Yer a solicitor, 'arry! Indian uni takes cues from 'Potterverse' to teach students law

Siriusly, though Granger things have happened

Harry Potter

What can identity and class rights as seen in the enslavement of house elves or the marginalisation of werewolves, giants and centaurs possibly teach India's future legal eagles? One institution believes it has the answer.

West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences in Kolkata is due to launch a module titled "An interface between Fantasy Fiction Literature and Law: Special focus on Rowling's Potterverse" in December.

That's right – a reputable faculty reckons parallels can be drawn between JK Rowling's smash-hit series of witchcraft and wizardry novels and the intricacies of real-life law.

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The course's designer, Professor Shouvik Kumar Guha, told the BBC it is an "experiment" to "encourage creative thinking", which already has its fill of 40 students signed up, with rabid superfans begging for the class size to be expanded.

When the course kicks off, those lucky lawyers-in-waiting can expect to examine topics not limited to: legal traditions and institutions, including liberty and the rule of law in a magical society, and bureaucracy in the ministry of magic; unforgivable curses, Wizengamot trials, the innocence of Sirius Black and the persecution of Tom Riddle; contracts and agency – for instance, unbreakable vows and Snape and the order of Phoenix; and Quidditch and sports law at Hogwarts.

All this over 45 hours of discussion-based teaching.

"In our current system, we simply tell students the black letter of law," Guha said. "Will they be able to apply pre-existing laws to situations that have never come up before?"

He added that because India is "going through massive changes", he wanted to use the setting to teach students how to respond to new situations.

Harry Potter has form in the academic world – Durham University possibly started it all by using the series to underpin a module in its Education Studies BA degree as far back as 2010, placing the novels "in their wider social and cultural context".

But before you rip the uni a new one (on matters of taste if not for its playful approach to such a weighty, important subject like law), remember that it is just a small part of a wider and prestigious degree, and not Staffordshire's infamous "David Beckham Studies" or indeed "Beyoncé as a Political Figure?", which was taught at Rutgers University in New Jersey, US.

Of course it stinks of publicity stunt, though The Reg is happy to be proven Ron. We don't mean to be patronus-ing. Let's just hope the students don't muggle up fact and fiction, and Slytherin to professional life with a solid grasp on their chosen subject. ®




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