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Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is a setting in J. K. Rowling's best-selling Harry Potter series. It is a school of magic for witches and wizards between the ages of eleven and eighteen living in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Six of the seven books in the series are largely set at the school, with each book lasting the equivalent of one school year. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, most of the book is set outside Hogwarts as main characters Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger do not attend their final year of school (though Rowling has stated that Hermione eventually does return to school to complete her N.E.W.T. examinations). The climactic battle of the book, and the series, however, is set at Hogwarts.

Rowling has suggested that she may have inadvertently taken the name from the hogwort plant (Croton capitatus), which she had seen at Kew Gardens some time before writing the Harry Potter series. Hogwarts school was voted as the 36th best Scottish educational establishment in an online ranking, outranking Edinburgh's Loretto School.

School location and information

J. K. Rowling says she visualises Hogwarts, in its entirety, to be:

A huge, rambling, quite scary-looking castle, with a jumble of towers and battlements. Like the Weasley's house, it isn't a building that Muggles could build, because it is supported by magic.

In the novels, Hogwarts is located somewhere in Scotland. The school has numerous charms and spells on and around it that make it impossible for any Muggle (i.e. non-magical person) to locate it — they can't see the school, only ruins and several warnings of danger. The castle has extensive grounds with sloping lawns, flowerbeds and vegetable patches, a loch, (called the Black Lake in the fourth film), a large dense forest (called the Forbidden Forest), a number of greenhouses and other outbuildings, and a full-size Quidditch pitch. There is also an owlery, which houses all of the owls owned by the school and those owned by students. It should be noted that some rooms in the school tend to "move around," which Rowling says can be attributed either to the magic of the school or to her own imperfect memory. Witches and wizards cannot Apparate or Disapparate in Hogwarts grounds, except when the Headmaster lifts the enchantment, though he or she is able to lift the restriction in certain areas only, so as to make the school less vulnerable when it serves the headmaster to allow Apparition. Computers, televisions and other electronic devices, as well as electricity, are not to be found at Hogwarts. In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Hermione indicates that due to the high levels of magic, "substitutes for magic (that) Muggles use" such as computers, radar and electricity "go haywire" around Hogwarts. Radios however, make an exception. Rowling explains this by saying that the radios are not powered by electricity and are powered by magic.

While Hogwarts is a total institution, its status is not discussed in great detail in the novels, but it is known to be a coeducational, secondary boarding school, taking children from ages eleven to eighteen. Education at Hogwarts is not compulsory, with some students being home schooled as stated in the seventh book. Rowling initially said there are about one thousand students at Hogwarts; She later suggested around six hundred, while acknowledging that this number was still inconsistent with the small number of people in Harry's year. She further explained that this had resulted from her creating only 40 characters for Harry's year.

The Headmaster or Headmistress, assisted by a Deputy Headmaster or Headmistress, undertakes management of the school. The Head is answerable to the twelve-member Board of Governors.

It is unclear how Hogwarts is funded; it is insinuated that the families pay for the students at least partially (when said families are able). In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Tom Riddle says that he cannot afford to go to Hogwarts, to which Albus Dumbledore replies, "There is a fund at Hogwarts for those who require assistance to buy books and robes," as students are required to purchase their own textbooks, uniform, and other supplies. The Ministry of Magic's efforts to take control of the school in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix imply that it is a publicly funded school, though no mention of where the Ministry receives its funds is made.

Rowling has said that Hogwarts is "a multifaith school".


A magical quill at Hogwarts detects the birth of wizard children and writes their names into a large parchment book. Every year, a teacher checks this book and sends a letter to the children who will have turned eleven years old by 31 August. Acceptance or declination of a place at Hogwarts must be posted by 31 July. The letter also contains a list of supplies like spell books, uniform, and other things that the student will need. The prospective student is expected to buy all the necessary materials, normally from shops in Diagon Alley, a concealed street near Charing Cross Road in London found behind a pub by the name of The Leaky Cauldron. Students who cannot afford their supplies can receive financial aid from the school, as was the case with the young orphan Tom Riddle.

Letters to Muggle-born witches and wizards, who may not be aware of their powers and are unfamiliar with the concealed wizarding world, are delivered in person by a member of Hogwarts staff, who then explains to the parents/guardians about magical society, and reassures them regarding this news. They also assist the family in regards to buying supplies and gaining access to Diagon Alley.

Each student is allowed to bring a cat, rat, toad, or owl. First year students require equipment for their different subjects. Equipment listed in the acceptance letter includes a wand, a standard size 2 pewter cauldron, a set of brass scales, a set of glass or crystal phials, a kit of basic potion ingredients (for Potions), and a telescope (for Astronomy). The Hogwarts uniform consists of plain work robes in black, as well as a plain black hat, a pair of protective gloves, and a black winter cloak with silver fastenings. Most students buy their cloaks from Madam Malkins, in Diagon Alley. Each uniform must contain the wearer's nametag. First years are not allowed a broomstick of their own, though an exception to this rule is made for Harry in his first year after it is discovered that he has an excellent ability as a Seeker in Quidditch.


