Elder Scrolls
Elder Scrolls

First Lessons is a quest available in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. This quest is obtained upon arriving at Winterhold and approaching the beginning of the bridge to the College of Winterhold. It is the first quest in the College of Winterhold's questline.


I've found the College of Winterhold, where mages study the arcane arts in Skyrim. If I want to learn more about magic, I'll need to join their ranks.


  1. Join the College of Winterhold
  2. Cast:
    1. Summon Flame Atronach
    2. Firebolt
    3. Fear
    4. Healing Hands
    5. Magelight
  3. Report to Mirabelle Ervine
  4. Tour the College of Winterhold
  5. Listen to Tolfdir


"Cross the bridge at your own peril. The way is dangerous and the gate will not open. You shall not gain entry."

When approaching the bridge to the College, the guardian of the bridge and the head of the Destruction school at the College, Faralda, will ask the Dragonborn in order to prove their ability to enter the College, by casting a spell, selected randomly. The spell's level will depend on one's level and perks. If the Dragonborn does not know the spell, they can buy its spell tome from her for cheap (30 Gold). They must, however, possess enough Magicka to cast the spell that she asks them to demonstrate. The Dragonborn may try to circumvent this test by Persuasion; however, it requires a very difficult Speech check.

Alternatively, the option to say they are the Dragonborn can be chosen, and instead of a spell, they will be asked to demonstrate the Voice. (This is only an option during the quest "Elder Knowledge.")

She will then lead the Dragonborn to the College and give them a quest to speak with the College leader Mirabelle Ervine (Master Wizard), a mage in the courtyard. This allows the Dragonborn access to the College of Winterhold. She will give some Novice Robes and a Novice Hood to wear if one chooses so. These robes will have an enchantment to make certain spells cost less from one of the five schools of magic. The set is basically the same as the first robe and hood they came across when escaping from Helgen Keep.

The Dragonborn will then be taken on a short tour of the Hall of Attainment and be told to see Tolfdir, head of the Alteration School, in the Hall of the Elements where he is giving a lecture on Magic safety while the students want to skip over it. After a brief exchange with everyone, he decides to ask for the Dragonborn's help in a practical demonstration of ward spells. If one does not have a ward spell learned, he will teach them the Lesser Ward spell for free. Then they will be asked to defend themselves with a ward spell while he casts a long-range fire spell at them (either always a weakened version of firebolt, OR, it's possible the type and power of which is determined by one's level and one's ward spell's level). Once the Dragonborn has defended themselves successfully, Tolfdir will ask the class to travel to Saarthal to take part in an expedition. This finishes First Lessons, and if working to become Thane of Winterhold, this will count towards helping the people of Winterhold as well.


First Lessons – MG01
ID Journal Entry
10 I've found the College of Winterhold, where mages study the arcane arts in Skyrim. If I want to learn more about magic, I'll need to join their ranks.
  • Objective 10: Join the College of Winterhold
20 In order to join the College of Winterhold, I need to show I'm capable of simple magic by casting a Magelight spell.
  • Objective 20: Cast a Mage Light spell
21 In order to join the College of Winterhold, I need to show I'm capable of simple magic by summoning a Flame Atronach.
  • Objective 21: Summon a Flame Atronach
22 In order to join the College of Winterhold, I need to show I'm capable of simple magic by casting a Firebolt spell.
  • Objective 22: Cast a Firebolt spell
23 In order to join the College of Winterhold, I need to show I'm capable of simple magic by casting a Fear spell.
  • Objective 23: Cast a Fear spell
24 In order to join the College of Winterhold, I need to show I'm capable of simple magic by casting Healing Hands on Nirya at the entrance to the College.
  • Objective 24: Cast a Healing Hands spell
30 I've been allowed to join the College of Winterhold, and need to find Mirablle Ervine for a tour of the grounds.
  • Objective 30: Report to Mirabelle Ervine
40 I have joined the College of Winterhold. Mirabelle Ervine has agreed to show me around in order to become familiar with the grounds.
  • Objective 40: Tour the College of Winterhold
50 I have joined the College of Winterhold, and after a tour of the grounds need to find Tolfdir, who looks after the new Apprentices.
  • Objective 50: Listen to Tolfdir
200 After joining the College of Winterhold and speaking with Tolfdir, I've learned a bit about wards and will be accompanying some of the others on an expedition.
  • Quest complete


  • After agreeing to Faralda's test, the Dragonborn does not actually need to complete the demonstration. The Dragonborn can skip directly to the Hall of Elements to participate in Tolfdir's lecture. The gate up ahead prevents passage, however, it can be bypassed with a wooden plate. After finishing Tolfdir's lecture, the next mission, "Under Saarthal," will begin and the gate will become open as he and the students approach it. Faralda will then leave her place and resume her schedule. Doing this, however, will leave an unfinished objective in the "First Lessons" quest.
  • When heading towards Mirabelle, the Dragonborn can see her having an argument with Ancano. She says that the Thalmor will not get special treatment, like with the Empire, but Ancano is here because the Arch-Mage is allowing him to be.
  • It is acceptable to use Spellbreaker when asked to cast a ward by Tolfdir.


