By Laura Harrison |

A few months ago, some fellow PhDs and I went down a bit of a lunchtime discussion rabbit hole that culminated in each of us taking the Sorting Hat quiz on Pottermore. It was possibly the most ‘millennial’ thing that has ever happened.

Unfortunately, the Harry Potter universe does not have Higher Education – or not in any form that has been shared with us yet. As I’m still holding out hope for my Hogwarts letter, what would each house look like if it was packed with PhDs?


Gryffindors are overachievers – not only are you smart but you are also brave and awesome and everything else Gryffindors get to be. You are the person doing a risky project that will more than likely change your field, though there is also the possibility you will crash and burn in a blaze of glory. Of course, Gryffindors are the type who would just pick themselves up and crack on. These are also the people who went on a term abroad to do some work in the middle of Timbuktu and came back with an amazing secret bit of research. However, you are also the most likely to get sidetracked and procrastinate your work a bit and end up always having to do everything at the very end of the academic year. Your twitter bio includes ‘PhD researcher, beer-brewer and mountain biker’.

At a conference…you give your paper without a script. You are also willing to ask the keynote a tough question that would either win you their respect or eternal enmity.


Slytherins are focused, determined, cunning, and resourceful. You’ll probably finish your PhD in 2.5 years, and published three articles in the meantime. You would also be willing to secretly hire a research assistant, like the PhD students of yore. You hoard every scrap of your research, for fear of being scooped by someone else in your field. Slytherins voluntarily read Foucault, and doodle ideal panopticons in the margins of their books. You probably secretly love it when you get to disagree with someone at the top of your field. You have abandoned your shared office space because the person at the desk next to you has an annoying habit of breathing audibly. You will get a fancy post-doc, because you can quote Foucault.

At a conference…you are asking speakers to tell you about their wider methodology. You are also most likely to say, ‘I don’t have a question so much as a comment…’, after emitting audible scoffs throughout the paper.

What do you think funding structures look like for a Hogwarts PhD?


Hufflepuffs are traditionally loyal, honest, genuine, hard-working and rather dorky. You are the person who brings snacks to seminars, and attempts to get everyone together for social events. You’re the last person in the office each evening, but you still volunteer walking rescue pets and do yoga five times a week. You are probably involved in a lot of things outside your thesis. Hufflepuffs are the most likely to have taken the opportunity to get a pet during your PhD. You’re the person who returns their marking a week before the deadline. You are also the most likely to write a blog post about the children’s series you are still in love with.

At a conference…you probably preface your question with, ‘Thanks so much for that paper, that was really interesting…’ You are also really just there for the biscuits.


Ravenclaws are intelligent, witty, full of wisdom, and generally just super nerds. These people rock pub quizzes. Your research is methodology driven, and you have read every single thing that’s even tangentially related to your subject. You can also reference said books off the top of your head, like a walking bibliography. Ravenclaws don’t need swipe-card access to buildings, they just impress door mechanisms with their knowledge of philosophical concepts and get let straight in. You’re in a constant battle with the library over how many books you can take out at once. Ravenclaws occasionally need to blow off steam, so they can party hard, then somehow be perky in the office at 8:30 the next morning.

At a conference…you give encouraging nods while the speaker is talking, then ask seemingly short, innocuous questions that completely change the way they view their own research. You probably brought the wine, aka ‘brain juice’.


Laura Harrison is the founder of Pubs and Publications. One of her major coping mechanisms for the PhD is re-reading Harry Potter, and thus she can’t believe it has taken her two years to write a post about it. In related news – this week is our second birthday!


Image 1: Wikipedia; Image 2: Flickr