Students can travel to Hogwarts and the neighbouring all-magical village of Hogsmeade in many ways. One such method is the Hogwarts Express that students take at the start of each school year in the books. Harry and Ron arrived by flying the Weasley family's car in their second year after missing the train. Other methods of travel include broomsticks, Thestrals, and a one-time connection to the Floo Network. Students travelling by Hogwarts Express must first travel to King's Cross station in London to board the Hogwarts Express from Platform 9¾. After a journey beginning at 11:00 am and ending after nightfall, the train arrives at Hogsmeade Station, near Hogwarts.

From there, first year students are accompanied by the Keeper of the Keys and Grounds – or another suitable teacher if he is absent – to small boats, which magically sail themselves across the lake to arrive at a small landing stage near the castle of Hogwarts; next, they await their turn to get sorted into their houses. The older students ride up to the castle in carriages pulled by creatures called Thestrals, winged horse-like creatures that are invisible to all Muggles and to witches and wizards who have not personally witnessed someone's death. When the first year students initially arrive at the castle, they do not go directly to the Great Hall for the start-of-term feast. Instead, they must first undergo the Sorting Ceremony, which determines the student's house, and then bring up the rear. As Minerva McGonagall said in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone,

The Sorting is a very important ceremony because, while you are here, your House will be something like your family within Hogwarts. You will have classes with the rest of your House, sleep in your House dormitory, and spend free time in your House common room.
One by one, each student is seated upon the stool in front of the rest of the student body, and a magical hat, The Sorting Hat, examines the student's mind and assigns the student to one of the four Houses based on abilities, personality, and preferences. After the Sorting ceremony, the students and teachers enjoy a feast, prepared by the Hogwarts house-elves. If Dumbledore is feeling particularly cheerful, he will lead the students in singing the school song.


Hogwarts is divided into four houses, each bearing the last name of its founder: Godric Gryffindor, Salazar Slytherin, Rowena Ravenclaw and Helga Hufflepuff. The houses compete throughout the school year, by earning and losing points for various events, for the House Cup. Each house also has its own Quidditch team that competes for the Quidditch Cup. These two competitions breed rivalries between the houses. Houses at Hogwarts are the living and learning communities for their students. Each house is under the authority of one of the Hogwarts staff members. The Heads of the houses, as they are called, are in charge of giving their students important information, dealing with matters of severe punishment, and responding to emergencies in their houses, among other things. Each year, year level groups of every separate house share the same dormitory and classes. The dormitory and common room of a House are, barring rare exceptions, inaccessible to students belonging to other Houses.

In the early day of Hogwarts, the four founders handpicked students for their Houses. When the founders worried how students would be selected after their deaths, Godric Gryffindor took his hat off and they each added knowledge in it, allowing the Sorting Hat to choose the students by judging each student's qualities and placing them in the most appropriate house. The student's own choices may affect the decision: the clearest example is the Hat telling Harry that he would do well in Slytherin in the first book, but ultimately selecting Gryffindor after Harry asks it not to put him in Slytherin.


Gryffindor values courage, daring, nerve and chivalry above all else. Its mascot is the lion, and its colours are red and gold. The Head of this house is the Transfiguration teacher, Minerva McGonagall, and the house ghost is Nearly Headless Nick. According to Rowling, Gryffindor corresponds roughly to the element of fire. The founder of the house is Godric Gryffindor.

Though Gryffindor is commonly regarded as the 'good' house, not all Gryffindors are 'good'. Cormac McLaggen is the negative qualities of Gryffindor personified. He is bad-tempered, arrogant, and does not like it when he does not get his own way. He does not like the fact that Ron beat him at keeper tryouts, and does not admit defeat easily. Romilda Vane is another example. She is underhanded, and displays a deceptive and devious nature by trying unsuccessfully to ply Harry with love potion. On the Hogwarts Express she is somewhat condescending towards Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood. However, both McLaggen and Vane certainly are bold, and show confidence, two very Gryffindor qualities, and were therefore sorted into the house.

The Gryffindor common room is located in one of the castle's highest towers, the entrance to which is located on the seventh floor in the east wing of the castle and is guarded by a painting of The Fat Lady, who is garbed in a pink dress. She permits entry only after being given the correct password, except for one moment in the sixth book when she allows Harry to enter after he tells her that Dumbledore has died.


Hufflepuff, founded by Helga Hufflepuff, values hard work, loyalty, tolerance, and fair play above all else. The house mascot is the badger, and canary yellow and black are its colours. The Head of this house is the Herbology teacher Pomona Sprout, and the house ghost is The Fat Friar. According to Rowling, Hufflepuff corresponds roughly to the element of earth. The Hufflepuff dormitories and common room are located somewhere in the basement, their entrance found through a still-life painting that is somewhere near the kitchens. Students must give a password to the painting to enter. The Hufflepuff common room is filled with yellow hangings and fat armchairs and it has little underground tunnels leading to the dormitories, all of which have perfectly round doors, like barrel tops (very much like a badger sett).


Ravenclaw values intelligence, creativity, wit, and wisdom. "Wit beyond measure is man's greatest treasure" is an oft-repeated Ravenclaw proverb. The house mascot is an eagle, the house colours are blue and bronze (changed to blue and silver in the movies). The head of this house is the Charms professor, Filius Flitwick, and the house ghost is The Grey Lady. According to Rowling, Ravenclaw corresponds roughly to the element of air. The founder of this house is Rowena Ravenclaw.

