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Jess Zibung

Jess moved from New Zealand to Melbourne to pursue communications. She is now studying at The University of Melbourne with her copywriting career at IDP

Top UK and Ireland universities for Hogwarts fans

When asked about your ideal study abroad experience, do you secretly think Hogwarts?  For those who grew up obsessing over the latest Harry Potter books and re-watching the movies, the idea of attending school in Hogwarts Castle, geeking out in the Ravenclaw library or relaxing in the Gryffindor common room was a massive part of the Hogwarts magic that captured our imaginations (and started some pretty fanciful study abroad dreams).

To help make your muggle dreams a reality, here are some of our top UK and Ireland universities for the ideal Hogwarts study experience while still attaining a prestigious degree that you can justify to your parents and set you up for international success.

The University of Edinburgh 

#20 in QS World University Rankings 2021

#30 in Times Higher Education World Rankings 2020 

The city of Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and the adopted home of author J.K Rowling. It was in the cafes of this very city that J.K Rowling wrote the majority of the Harry Potter books, which is not hard to believe since Edinburgh is also the world’s first UNESCO city of literature.

In Edinburgh, you’ll find many of Rowling’s inspirations for the Harry Potter novels, from the city’s Gothic architecture and the eerie graveyards, to the narrow medieval shops on Victoria Street that inspired Diagon Alley.

And if you’re going to live in Edinburgh, then The University of Edinburgh is your top option. Some of the university’s older building such as the Gothic-style Teviot Row House is evocative of Hogwarts and the Potter world, and if you want more of a literary fix then the Edinburgh’s Writers’ Museum is only a short walk from the university.

Edinburgh is the ideal study destination for fans that will argue the book triumphs the movie (and will unfriend you if you don’t agree) and really for anyone that loves reading and literature.  

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University of Glasgow 

#77 in QS World University Rankings 2021 

#99 in Times Higher Education World Rankings 2020 

According to Rowling, the elusive Hogwarts Castle is meant to be located somewhere in the Highlands of Scotland, and for many The University of Glasgow bears the closest resemblance to Hogwarts.

The University of Glasgow is a beautiful and breathtaking university that’s over 500 years old. With its hilltop location, gothic spires, green lawns, inner courtyard and majestic great halls, its little wonder that many visitors and students see the connections between the university’s main building and Hogwarts Castle.

There are also many cobblestone alleyways and streets that will have you feeling like you’re visiting Diagon Alley or enjoying a butterbeer pint at the The Three Broomsticks.  

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Durham University 

#86 in QS World University Rankings 2021

#133 in Times Higher Education World Rankings 2020

If you’re a fan of the Harry Potter world of muggles, wizards and magical creatures, then this one might be the university that tops your list for two impressive reasons.

First, Durham University is one of the oldest universities in the UK. This means, like Hogwarts Castle, you’ll be going to uni in a castle. Yup. An authenticated legitimate UNESCO Heritage Listed castle. There won’t be any other moments in your life where you’ll get to say ‘I went to college in a medieval castle’.

Second, you can actually study Harry Potter as a subject. Durham University offers the Harry Potter and the Age of Illusion module within the School of Education. This means you can develop your critical thinking and research skills while putting your Harry Potter fandom to the literal test. No one will be able to doubt your commitment after that. No one. 

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University of Oxford

#5 in QS World University Rankings 2021

#1 in Times Higher Education World Rankings 2020 

If you’re a true-blue Ravenclaw, then the University of Oxford will probably be your pick of the bunch.

Not only is it the #1 ranked university in the world according to the Times Higher Education World Rankings 2020, but it has the Bodleian Library, one of the world’s most famous libraries. Seriously, what more can a studious Ravenclaw want? 

The Potter connection doesn’t stop there. The small university city of Oxford is closely attached to the movies because of the numerous film locations or inspirations for the set design.

You’ll recognise several Hogwarts film locations that were shot in Oxford University, such as the Bodleian Library or the Christ Church College, so Harry Potter movie buffs will always find something to delight in.

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University of Exeter 

#164 in QS World University Rankings 2021 (51-100 for English Language and Literature)

#146 in Times Higher Education World Rankings 2020 

If you’re interested in the real-life story behind the magic of Harry Potter, then this will be the obvious choice.

While the self-professed Gryffindor author admitted she spent more time reading Tolkien and Dickens than doing schoolwork, it was at Exeter where Rowling started on her literary path. She was admitted in 1982 and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in French and Classics in 1986. 

Since the worldwide success of Harry Potter, Rowling has become one the Exeter’s most cherished alumni (obviously!), and parts of the university and surrounding areas are rumoured to have inspired many locations in the novels.  

So, if your goal in life is to walk in the footsteps of the most successful author in the world, then the obvious way to start will be to attend the same university.

And you won’t be alone. You can share your dedicated Rowling fandom by joining University of Exeter Student’s Guild Harry Potter and Quidditch Society and represent your colours in a real-life Quidditch match. How’s that for a reason to finally get into college sports? 

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University College Cork (UCC) 

#286 in QS World University Rankings 2021

#301–350 in Times Higher Education World Rankings 2020 

The University College Cork (UCC) is a self-proclaimed ‘Hogwarts of Ireland’, which is a well-deserved title since they really take their Potter lore seriously.

So, if you’ve decided on Ireland as your ideal study destination, then UCC has a lot of similarities with Hogwarts, from the limestone quads the bear resemblance to the halls of Hogwarts to the Gallery of Portraits and much more.

To top it all off, the UCC Harry Potter Society is a popular student society filled with passionate members who are dedicated to recreating the events that would take place in Hogwarts.

While the UCC Harry Potter Society is magically limited from being able to send out flying acceptance letters or match you with magical owls (or cats and rats), there is a sorting hat ceremony and a Yule ball to make your childhood dreams come true.

Studying abroad is already a once-in-a-lifetime experience but choosing the right university can transform university into a magical experience straight out of your childhood dreams. 

So, if your serious about taking the next steps in your study abroad goals, then get in touch with an IDP muggle to find your perfect fit.

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