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Former Potions Master, Severus Snape surrounded by potion-making equipment

"Now then, I've prepared a few potions for you to have a look at, just out of interest, you know."
— Horace Slughorn teaching his sixth-year pupils[src]

Potions Master[1] was the title given to the Potions Professor at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. They were in charge of teaching their subject to the students of Hogwarts in a classroom in the dungeons, and they owned an office, described as a "water closet", nearby, as well as brewing specialised potions in times of need, such as the Mandrake Restorative Draught[2] and Wolfsbane Potion.[3]

Swoopstikes was once Potions Master. Horace Slughorn held the post from at least 1920 until his retirement in 1981, when Severus Snape took his place. However, Slughorn returned in 1996 when Snape became the Defence Against the Dark Arts Professor, though Slughorn took Galatea Merrythought's old office while Snape kept the one in the dungeons.


Professor Horace Slughorn

Harry Potter: "My mother..."
Horace Slughorn: "You shouldn't have favourites as a teacher, of course, but she was one of mine."
— Professor Slughorn talking to Harry Potter.[src]

Around 1920, a wizard named Horace Slughorn, who had previously studied at the school as a Slytherin, arrived at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and was employed as Potions master. The Headmaster, and Slughorn's employer, was Professor Armando Dippet, who gave him the Potions master's office in the dungeons, though Slughorn hated it and described it as a "water-closet." At some point, he was also made Head of Slytherin House.[4]

Professor Slughorn and his Slug Club

Slughorn was described as a good teacher, but chose favourites out of the classes that he taught, sometimes for their ambition or their brains, sometimes for their charm or their talent, and he had an uncanny knack for choosing those who would go on to become outstanding in their various fields. Horace formed a club named the "Slug Club", of which his favourites were members with himself at the centre, making introductions, forging useful contacts between members, and always reaping some kind of benefit in return. Among them were Tom Riddle, Gwenog Jones, Ambrosius Flume, Dirk Cresswell, Lucius Malfoy and, one of his absolute favourites, Lily Evans.[4][5]

Professor Severus Snape

"Cruel, sarcastic and disliked by everybody except the students in his own house (Slytherin), Snape taught Potions."
— A description of Severus Snape.[src]

The new Potions master - Severus Snape

In the school year of 1981 Professor Slughorn, in an effort to avoid questioning of a certain event he was too ashamed of, decided to resign from both of his positions at the school.[4] In his place the new Headmaster (Albus Dumbledore) hired Severus Snape. Snape was one of Slughorn's ex-pupils and while he attended Hogwarts he proved to be very talented in the art of potion-making. Snape became both Potions master and Head of Slytherin House. After accepting the job Snape took ownership of his predecessor's office and the Potions Classroom. After taking possession of both he proceeded to impress his personality upon the rooms, in a rather gloomy fashion.[6]

Professor Snape was a ruthless disciplinarian, with little patience for foolishness, yet effective in his job and well respected by other professors. His deep understanding of potion brewing, as shown by his expert concoction of Wolfsbane Potion in 1993,[3] transformed the knowledge of potions from mere chemistry to an art. Despite his effectiveness his biased liking for his own house, Slytherin, led him to give them undeserved lenience. While at the same time degrading other students (mainly Harry Potter and Neville Longbottom) going as far as to vanish Harry's potion for a slight mistake while bullying Neville constantly.[1][7]

But in 1996, Snape was granted his original, fervent and oft-repeated wish and was made Professor of Defence Against the Dark Arts, leaving the position of Potions master vacant.[8] Snape taught Defence Against the Dark Arts fairer than he did Potions, suggesting he was biased as a Potions Master as a means to vent out his frustrations of not getting the position he desired.[9]

Professor Horace Slughorn's return

"We are pleased to welcome a new member of our staff this year. Professor Slughorn is a former colleague of mine who has agreed to resume his old post of Potions master."
Albus Dumbledore at the Welcoming Feast of 1996.[src]