The dormitories are located in Ravenclaw Tower on the west side of the school. The common room, which went undescribed in the series until the climax of Deathly Hallows, is round and filled with blue hangings and fat armchairs, has a domed ceiling painted with stars, and also features a statue of Rowena Ravenclaw wearing her diadem. Harry also notes that, by day, the Ravenclaws 'would have a spectacular view of the surrounding mountains'. A logical riddle must be solved in order to gain entry, whereas the Gryffindor, Hufflepuff and Slytherin common rooms only require a password.


Like Salazar Slytherin, its founder, Slytherin house values ambition, cunning, resourcefulness. The book also suggests that the hunger for power is a characteristic of Slytherins. The animal representing Slytherin is the serpent, and the house colours are green and silver. The Head of this house is Severus Snape in the first five books and most of the sixth book. At the end of the sixth book and in the seventh book, the old Potions master and previous Head of House who has come out of retirement, Horace Slughorn, reassumes authority of the house. The ghost of Slytherin house is The Bloody Baron. According to Rowling, Slytherin corresponds roughly to the element of water. The Slytherin dormitories and common room are reached through a bare stone wall in the dungeons. The Slytherin common room is a long, low, dungeon-style room, located under the Hogwarts Lake, furnished with green lamps and carved armchairs.

Harry developed a negative view of Slytherin and asked the Sorting Hat not to place him in that house because of its sinister reputation. Hagrid told him, "There isn't a witch or wizard who went bad who wasn't in Slytherin." This seems to be an exaggeration on Hagrid's part, as at the time, he believed that Sirius Black, a Gryffindor, was a Death Eater. Still, Slytherin House seems to have attracted more evil wizards than any other house, including Voldemort himself and almost all of his supporters. However, Slytherin itself is not evil; it is just that having ambition as a core quality results in a disproportionate amount of self-important, competitive students. There are some good Slytherins such as Horace Slughorn, Andromeda Tonks, and Severus Snape (although his loyalties are unclear until the Deathly Hallows).

The Sorting Hat claims that blood purity is a factor in selecting Slytherins, although this is not mentioned until the fifth book. There is no reason to believe, however, that Muggle-born students are not sorted there, merely that pure-blooded students are more desirable to that house, as there are several examples of half-bloods in the house. In Deathly Hallows, a group of Snatchers claim that "not many Mudbloods" are sorted into Slytherin, which suggests that while Muggle-born Slytherins may be uncommon, they are not unknown.

When believing Harry to be dead and thinking that he has final victory in his grasp, Voldemort proclaims his intention to abolish the other three houses and force all Hogwarts students into Slytherin. This design is foiled by his defeat and death, after which Slytherin becomes more diluted in its blood purity, no longer remaining the pureblood bastion it once was. Its dark reputation, however, does linger.

Terms and holidays

Hogwarts' school year is structured in a similar way to other 'non-magical' schools and colleges in the UK, with a three-term year punctuated by holidays at Christmas and Easter and bounded by the long summer holiday of nine weeks. Term begins every year on 1 September, and finishes at the end of June the following year. Students have the option of staying at Hogwarts for the winter and spring holidays. Those who choose to stay at the castle do not have lessons and attend a feast on Christmas Day. Students also do not have classes the week of Easter, but this is much less enjoyable due to the large amount of work that the teachers assign students at this time in preparation for final exams.

Other than the aforementioned breaks, and weekends, students do not receive any other holidays. There are normally four feasts per year, the start-of-term feast at the beginning of the school year and end-of-term feast at the end of the school year, as well as feasts at Halloween and Christmas. Feasts are also called to mark any special occasions, as in Goblet of Fire, when there was a feast to celebrate the beginning of the Triwizard Tournament.

Subjects and teachers

Throughout the series, numerous lessons are described, instructing the students in various branches of magic. There are twelve named teachers (each referred to as Professor), each specialising in a single subject. Transfiguration, Defence Against the Dark Arts, Charms, Potions, Astronomy, History of Magic, and Herbology are compulsory subjects. At the end of their second year, students are required to add at least two optional subjects to their syllabus for the start of the third year. Optional subjects include Arithmancy, Ancient Runes, Divination, Care of Magical Creatures, and Muggle Studies.


Transfiguration is essentially the art of changing the properties of an object. Transfiguration is a theory-based subject, including topics such as "Switching Spells" (altering only a part of some object, such as giving a human rabbit's ears); Vanishing Spells (causing an object to completely disappear); and Conjuring Spells (creating objects out of thin air). It is possible to change inanimate objects into animate ones and vice versa — McGonagall transfigures her desk into a pig in Philosopher's Stone. Throughout Harry's time at Hogwarts, Transfiguration is taught by McGonagall. Dumbledore is known to have taught the subject before he became headmaster, including during Tom Riddle's time at Hogwarts.

Defence Against the Dark Arts

Commonly shortened to D.A.D.A., this class teaches defensive techniques to block spells, charms, curses, hexes and jinxes cast by other wizards, counteract the Dark Arts, and to protect from Dark creatures.

