chapter 33 (Imitation Game) - History of Magic Lesson "Owl Airforce"
  26. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 6, Chapter 36 (Search for the Mole)
  27. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 6, Chapter 43 (What's Next) - History of Magic Lesson "14th Century Wizarding Economic Bubble"
  28. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 7, Chapter 2 (More Questions Than Answers) - History of Magic "Emeric the Evil"
  29. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 5 (An Excess of Phlegm)
Hogwarts Curriculum
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
Extracurricular classes Apparition · Advanced Arithmancy Studies · Ancient Studies · Art · Flying · Ghoul Studies · Magical Theory · Muggle Art · Muggle Music · Music · Xylomancy
First year exams · Second year exams · Third year exams · Fourth year exams ·
Ordinary Wizarding Level · Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Test
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