English university offers 'magic and occult' course

English university offers 'magic and occult' course

A new postgraduate degree course in magic and occult science will be on offer for students at Exeter University after a "surge in interest" in the subject.

University chiefs claim it would be "foolish to refuse to take it seriously" as the master’s degree prepares to launch next September.

The degree will be offered at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies.

Modules include dragons in western literature and art, the legend of King Arthur, the philosophy of psychedelics, palaeography, Islamic thought, archaeological theory and practice and the depiction of women in the Middle Ages.

Academics with experience in history, literature, philosophy, archaeology, sociology, psychology, drama and religion will run the new course which investigates the role of magic in global culture.

The course will offer students the opportunity to study the history and impact of witchcraft and magic around the world on society and science.

Emily Selove, the course leader and professor in medieval Arabic language and literature, said: "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 degree is the first of its kind in the UK to combine the history of magic with a range of other topics where students can choose between writing a primarily text-based dissertation or using performative techniques.

Selove added: "This MA will allow people to re-examine 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 re-examine the relationship of humans to the natural world and of different human cultures to one another."