The subject has an extraordinarily high turnover of staff members — throughout the series no Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher has remained at Hogwarts for more than one school year. It is suggested by Hagrid in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets that "They're startin' ter [sic] think the job's jinxed. No one's lasted long for a while now." In Half-Blood Prince, Dumbledore suggests that Voldemort cursed the position because his application for it was rejected. The existence of the jinx was eventually confirmed by Rowling. The position had also been coveted by Snape, but he was denied the position as well. Rowling explained that Dumbledore believed that teaching D.A.D.A would bring out Snape's worst side. Snape was finally appointed D.A.D.A. professor in Half-Blood Prince. Rowling announced in an interview that once Voldemort had died, the jinx he placed on the office was lifted and a permanent professor had been teaching the subject between the end of Deathly Hallows and the epilogue, set nineteen years afterwards. Furthermore, she imagines that Harry Potter occasionally comes to the class to give lectures on the subject.

List of known Defence Against the Dark Arts professors:


If Transfiguration involves changing the properties of an object, Rowling has described Charms as a type of magic spell concerned with giving an object new and unexpected properties. Charms classes are described as notoriously noisy and chaotic, as the lessons are largely practical. Many of the exposition sequences in the books are set in Charms classes, which are on the second floor of Hogwarts. Charms is taught throughout Harry's time at Hogwarts by Filius Flitwick.


Potions is described as the art of creating mixtures with magical effects. It requires the correct mixing and stirring of ingredients at the right times and temperatures. As to the question of whether a Muggle could brew a potion, given the correct magical ingredients, J.K. Rowling has said, "Potions seems, on the face of it, to be the most Muggle-friendly subject. But there does come a point in which you need do more than stir." Snape serves as Potions master from Philosopher's Stone to the end of Order of the Phoenix. Snape's lessons are depicted as unhappy, oppressing times set in a gloomy dungeon in the basement of the castle. In Half-Blood Prince, Slughorn replaces Snape as Potions instructor.


Astronomy is the only field of study at Hogwarts which has a direct equivalent in the Muggle world. Astronomy classes take place in the Astronomy Tower, the tallest tower in Hogwarts. Lessons involve observations of the night skies with telescopes. No Astronomy lesson, or even a fragment of one, is ever depicted in the movies. Known student homework activities include learning the names of stars, constellations and planets, as well as their location and movements, and describing the environments of planets and moons. Throughout the Harry Potter series, Professor Aurora Sinistra teaches Astronomy.

History of Magic

The study of magical history. Lessons are depicted as some of the most boring at Hogwarts. The History of Magic teacher, Cuthbert Binns, is the only ghost teacher, extremely set in his ways. Binns' lessons consist of him reciting ("droning") and dictating notes to his students.


The study of magical plants and how to take care of, utilize and/or combat them. There are at least three greenhouses described in the books, holding a variety of magical plants of varying degrees of lethality. Throughout the series, Herbology is taught by Pomona Sprout. Herbology is also the only subject in which Neville excels; it is explained in the epilogue to Deathly Hallows that he later becomes the Herbology teacher.


Arithmancy is a branch of magic concerned with the magical properties of numbers. As this class is taken neither by Harry, nor by Ron, almost nothing is known about it. It is, however, a favourite subject of Hermione. Arithmancy is reportedly very difficult, as it requires memorizing or working with large number charts. Throughout the series, Arithmancy is taught by Septima Vector.

Ancient Runes

A mostly theoretical subject that studies the ancient runic scripts. It is studied by Hermione but not by Harry or Ron, so little else is known about this subject. The name of the Ancient Runes professor is never given in the books or films, although Rowling has named her as Bathsheba Babbling.


Divination is the art of predicting the future. Various methods are described, including tea leaves, fire omens, crystal balls, palmistry, cartomancy (including the reading of playing cards and the Tarot), astrology, and dream interpretations. Divination is described as "one of the most imprecise branches of magic". Supporters of the subject claim that it is an inexact science that requires innate gifts. Those opposed claim that the subject is irrelevant and fraudulent. Sybill Trelawney is introduced as Divination teacher in Prisoner of Azkaban and remains in the post for Goblet of Fire and the beginning of Order of the Phoenix. When she is sacked by Umbridge she is replaced by Firenze, a centaur who is banished from the Forbidden Forest after he agrees to help Dumbledore. As Dumbledore explains that he could not remove either teacher at the end of Order of the Phoenix, both continue teaching in Half-Blood Prince.

Care of Magical Creatures

This subject instructs students about and how to care for magical beasts. Classes are held outside the castle. At the start of Prisoner of Azkaban, it is announced that an aging Professor Kettleburn has retired to "enjoy more time with his remaining limbs", and Hagrid is appointed to replace him. During Hagrid's two absences later in the series, in Goblet of Fire and the beginning of Order of the Phoenix, lessons are covered by Wilhelmina Grubbly-Plank. Although very experienced and knowledgeable of magical creatures, Hagrid's lessons are usually depicted as chaotic if not outright dangerous, as Hagrid is consistently unable to judge the safety of the animals around which his lessons are based.

