Unlike at Hogwarts, where a quirky headmaster may cancel finals simply because some kid defeated a Basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets, college is supposed to be a rigorous academic challenge. Yet one California University is dropping that pretense to give students what they really want: classes about Harry Potter.

Jezebel unearthed a California State San Marcos travel abroad class themed around the boy wizard. For about $5,000, students get to spend a few weeks in the U.K. visiting various sites connected to the Harry Potter series while “learning” about British culture. According to the CSU San Marcos website, the program lets students:

  • Explore and experience through travel the cultural and historical locations in England and Scotland that inspired the Harry Potter series
  • Identify and assess the similarities and differences between the novels and films and the ways in which each drew inspiration from cultural sites in Great Britain
  • Develop critical thinking skills about complex social issues relating to inequality, race, and gender within the context of contemporary Great Britain.


In between all that “critical analysis” (aka listing things that got cut from the films, R.I.P. Winky), the program is mostly a guided tour through various filming locations, including a visit to the elaborate Warner Bros. Studios Tour London. While the list of locations is pretty standard (Kings Cross Station, Gloucester Castle, the Elephant Cafe), the course description claims that at Alnwick Castle, students will be treated to a “real broomstick flying lesson.” That’s a boast that should set off Sneakoscopes immediately, unless CSU San Marcos actually has access to the Wizarding World. In which case, $5,000 is a steal.

To be fair, the program seems to be billed as more of a summer trip than an actual class, although students do receive three units of credit for participating. According to the website, non-students are allowed to attend as well and are encouraged to inquire for more details. And now that this class is getting national attention, CSU San Marcos can likely expect to see a lot of non-students sign up.