Slughorn back at Hogwarts in the dungeon classroom

Before the winter term of 1996, Albus Dumbledore, with the help of Harry Potter, persuaded Slughorn to come out of retirement and return to the school, while Professor Snape became Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. However, Slughorn insisted that his salary be increased, and that he be given the office that once belonged to Galatea Merrythought, instead of the one in the dungeons, which Snape continued to use as his own. Slughorn was quick to reform the Slug Club with new members, including Melinda Bobbin, Flora and Hestia Carrow, Blaise Zabini, Hermione Granger, Ginny Weasley, Cormac McLaggen and, of course, Harry Potter, who he viewed as the "crown jewel" of his career as a "collector".[4]

Slughorn was described as a much more accommodating and popular teacher than his predecessor, Severus Snape, and in consequence many students performed better under his tutelage. During the first lesson of the year he awarded Felix Felicis, also known as "Liquid Luck", to the brewer of the best Draught of Living Death.[9] The potion went to Harry Potter, whom Slughorn thought had inherited his mother's talent but who, in fact, had copied notes written in Severus Snape's copy of Advanced Potion-Making. Through the year, Slughorn endeavoured to forge ties with Harry, though Harry only really wanted his memory of telling Tom Riddle about Horcruxes, which Slughorn later gave him.[10] At the end of the year, the Battle of the Astronomy Tower took place and Albus Dumbledore was murdered by Professor Snape, who thereafter fled the school. Given these traumatic circumstances, the distraught Slughorn was made Head of Slytherin House.[11]

Slughorn teaching students the Draught of Living Death

Professor Slughorn stayed at Hogwarts under the tenure of Severus Snape as Headmaster and, like the rest of the teachers, attempted to protect the students from Snape and the Carrows.[12] When the Dark Lord invaded the castle with his army, it was initially believed that Slughorn had fled in cowardice; but as it transpired, he had gone to Hogsmeade to round up reinforcements. He returned to the castle at the head of a vast number of residents and shopkeepers from the village, along with friends and family of the students and staff already fighting. Slughorn engaged the Dark Lord head on, with Minerva McGonagall and Kingsley Shacklebolt, proving himself a masterful duellist, able to hold his own against even the most dangerous dark wizard of all time.[13]

After the Battle of Hogwarts, Slughorn continued as both Potions Master and Head of Slytherin House and taught his skills with potions to the next generation of Hogwarts students.[14] However, by 2021, there was a new smoky-eyed Potions professor.[15]

Classroom and office

"Potions lessons took place down in one of the dungeons. It was colder here than up in the main castle, and would have been quite creepy enough without the pickled animals floating in glass jars all around the walls."
— Description of the Potions Classroom in the Dungeons[src]

The former Potions master's office

The Potions Master's classroom was a cold, creepy dungeon, which was beneath the main castle and the basement.[16] It was described as much colder than up in the castle and had pickled animals in glass jars lined up along the walls.[1] Professor Snape's office during his time as the school Potions Master had shadowy walls, which were lined with shelves of large glass jars filled with slimy, revolting things, such as bits of animals and plants, floating in potions of varying colours — much like the Potions Classroom.[6][17] When Snape occupied it, he locked the office with a spell that none but a wizard could break.[18]

The current Potions master's office

When Horace Slughorn returned to teach, he refused to use this office — which he described as a "water closet" — and took an office which had once belonged to Galatea Merrythought. This spacious office included a fireplace with two large sofas surrounding it, a round dinner table large enough to seat ten people, and access to a private balcony, as well as two doors connecting the office to the rest of the Castle.[19]


"You are here to learn the subtle science and exact art of potion-making. As there is little foolish wand-waving here, many of you will hardly believe this is magic. I don't expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through the human veins, bewitching the minds, ensnaring the senses... I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, and even stopper death — if you aren't as big a bunch of dunderheads as I usually have to teach."
— Professor Snape's introduction of Potions[src]

As Potions Master, the incumbent was called upon to teach Potions class to all years, from first to seventh, since Potions was a required subject for all students in their first five years, and a considerable number, including any potential Aurors or Healers,[20] took it for the final two.