Muggle Studies

This course involves the study of Muggles "from a wizarding point of view". There is apparently a need for witches and wizards to learn about Muggle ways and means, if only to ensure they are able to avoid them or blend in. As the class is only mentioned as being taken by Hermione, and for just one year, little is known about its curriculum. Through the first six books, the class is taught by Professor Charity Burbage. Rowling has said that Burbage replaced Quirrell, who taught the subject before moving to teach Defence Against the Dark Arts in Harry's first year. In the opening chapter of the final book, Voldemort murders Professor Burbage because she portrays Muggles in a positive light and is opposed to limiting wizardry to only people of pure-blood origins. For the remainder of the academic year covered by Deathly Hallows, the Death Eater Alecto Carrow teaches Muggle Studies. However, her "lessons" (which are made compulsory) mainly describe Muggles and Muggle-borns as subhuman and worthy of persecution.


The use of enchanted broomsticks is taught in Hogwarts' only physical-education class. Only one flying lesson is depicted in the series (in Philosopher's Stone). That class is taught by Rolanda Hooch. Madam Hooch also acts as referee for Quidditch matches.


Apparition, the art of magically disappearing from one place and reappearing in another, requires a license and may only be legally performed by people over seventeen years of age. The described reason for the restriction is that Apparition is dangerous if done improperly: body parts can be left behind in an unfortunate side-effect known as "splinching". Although, as Hermione points out innumerable times throughout the series, magical enchantments on Hogwarts castle and grounds prohibit Apparition and Disapparition inside the castle, it is explained in Half-Blood Prince that these protections are temporarily relaxed within the Great Hall for short periods to permit students to practice Apparition. Wilkie Twycross, a "Ministry of Magic Apparition Instructor" offers lessons in Apparition in Half-Blood Prince.

Grading and assessment

During their first four years, students need only to pass each of their subjects before advancing to the next level the following year. Regular exams and lessons usually seem to be graded on a numerical scale from 0 to 100, even though Hermione is known to have received 112% in Charms in Philosopher's Stone, and 320% in Prisoner of Azkaban in Muggle Studies. If students fail in their year, they need to repeat it in the following school year. To qualify as a registered practitioner of magic, students must study for the compulsory Ordinary Wizarding Level (O.W.L.) examinations taken in the fifth year. If passed, a student may proceed to the Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Tests (N.E.W.T.) level, a more advanced exam covering fewer subjects in more depth, taken at the end of the seventh year. In general, a U.K. student takes only three or four A-Level subjects and exams, just as a Hogwarts students takes only three or four subjects in preparation for the N.E.W.T exams, taken at the end of the seventh year.

Subjects are graded on the following scale:

Passing Grades

  • O = Outstanding
  • E = Exceeds Expectations
  • A = Acceptable

Failing Grades

  • P = Poor
  • D = Dreadful
  • T = Troll ''

The O.W.L.s roughly corresponds to the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE), and the N.E.W.T.s to the A-level examinations used in the English, Welsh and Northern Ireland secondary school system. In order to proceed to a N.E.W.T., a student usually needs to have achieved at least an E in the O.W.L. of the same subject, although some professors (e.g. Professor Snape) insist upon a grade of O. Students who fail in their exams or who do not achieve high enough grades continue to take O.W.L. classes in their sixth and seventh years.

At the end of their fifth year, students speak briefly with their head of house to decide which classes to continue in depending on their O.W.L. scores and their goals after school. The classes they decide to continue are considerably more advanced. Because they dropped one or more classes, students in their sixth and seventh year may get several class sessions off per week. The heavy workload that each of these classes require means that students usually spend these times studying and doing homework. At the end of their seventh and final year, students take the N.E.W.T. exams, which test what the student has learned over the past two years. Many professions require high grades in these tests, meaning that students must work very hard to ensure that they pass.

Student life

The day begins at Hogwarts with breakfast in the Great Hall. Students sit at their own House table and can eat as well as socialize, or finish homework. The headmaster eats with the professors at the High Table placed at the far end of the hall. During breakfast, owls bring in the students' post, generally consisting of The Daily Prophet, letters from parents or friends, or packages from home. A bell signals the start of the first class of the morning at 9 a.m.

There are two long morning classes with a short break in between them for students to get to their next class. After lunch classes resume at 1 p.m., and there is a break around afternoon teatime before another class period. The classes are about forty-five minutes in length, and the classes end around five o' clock. First year students sometimes get Friday afternoons off. In the evening, students eat their dinner in the Great Hall, after which they are expected to be in their common rooms.

The four House dormitories have secret entrances known only to members of that house and require a password (with the exception of the entrance to the Ravenclaw dormitory, where one is required to correctly answer a riddle) in order to gain entrance. Inside is the common room, which contains armchairs and sofas for the pupils, as well as tables for studying. There are fireplaces to keep the rooms warm, and students either relax here in the evenings or else complete their homework. There are notice boards in each common room too, as well as at other strategic points throughout the school. The students sleep in their House dormitories, which branch off from the common rooms. Each year gets at least two rooms; one for boys and one for girls (an enchantment prevents boys from entering the girls' area, although there is no spell to prevent the reverse from occurring). Each student sleeps in a large four poster bed with bed covers and heavy curtains in the House colours, and thick white pillows. There is a bedside table for each bed, and each dormitory has a jug of water and glasses on a tray.

