Tell me all about the world of academia in Harry Potter. Are there magical universities? What fields exist beyond what gets taught at Hogwarts? What do philosophy and science and the arts look like in the magical world? What would you write your dissertation on?
There are not magical universities, but students with exceptional magical gifts are often mentored by more experienced magical academicians. It is common for professors at the eleven wizarding schools to conduct and publish research. However, there are many other people who are not academics who also publish. This is particularly common among wandmakers, potioneers, healers, and government officials. However, intellectuals from many walks of life participate. For example, before his death, ice cream parlour owner Florean Fortescue was a frequent publisher in the periodicals Magical History and Philosophical and Ethical Issues in Magic.
Speaking of periodicals, research-oriented periodicals have existed in the wizarding world since the late 18th century. They were originally established by wizards who followed topics in non-magical academics and found the format to be useful. The first seven journals were the only journals until the middle of the 19th century. With the exception of Clairvoyant and Alchemical Studies, they are now the most prestigious journals in magic. I'm hoping that this section gives you a sampling of the most active areas of magical academia.
The Practical Potioneer. The very first magical scholarly periodical. Contains articles about potion methodology, brewing, and application.
Transfiguration Today. Contains articles about all types of magical transfigurations. More recently focuses on non-human transfiguration.
Challenges in Charming. Contains articles about all types of magical charms. Originally had greater emphasis on magical theory, now is more application-focused.
Wandlore. Contains primarily case studies of the creation and use of particular wands with remarkable (or remarkably unremarkable) properties.
Being, Beast, and Creature. Contains articles about non-human magical animals with emphasis on philosophical issues pertaining to the definitions of being, beast, and creature and classification of animals into categories.
Magical Botany. Contains articles about magical plants and magical uses of non-magical plants.
Developments in the Dark Arts. Journal that documents new forms of dark magic. Interestingly, it is typically written by anonymous authors to protect their identities.
Alchemical Studies. Now defunct. Contained articles about magical elixirs (extraordinary potions, such as felix felicis) and the uses of the philosopher's stone and its derivatives.
Clairvoyant. Contains articles about fortune-telling methodologies and prophecies. Now only slightly more prestigious than The Quibbler.
The second generation of scholarly journals were created starting in the middle of the 19th century. They reflect increased recognition of specialized charms and spells in mainstream magical scholarship. Additionally, greater attention was beginning to be paid to theory and philosophy of magic. I've provided a list of English language journals below.
Frontiers in Magic
Advances in Sorcery
Theory for Magicians
Philosophical and Ethical Issues in Magic
Controversies in Magic
History of Magic:
Modern Magical History Review
Wizards and Muggles Throughout History
International Journal of Magical History
Quantitative Journal of Potionmaking
Studies in Potions
Potions of Non-European Origin
Properties of Potions
Theory in Transfiguration
The Journal of Human Transfiguration
Issues in Animal Transfiguration
Empirical Studies of Transfiguration
Sentience and Transfiguration
Non-Traditional Applications of Magic
Journal of Non-Verbal Magic
Journal of Defensive Magic
Jinxes, Hexes, and Curses
Case Studies in Unintentional Magic
Essays on Healing
Unusual Cases in Healing
Journal of Pediatric Healing
The Clinical Journal of Magical Maladies and Healing
Clinical Review of Non-Magical Medicine
Divination and Related Disciplines:
Theoretical Issues in Divination
Proceedings from the International Society of Divination and Arithmancy
Progression in Palmistry
Occlumency and Legilimency:
Magic and Mind
Psychology of the Magical Mind
The International Journal of Dragonology
Magical Organisms of the Old World
Magical Animals and Plants (North America)
Magical Animals and Plants (South America)
Australian Journal of Magical Fauna and Flora
Magical Marine Life
Archives of Muggle Studies
The Journal of Muggle Studies
Non-Magic Peoples of the New World
Muggle Scholarship Review
Applications of Muggle Technology
Art and Literature:
Studies of Magical Portraits
Journal of Magical Art
Contemporary Wizarding Art
International Journal of Magical Literature
Magic and Language
The Journal of Quantitative Studies in Wandmaking
Journal of Magical Pedagogy
Cultural Studies in Magic
Studies of Squibs
Magic and Death
Rulings of English-Speaking Wizengamots
Magic and Time
Philosophy, Science, and Art
Philosophy in the wizarding world is pretty similar to philosophy in the muggle world. Metaphysics, epistemology, axiology, and logic are all discussed by learned witches and wizards. However, there are additional questions and applications in magic. Magical metaphysics is also a common area of study. For example, how is it that accidental magic results in anything other than explosions or undifferentiated goo? Does this reflect some underlying aspect of the nature of reality? This is actually quite mysterious if you think about it. The intersection between ethics and magic are also fascinating. One phenomenon that has sparked interest in this topic is that many witches and wizards have found they are incapable of performing unforgiveable curses.
Science has become more of an interest for wizards as muggles have become more technologically advanced. Increasingly, academics are doing sophisticated, controlled experiments to better understand phenomena. For example, many young wandmakers are systematically varying the properties of wands to determine the actual impact of different cores, woods, and lengths.
Wizarding art, as you could imagine, is extremely cool. Many wizarding artists like to use the same techniques and methods of muggle art, such as painting and sculpting. They then enchant the results. However, there are some mediums that wizards can use that muggles cannot, such as potions. Contemporary magical art, as you might imagine, is about pushing the limits of the definition of art. For example, individuals participating in one contemporary movement of magical art are highly interested in enchantments that temporarily influence aesthetic perception. Another group is interested in art without spell-casting, similar to the muggle artistic movement of minimalism.
This might require more than one study, but I think it would be really cool to study incantations and why they work. Why are so many of them in Latin? What is the underlying structure that causes certain words to activate certain spells? If that is already known, then can magic be activated using light, or magnets, or other sounds, or any other medium?
-Sheebs, who is now saddened by the comparative boringness of her actual dissertation