The potions the professor taught were taken from textbooks, including Magical Drafts and Potions by Arsenius Jigger, One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi by Phyllida Spore, and Advanced Potion-Making by Libatius Borage. They taught specific potion recipes and methods, and often wrote the ingredients and methods on a blackboard before instructing the class to follow said recipe.

First year

"Snape... swept around the room in his long black cloak, watching them weigh dried nettles and crush snake fangs, criticising almost everyone..."
Harry Potter's first lesson with Severus Snape[src]

Professor Snape teaching his first-years

Students in their first year were taught the Boil-Cure Potion, called the "Cure for Boils" by Professor Horace Slughorn. This potion consisted of dried Nettles, snake fangs, stewed horned slugs, porcupine quills and Flobberworm Mucus. Unless the cauldron was taken off the fire before adding the porcupine quills, the cauldron would melt and create boils instead of curing them. This happened once in 1991, and Severus Snape, the Potions master at the time, was not pleased at all.[1]

Also, the Wiggenweld Potion was studied for the first time; it was made from Asphodel root, shredded Dittany and Wiggentree bark, all of which were collected as a homework assignment.[21]

Second year

"Twenty cauldrons stood steaming between the wooden desks, on which stood brass scales and jars of ingredients. Snape prowled through the fumes, making waspish remarks about the Gryffindors' work while the Slytherins sniggered appreciatively."
— A second-year class learning the Swelling Solution[src]

Snape teaching a pre O.W.L. lesson at Hogwarts

The Potions Master taught the Swelling Solution to his second-year students, whose lessons took place on a Thursday in 1992. The Swelling Solution, as the name implies, caused whatever it touched to swell up in size, and one of the Swelling Solution's ingredients was puffer-fish eyes.

In 1992, Draco Malfoy kept flicking some of these eyes at Harry Potter and Ron Weasley, who used a Dr Filibuster's Fabulous Wet-Start, No-Heat Firework to cause a distraction and steal ingredients (for a Polyjuice Potion) from Severus Snape's storeroom by dropping one in Gregory Goyle's cauldron. This incident led Snape to make the daunting threat to expel the one who threw the firework, since, despite a lack of evidence, he knew at once it was Harry.[22]

The Wiggenweld Potion was, once again, concocted and revised.[23]

Third year

"Everyone gather ‘round, and watch what happens to Longbottom’s toad. If he has managed to produce a Shrinking Solution, it will shrink to a tadpole. If, as I don’t doubt, he has done it wrong, his toad is likely to be poisoned."
— Severus Snape teaching in 1993[src]

Students in their third year were taught by the Potions Master how to create the Antidote to Uncommon Poisons, a potion that cured Doxy venom and other uncommon poisons. Its ingredients included Fire seeds, Powdered Graphorn Horn, Billywig stings and Chizpurfle Carapaces. Students were required to collect the ingredients for homework and mix them together in the next lesson.

Also taught was the Girding Potion, a potion that gave the consumer extra endurance and which was made from Dragonfly thoraxes, Flying Seahorses, fairy wings and Doxy eggs. Wiggenweld was revised once again.[24] Students also learned to brew the Shrinking Solution,[7] and about Undetectable Poisons,[25] for example.

Fourth year

"Antidotes! You should all have prepared your recipes now. I want you to brew them carefully, and then, we will be selecting someone on whom to test one...."
— Professor Snape teaching fourth-years about antidotes[src]

The Potions Master taught his fourth-year students antidotes[26][27] and the Wit-Sharpening Potion for example, the latter of which allowed the drinker to think more clearly. It was comprised of armadillo bile, cut ginger roots and ground scarab beetles. In 1994, Severus Snape taught his students to make this potion shortly after the second task of the Triwizard Tournament.

While working, Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger discussed an article by Rita Skeeter that had recently been published in Witch Weekly. Snape found the trio reading the magazine, and, much to their humiliation, read it aloud to the entire class (the article falsely accused Hermione of toying with the hearts of both Viktor Krum and Harry).[28]

Fifth year

"Today we will be mixing a potion that often comes up at Ordinary Wizarding Level; the Draught of Peace, a potion to calm anxiety and soothe agitation."
— Professor Snape teaching his OWL class in 1995[src]

Snape teaching an O.W.L. level lesson

The Strengthening Solution, a potion that presumably increased the drinker's strength, was taught by the Potions Master to his fifth-year students. It required two lessons to complete and included Salamander blood and powdered Griffin claw.

