The University of Exeter is launching a new program in September 2024 called the MA in Magic and Occult Science. This program is all about exploring ideas in a different way, according to its leader, Professor Emily Selove.
Selove explained on BBC Radio 4’s Today program that this degree in magic takes a fresh approach to studying history, science, philosophy, religion, and literature. It looks at these subjects from a unique perspective that hasn’t received much attention from scholars before.
The university mentioned that this course will give students a chance to delve into the history and effects of witchcraft and magic worldwide, including their influence on society and science.
Experts in various fields such as history, literature, philosophy, archaeology, sociology, psychology, drama, and religion will be teaching the course. They will help students understand how magic has played a role in both Western and Eastern cultures, according to the university.
University already received more than a hundred inquiries for MA degree in Magic and Occult Sciences
Professor Selove explained that these studies provide a unique viewpoint that hasn’t received much attention from recent scholars.
She further noted that there had been significant interest in the course since its announcement, with the university receiving over a hundred inquiries from prospective students.
She acknowledged in speaking with the BBC that when people hear the word ‘magic,’ they often react quickly without giving it much thought. This has resulted in the neglect of many significant texts and trends in the history of ideas.
A degree in magic will be one of the first in the UK, the University of Exeter has said. The "innovative" MA in Magic and Occult Science has been created following a "recent surge in interest in magic", the course leader said. The one-year programme starts Sept 2024. pic.twitter.com/3NTW7rXuFN
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The interest in studying magic is on the rise, both within and outside of academic circles. This is because people are searching for fresh perspectives on how we connect with other human cultures and the natural world, explained Selove.
Selove said that our ancestors had some intriguing ideas that we may have disregarded too quickly. These ideas have the potential to be valuable philosophical thoughts and could provide us with a new way of understanding society.
Furthermore, the university mentioned that this course can prepare students for various career paths. These include teaching, counseling, tourism, and mentoring as well as work in heritage settings and museums, libraries, art organizations, and the publishing industry among other options.
A rise in the number of people identifying as pagans
The 2022 census in the UK revealed an increase in the number of individuals identifying as pagans and Wiccans. Moreover, shamanism emerged as the fastest-growing religion, reported The Guardian.
Professor Selove pointed out that the MA in Magic and Occult Science would challenge the belief that the Western world is solely characterized by rationalism and science while the rest of the world is associated with magic and superstition.