Exeter University first in the UK to launch new Masters course in study of Magic

A rising popularity means Exeter University will now offer a magic course. Pictured: Ayla Skinner who has a large following on TikTok thanks to the popularity of witchcraft. Credit: ITV News

A university has become one of the first in the UK to introduce a course in magic.

Students at the University of Exeter in Devon will be able to learn about the history of witchcraft and its impact on society as part of a new postgraduate degree.

Academics with expertise in history, literature, philosophy, archaeology, sociology, psychology, drama, and religion will show the role of magic around the world.

The MA in Magic and Occult Science is one of the only postgraduate courses of its kind in the UK to combine the study of the history of magic with such a wide range of other subjects.

Professor Emily Selove, who leads the course, said there has been a "surge in interest" in magic and the occult in recent years.

She said: “This MA will allow people to reexamine 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.

"Magic and the occult have been and remain an enormous part of Western culture, and it is foolish to deny this or to refuse to take it seriously. Rigorous study of these subjects allows us to reexamine the relationship of humans to the natural world and of different human cultures to one another."

Students will have the option to take a variety of modules from different departments as part of the course.

Modules currently on offer include dragons in Western Literature and Art, the Depiction of Women in the Middle Ages and the Philosophy of Psychedelics.

They will also be able to choose between writing a primarily text-based dissertation or completing a dissertation using primarily performative techniques.

The degree will be organised by the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies.

Professor Selove added: “By housing this degree in the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, we acknowledge the profound debt of Western culture and science to the Arabo-Islamic world, a history that has been erased in creating our false picture of the West as uniquely rational.

“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.” 

The first cohort of students will begin in 2024.