Also, to prepare for the Ordinary Wizarding Level, the Draught of Peace was brewed during the first lesson of the year, as its concoction was a frequent task in the examination.[29]

Sixth year

"Now then, now then, now then. Scales out, everyone, and potion kits, and don't forget your copies of Advanced Potion-Making..."
— Professor Slughorn teaching his sixth-years[src]

A N.E.W.T.- level potions class with Professor Slughorn

Sixth-years who had passed their O.W.L. with an 'Exceeds Expectations' or better ('Outstanding' only for Professor Snape) could advance to N.E.W.T.-level Potions. A Potions N.EW.T. was a pre-requisite for any Auror candidate. In 1996, Harry Potter was saddened to discover that, having received an E grade on his O.W.L., he was ineligible for the N.E.W.T. class. However, Professor Slughorn was willing to teach students with an E grade, so Harry was able to continue on his chosen path.[9]

During sixth year students prepared for the N.E.W.T. exam which took place the next year. It was noted that there was an increased difficulty in the work the students had to complete. The students "studied as if they had exams every day, the lessons themselves had become more demanding than ever before".[30]

The potions observed include the Draught of Living Death,[9] Elixir to Induce Euphoria[10] and poison antidotes.[31] They also revised the Boil-Cure Potion and Wit-Sharpening Potion.[32]

Seventh year

Professor Slughorn: "These are the kind of thing you ought to be able to make after completing your N.E.W.T.s. You ought to have heard of ‘em, even if you haven’t made ‘em yet. Anyone tell me what this one is?"
Hermione Granger: "It’s Veritaserum, a colourless, odourless potion that forces the drinker to tell the truth."
Professor Slughorn: "Very good, very good!"
— Professor Slughorn in a sixth-year class, regarding advanced potions[src]

As the N.E.W.T.s took place at the end of the year, the Potions Master likely made his seventh-years revise the most complex potions in the school syllabus. It was mentioned by Professor Slughorn that, by the end of the year, seventh-year students were expected to be capable of brewing Polyjuice Potion, Amortentia and Felix Felicis, all of which were stated at different times to be challenges considerably beyond the skill of the average witch or wizard.[9]

Hermione, as chronicled, concocted a viable Polyjuice Potion as a second-year, one of her many remarkable feats.[33]

See also


Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 8 (The Potions Master)
  2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 9 (The Writing on the Wall)
  3. 3.0 3.1 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 8 (Flight of the Fat Lady)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 4 (Horace Slughorn)
  5. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 7 (The Slug Club)
  6. 6.0 6.1 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 5 (The Whomping Willow)
  7. 7.0 7.1 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 7 (The Boggart in the Wardrobe)
  8. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 8 (Snape Victorious)
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 9 (The Half-Blood Prince)
  10. 10.0 10.1 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 22 (After the Burial)
  11. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 29 (The Phoenix Lament)
  12. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 30 (The Sacking of Severus Snape)
  13. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 36 (The Flaw in the Plan)
  14. Harry Potter: Magic Awakened
  15. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Act Four, Scene Fourteen
  16. Pottermore
  17. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 14 (Snape's Grudge)
  18. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 25 (The Egg and the Eye)
  19. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (film)
  20. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 29 (Careers Advice)
  21. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (video game)
  22. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 11 (The Duelling Club)
  23. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (video game)
  24. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (video game)
  25. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 12 (The Patronus)
  26. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 15 (Beauxbatons and Durmstrang)
  27. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 18 (The Weighing of the Wands)
  28. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 27 (Padfoot Returns)
  29. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 12 (Professor Umbridge)
  30. Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince, Chapter 11 (Hermione's Helping Hand)
  31. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 18 (Birthday Surprises)
  32. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (video game)
  33. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 12 (The Polyjuice Potion)