On designated weekends, Hogwarts students in their third year or higher, with a signed permission slip, are permitted to walk to the nearby wizarding village of Hogsmeade, where they can relax and enjoy the pubs, restaurants and shops. There appears to be a good relationship between the school and the village, and the students get on well with the locals. Favourite places in Hogsmeade include Honeydukes Sweetshop, Zonko's Joke Shop, clothing stores such as Gladrags Wizardwear, the Shrieking Shack, rumoured to be the most haunted building in Britain, and the pubs The Three Broomsticks and The Hog's Head and Madam Puddifoot's.


The house-elves at Hogwarts are skilled chefs, and cook a wide variety of dishes for every meal. The various dishes are prepared in the kitchens directly below the Great Hall and, at meal times, magically transported up so that they appear served for the students. Many of the dishes still eaten at Hogwarts were derived from the spells of House Founder Helga Hufflepuff. Hogwarts food is typically British, although the school sometimes makes exceptions (during the Triwizard Tournament, foreign dishes, such as bouillabaisse, were served in honor of the visiting schools). The usual drinks (apart from water) are milk, tea, coffee, orange juice, and pumpkin juice. Butterbeer was only once served at the school during the Yule Ball.


Apart from losing points from a house, serious misdeeds at Hogwarts are punishable by detention.

According to the school caretaker, Argus Filch, detention meant subjection to various forms of torture until relatively recently, but in present times usually involves assisting staff or faculty with tedious tasks. Examples of detention include the one dealt on Harry by Umbridge in Order of the Phoenix. In this case, Harry was forced to write, "I must not tell lies" repeatedly using a magical quill which then carves what is written into the back of the writer's hand. In another case, when Harry was caught on using the Sectumsempra curse on Malfoy by Snape, he was forced to go through over a thousand boxes of files describing wrongdoers at Hogwarts and their punishments. Harry was supposed to order them in alphabetical order, and rewrite the cards whose words are hard to see or otherwise damaged.

For even more serious offences, students may be expelled from Hogwarts. Harry comes under threat of expulsion by the Ministry at the beginning of his fifth year at Hogwarts after he is detected using magic in the presence of Muggles, a serious offence among the wizarding community. Dumbledore argued in Harry's defence, stating that besides the fact that it was done in self-defence, the Ministry has no authority to expel students – such powers are invested in the Headmaster and the Board of Governors. Snape has attempted to have Harry expelled, and he attempted to have Harry's father, James, expelled when they were at Hogwarts together. The only student known to have actually been expelled is Hagrid, for possessing an acromantula believed to be the Monster of Slytherin, and for opening the Chamber of Secrets – a crime for which Tom Riddle had actually framed him.

Professors seem to be able to punish students with relative impunity and can hand out detention, even for unsatisfactory grades. Enforcement of rules outside of class mainly falls to the caretaker, with the assistance of the prefects. A student's Head of House usually has the final say in disciplinary matters.

In the summer before their fifth year, two fifth year students from each House are picked to be prefects, which grants them extra privileges and responsibilities (e.g. using the prefect's bathroom, controlling younger students) and disciplinary responsibilities; they remain Prefects, unless appointed Head Boy or Girl or stripped of their position, for the rest of their school career. There are four to six prefects per house, all from the fifth, sixth and seventh year students: if one of them has been appointed Head Boy or Head Girl, they are not replaced as Prefects. The leaders of the student body, the Head Boy and Head Girl, are drawn from the seventh year students. A student may be chosen as Head without first being a Prefect as according to Hagrid, James Potter was Head Boy although he was not a Prefect. Prefects have the authority to deduct points from students of their own house for infractions, though they cannot take points from fellow prefects. They may also give detentions. Quidditch house captains are given the some of the same privileges as prefects.

The only known cause for being suspended from Hogwarts is mentioned in passing by Snape in Prisoner of Azkaban. He tells Harry, Ron, and Hermione that they are in enough trouble and facing suspension for being out of bounds while they are in the Shrieking Shack.

It is implied towards the end of Philosopher's Stone, that pupils might be "thrown out" for exceptionally poor examination results at the end of their first year however this may be an exaggeration of Hermione. The particularly thuggish Gregory Goyle was fortunate to avoid this fate during Harry Potter's first year. The punishment would seem to imply that the pupil has insufficient intelligence or magical ability to become a wizard or witch. What subsequently happens to those thrown out is not explained.

Secrets of Hogwarts

Hogwarts is home to many secret locations and passages.

The hiding place of the Philosopher's Stone

Accessed by entering a trapdoor in the forbidden corridor on the third floor, and protected by a gauntlet of seven magical challenges set up by the teachers.

  • A three-headed dog named Fluffy placed specially to guard the trapdoor by Hagrid.
  • A massive Devil's Snare, grown by Sprout.
  • A room containing dozens of keys, charmed by Flitwick to sprout wings and fly near the ceiling. One of these keys will unlock the door to the next section. However, in the film adaptation, the keys attack the seeker of the Stone.
  • A large chessboard with an army of large chessmen, transfigured by McGonagall. To proceed to the door on the opposite side, the person in question must beat the chessmen at a game of wizards’ chess where the player must risk his life if he loses. Ron and Professor Quirrell are the only wizards to win the game of wizards’ chess.
  • A room with a large troll inside. This is presumably Quirrell's challenge. In the book, Quirrell had knocked out his own troll to get to the last room and thus the Trio did not have to fight it; in the movie, it does not appear, but it appears in the PlayStation One version of the game.
  • A series of potions, brewed by Snape. There are two doors, blocked by fire. One potion will allow the person to exit the way he/she arrived, another will allow him/her to proceed to the next chamber, two are nettle wine, the other three are poison. This challenge does not appear in the movie, but does in the video game adaptation.
  • The Mirror of Erised can be found in the final chamber, further enchanted by Dumbledore to bestow the The Philosopher's Stone upon a seeker only hoping to acquire the stone but not use it for selfish means.

