since 1965  (really?)

Magic: The Art and Theory of Deception

This course listing applies to a Spring 2016 course. To find current courses, check out the Find a Course page.

Spring 2016
Theater 98
1 Unit(s)

Human friendly URL (OBSOLETE)


About the Course:

This will be Magicial Nathaniel's 7th and final semester teaching the Magic DeCal!


Magic: The Art and Theory of Deception is a DeCal about magic and is specially designed to not only unveil the secrets of basic magic effects, but teach the performance methods and creativity behind why magic works. Students with little or no magic experience are highly welcomed to attend this course and join us in exploring the fundamental aspects in the creation of magic. You will learn the basic theories of magic, psychology, history, skills of how to perform magic, and gain the confidence to perform for real people. All magic will be focused on card magic that can be performed in a public, close-up setting. The goal is to spread the knowledge and appreciation of magic. While we will teach many secrets of magic, the main purpose of this course is to help illustrate the true beauty of magic and help give students confidence and creativity to perform magic whenever and wherever. The class will conclude in a final where students will take a trick of their choosing and perform for people around campus. For additional information about the course, email:


Reading list: Will be given in pdf form and emailed out to all students of the DeCal.


Frequency and duration of class meetings

There will be two classes per week. The course is designed as a 1 unit course and students attend Tuesday and Thursday sessions. Class will be held on Tuesday and Thursday from 5:30 - 7:00 P. M. in 182 Dwinelle.


Description of assignments and requirements for passing the class

1. Attendance & Participation - 40% Attendance is crucial for this course and missing any classes will result in losing the opportunity to learn magic. More importantly, coming to class is essential for getting a good grade on Midterm and Final. Please make necessary arrangements with one of the facilitators to make up for missed material.

2. Midterm - 25% The midterm is designed to give the students an opportunity to perform magic for real people. This is a P/NP test and students can retake the test until they pass to ensure a progression in their magic career.

3. Final - 35% A major part of the grade will come from a final performance at the end of the class with a trick taught in class or a routine that is created by the student. Don’t worry! We will be walking you through the process of creating a routine and help perfect your performance so you’re ready to go!


4. “Extra Credit” Since this class is P/NP, it is difficult to give actual credit, but doing these optional ‘extra credit’ assignments is always appreciated.

Magical Nathaniel puts on a good number of public shows and shows around campus. When he has these shows, he will mention them to the class, and the extra credit assignment is to simply go to the show, and give any thoughts to him when convenient.


Required Materials:  A deck of cards. You are free to use any deck of your choosing, but we highly recommend using Bicycle® brand playing cards. These decks will be available for purchase at a discounted rate.


Key learning outcomes

From this course, students will become familiar with magic, confidently perform magic tricks in public and learn basic routining sills. (Be able to create their magic).

General Course Structure

Class will generally begin with two short videos relating to a theme of a different aspect of magic, followed by a brief discussion and lecture on the history of the magic shown and basic theory behind it. We will then go into the sleight for the week, with lecture/explanation, a trick application, as well as a performance workshop that will give some insight into how to give an even better performance. With the newly learnt trick, students will break into groups and practice their trick, with the topic of the performance workshop as a lens. Class will end with a closing magic trick.

This outline applies to both Tuesday and Thursday classes, but it will differ in how we teach the sleights, the trick itself, the performance workshop topic, the videos, as well as the closing magic trick.


Methods of instruction

1. Lecture: Lectures will be the primary tool to give students information and avenues to pursue magic. Once students become familiar with principles of magic, the practice and performance portions of the class will be more important, but lecture is still a key way to help students learn the nuances of magic without years of practice. Essentially it’s the fast course to becoming a great magician!

2. Office Hours: Office Hours are designed for students who want to explore magic in more depth. This optional discussion will be grouped by instructors outside of class to focus on specific topics. Students are free to drop-by any office hour, and attending office hours can get extra credit for the class. More importantly, however, attending office hours will vastly improve a student’s repertoire and help them cement the image of them as a magician. Students may prepare questions or routines when coming to office hours. Office hours will be held by rotating instructors.


3. DVD Rentals: Nathaniel has a large collection of magic DVD’s that he has collected over the years, and starting around the second or third week of instruction, these DVD’s will be made available for students to borrow. (A full list of titles will be posted). A student can borrow a DVD at a time, and then borrow another title directly after returning the previous one. Most of the magic education you will receive in this course will be from the three facilitators (if you do not learn online), so the DVD’s give students the opportunity to learn from another source. This will also allow students to practice and learn outside of class, and possibly get ideas for tricks they could perform on the Midterm and Final.

4. Open Invitation to Dinner After Class: Since this class ends at 7:00, the facilitators will be getting dinner afterwards. We offer an open invitation to anyone who would like to join us. Magic is a very social art form, and we want to try to show that in the time after the formally structured class. These dinners can be considered informal office hours, where students can ask questions, learn tricks, talk about magic, work on routining, and get to know the students and facilitators. Most days there will be at least one or more facilitators attending dinner. This can be a chance to get to know us outside of class, and have fun with fellow magicians!


5. Guest Lectures: This semester, we will be having one or two guest lecturers who are professional magicians. They will be giving lectures on presentation, acting, and creativity. Tentative dates and other info will be given later in class. 



Instructor Office hours are on Sproul and the times will be given during class.


Click here to watch a promotonal video shot by the DeCal Program about the class.


Magicial Nathaniel is a full time professional magician and Cal student. You can check out his website here:

How to Enroll:

Fill out this Google Form, and we'll contact you on a first come first served basis!

Course Contact: nsegal AT


Faculty Sponsor: Catherine Cole

Time & Location:

Nathaniel Segal
40182 DwinelleTuTh 5:30p-7p1/26full

Uploaded Files:

Syllabus: The Magic DeCal Spring 16 Syllabus.pdfJan 13232kbAdobe PDF (Viewer)View Download

Course info last modified February 2, 2016. This page has been viewed 2799 times.

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