Chamber of Secrets

The Chamber of Secrets, which is deep under the dungeons, was home to an ancient Basilisk, intended to be used to purge the school of Muggle-born students. Salazar Slytherin, one of the founders of Hogwarts, built the Chamber before he left the school.

The Chamber is well hidden and the entrance is in Moaning Myrtle's bathroom on the second floor, which leads down into a dark, slimy stone tunnel. There are many skeletons of small animals littering the floor and even a gigantic skin shed by the Basilisk. The tunnel leads to a solid wall, carved with two entwined serpents with emeralds for eyes. When Parseltongue is spoken they open into a very long, dim corridor, lined with monumental statues of snakes, including two towering stone pillars with more carved serpents that brace the ceiling. A colossal statue of Salazar Slytherin, looking ancient and monkey-like, is at the centre. The Basilisk rested inside the statue and emerged from its mouth when the Heir of Slytherin, Tom Riddle, summoned it. In his second year at Hogwarts, Harry uses Parseltongue to open the chamber and destroys the diary containing the embodied memory of a 16-year old Tom Riddle from his own days at Hogwarts. It is later revealed that the diary was a Horcrux. In Deathly Hallows, Ron and Hermione enter the Chamber. Ron opens the door (despite not speaking Parseltongue) by imitating sounds he heard Harry use to open Slytherin's locket. They find a basilisk fang to use to destroy the Horcrux made from Helga Hufflepuff's cup.

Moaning Myrtle's bathroom contains the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets. The entrance is a sink with a snake scratched onto the tap, opened by speaking in Parseltongue. This causes the sink to open into a pipe large enough for a person to slide down. At the bottom of this chute is a tunnel leading to the Chamber of Secrets. When Tom Riddle opened the Chamber, Myrtle was sulking in a stall. When she heard him, she opened the door, saw the Basilisk, and died immediately, becoming a ghost. Her bathroom remains operational, but is rarely used by students because of Myrtle's disagreeable presence.


There are nine known secret passages in and out of the school. Filch knows just four of these, though where they lead is unknown. The other five are:

  • A passage beneath the Whomping Willow, leading to the Shrieking Shack.
  • A passage behind a mirror on the fourth floor, which is caved in. To where it leads is unknown, although Sirius mentions in book five that it is large enough for an organisation.
  • A passage beneath a one-eyed witch statue by the stairs to the Defence Against the Dark Arts, leading to the cellar of Honeydukes. Speaking aloud the word ‘Dissendium’ to the witch accesses this passage, the hump on the statue then opens and reveals the hidden passageway.
  • A link between two vanishing cabinets, one in the school and the other in Borgin and Burkes in Knockturn Alley. This link presumably worked until Chamber of Secrets when Peeves (persuaded by Nearly Headless Nick) smashed the Hogwarts cabinet. The passage was reopened in Half-Blood Prince when Draco fixed the cabinet. This passage is not shown on the Marauder's Map.
  • A passage in the Room of Requirement, leading to the Hog's Head bar, however due to the nature of the Room of Requirement, it is possible that several passages to different locations could be accessed from it. This passage is created in Deathly Hallows and is therefore not shown on the Marauder's Map.

Room of Requirement

Located on the seventh floor opposite an enormous tapestry depicting Barnabas the Barmy attempting to train trolls for the ballet, the Room of Requirement appears only when someone is in need of it. To make it appear, one must walk past its hidden entrance three times while concentrating on what is needed. The room will then appear, outfitted with whatever is required. To the Hogwarts house-elves it is also known as the Come and Go Room.

Dumbledore was first to mention the room, noting that he discovered it at five-thirty in the morning, filled with chamber pots when he was trying to find a toilet. However, Dumbledore did not appear to know the Room's specific secrets. Dobby later told Harry of the Room in detail and admitted to frequently bringing Winky to the room to cure her bouts of Butterbeer-induced drunkenness, finding it full of antidotes and a "nice elf-sized bed". Filch was said to find cleaning supplies here when he had run out; when Fred and George needed a place to hide, it would appear in the form of a broom cupboard. Trelawney also makes a habit of using it to hide her empty sherry bottles after she is sacked in Order of the Phoenix. It would seem that when one wishes to hide something it produces the same room for everyone: the Room of Hidden Things, which is full of many centuries worth of abandoned objects, such as broken furniture, books, and possessions, which were presumably forgotten by their owners.

Harry learned of the room's abilities from Dobby, finding it the perfect location for his Dumbledore's Army meetings, during which it would be filled with bookcases full of Defence Against the Dark Arts volumes, many different kinds of Dark Detectors, and a plethora of floor cushions for practicing defensive spells. When the D.A. was betrayed, the room provided Pansy Parkinson with the list of members of the organisation. In Half-Blood Prince Harry used the Room of Hidden Things to stash his copy of Advanced Potion-Making, describing it as the size of a large cathedral and packed to overflowing with items hidden by Hogwarts inhabitants over the years, such as old potions, clothing, ruined furniture, an old tiara (which happened to be one of Voldemort's Horcruxes), or books which were "no doubt banned or graffitied or stolen". He later realized that Draco had been using the room in that same state to hide and repair the Vanishing Cabinet in order to use it to smuggle Death Eaters into Hogwarts.

In Deathly Hallows, the students who need a place to hide from the Carrows, two Death Eater professors, use the room. It is also revealed that the Room of Requirement's current version can change while still occupied, though should a completely different version be required (e.g. the Room of Hidden Things instead of DA Headquarters) the room must be empty. The Room can also answer to the desire of the wizard within the room, such as providing Harry with a whistle when he needed one during a Dumbledore's Army meeting, or creating a passage to the Hog's Head (as the room cannot produce food). Later, Ravenclaw's diadem is found to be one of Voldemort's Horcruxes and has been hidden in the Room of Hidden Things (a manifestation of the Room of Requirement) by Voldemort himself. Harry, Ron, and Hermione enter the Room, with Harry knowing that he must look for a place to hide things, and find the tiara; but they are ambushed by Draco, Crabbe and Goyle. The diadem is finally destroyed when Crabbe fills this version of the Room with what Hermione believes to have been Fiendfyre; a particularly destructive magical fire. It is not known if the room continues to function after the events of Deathly Hallows; Ron expresses concern that it may have been ruined in all of its forms by the cursed fire.

Forbidden Forest

The Forbidden Forest is a large, dark forest to the east of Hogwarts Castle. It is usually referred to simply as "the Forest" and in the film series as the "Dark Forest". It is strictly forbidden to all students, except during Care of Magical Creatures lessons and, on rare occasions, detentions.

Among the plant species within the Forest are trees such as beech, oak, pine, sycamore, and yew, as well as undergrowth including knotgrass and thorns. Though the Forest is vastly dense and wild, there are a few paths and clearings. Hagrid, who frequently travels into the Forest for various reasons mostly makes these. The Forest is also home to an assortment of creatures. The following is an (incomplete) list of beasts that inhabit the forest:

  • A herd of at least 50 Centaurs, including Bane, Magorian, Ronan, and Firenze.
  • A colony of Acromantulas, Aragog and his family, which may have been wiped out by Death Eaters.
  • Unicorns
  • Thestrals
  • Bowtruckles
  • Fluffy, a three-headed dog who was released into the forest after the events of Philosopher's Stone.
  • Grawp, a "small" giant, lived in the Forest during Order of the Phoenix. Dumbledore later arranged for him to move up to the mountains surrounding Hogwarts and live in a big cave, where he is "much happier than he was in the Forest"

The Hogwarts Express

The Hogwarts Express is the magical train that carries students between London and Hogsmeade. The train starts from King's Cross railway station Platform 9¾. Prefects of the school ride in a separate carriage near the front of the train. The compartments on the train appear to be lettered; in Half-Blood Prince, for example, the "Slug Club" meet in compartment C, which is probably near the back of the train. In Philosopher's Stone, Harry meets his two best friends, Ron and Hermione, on his first ride on the Hogwarts Express. In the books, he has been on the train ten times: twice each in the first, third, fourth, and fifth books, and once each in the second (in which he and Ron arrive instead in a flying car) and the sixth (which ends before Harry leaves Hogwarts). After each of his first six school years, his uncle and aunt meet Harry after getting off the train; even though they dislike him, they have never failed to pick him up.

The steam engine used in the film adaptations is the GWR 4900 Class 5972 Olton Hall. Several model trains have been made of the Hogwarts Express. An 00 gauge is produced by Hornby, though this is of a Castle Class locomotive rather than the Hall Class used in the films. A three-rail H0 gauge model is produced by Märklin, and a two-rail H0/00 was produced in the early 2000s by Bachmann. Several now-discontinued L gauge models have been produced by LEGO. Lionel has released an O gauge set in their 2007 catalogue, as well as a G gauge set for 2008.

Coat of arms, school motto, school song


  • Shield renaissance, Quarterly, I gules a lion salient to sinister Or, II vert a serpent argent, III Or a badger reguardant proper, IV azure an eagle displayed Or, in fesse couped Or scroll with letter H sable, top riband for the name Hogwarts, base riband for the motto "Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus".

The motto of Hogwarts is "Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus," which is the Latin for "Never tickle a sleeping dragon", although a more liberal translation might be "Let sleeping dragons lie". Rowling said she wanted a practical motto for Hogwarts, since so many schools have vague ones. Appropriately, Harry Potter in his second year calls causing trouble in Snape's lesson as safe as 'poking a sleeping dragon in the eye'.

The school song is sung only once in the series, in Philosopher's Stone at Harry's first meal in the Great Hall. The song does not have a set tune; everyone sings the lyrics to a tune and time of their choosing, a tradition that the rest of the teachers find a little unnecessary. It has been mentioned in the book that Fred and George sang this song in the tune of a slow, funeral march.


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