This section contains bugs related to First Lessons. Before adding a bug to this list, consider the following:

  1. Please reload an old save to confirm if the bug is still happening.
  2. If the bug is still occurring, please post the bug report with the appropriate system template  360  /  XB1  ,  PS3  /  PS4  ,  PC  /  MAC  ,  NX  /  PS5  ,  XS  , depending on which platform(s) the bug has been encountered on.
  3. Be descriptive when listing the bug and fixes, but avoid having conversations in the description and/or using first-person anecdotes: such discussions belong on the appropriate forum board.
Click to show
  • It is possible for an assassination attempt or a dragon battle to occur in the middle of the Dragonborn's tour with Mirabelle (in the college courtyard), which will interrupt her scripted path and leave it unable to complete – she will resume her normal daily pattern and tell them After I show you the grounds, we can talk if you attempt to interact with her. Tolfdir's class in the Hall of Elements will not be triggered, so they cannot simply skip ahead; to complete the quest and continue the faction storyline they can go to Tolfdir, as the quest will automatically continue when they approach him.
  • When the Dragonborn is supposed to help Tolfdir demonstrate the ward spell there is a possible situation where he doesn't proceed with the spell casting even when their character seems to be standing in the right place, or he may ask them to sustain the ward spell even when it's already actively sustained. This may be due to the trigger area for this scene being a very small and precise area, so when the Dragonborn, and/or the ward spell they are sustaining is not inside the trigger area, the game will not detect it properly. The line of sight to Tolfdir also need to be clear, so make sure that any follower does not block the line of sight between the Dragonborn and Tolfdir. Also, If they release a housecarl while in this place, all the members of the room will immediately become hostile towards him/her and attack. This may cause this bug.
  • The trigger area is in the circle, stand on the left edge, try to face Tolfdir perfectly.
  • The Dragonborn is automatically standing in the trigger circle when Tolfdir speaks to them. When he says Just stand over there, do not move. Just look at him and hold the ward spell till he casts his spell at them.
  • There is a bug that when the Dragonborn tells Tolfdir that they learned the spell Lesser Ward already, he does not proceed with his explanation/demonstration, but instead acts as a normal character not bounded into any quest, so tries to sell his books/robes to them, even if they try to proceed with the demonstration. He is also going to follow them everywhere and is automatically starting a conversation with them; he does not follow them into areas outside the Hall of Elements and stays with the students if they walk away from him faster.
    • Fix: When Tolfdir first moves into position and asks you to stand across from him, move into position facing his character and try slowly stepping backwards or shifting sideways towards the left or right until the Dragonborn is in the right spot and the quest proceeds. If this fails, walk behind Tofldir and kill the students behind him. When this is done, run away from hostile people and fast travel to another town. Go back to the college and Tolfdir will talk about how unfortunate events occurred, and the quest will be completed. Once he asks you to cast the ward spell, if he stops casting his spell halfway and tells you to sustain the ward spell even when you already have it going, do the same thing and shift around until the Dragonborn is in the right spot and he proceeds to cast his spell. Make sure to do this while facing the proper direction (towards him), and while they actively sustaining the ward spell. Otherwise it can be hard to find the right location. Note that any type of ward spell will work here, so if one has trouble sustaining the spell due to lack of mana, be sure to choose the lowest level spell (Lesser Ward), and use potions, enchanted items and other things to temporarily boost your mana. Your companion(s) generally do not affect the completion of this sequence, but if one wishes to avoid any complications (such as them getting hit by standing in the wrong place), the Dragonborn can tell them to wait in a safe position inside the same room. If all else fails, one can complete this quest and auto-start the next one "Under Saarthal" by typing console command setstage Mg01 200.
  • Another way to get past Tolfdir not starting the demonstration is to use Unrelenting Force on him.
  • Sometimes Tolfdir may not continue if the Dragonborn only has the Ward spell equipped to one hand. Make sure it is equipped in both when casting it, and cast it with both. Only then does he continue.
  • Not having a weapon equipped in the non-casting hand seems to help fix the bug.
  • If the Dragonborn is hiding in the entryway out of sight and use a bow to take out a fellow student, then exit undetected, one can skip to the next quest without paying a bounty.
  • If none of the above work, kill one of the new recruits. Then, run out of the College, pay the bounty to a guard and go back to the Hall of Elements and talk to Tolfdir.
  • It is also possible to use Spellbreaker to bypass this glitch if one has already obtained spellbreaker before doing the college questline. Alternatively, open the console and type player.additem 00045F96 "1" then use spellbreaker to block while facing Tolfdir.
  •  PS4   After this quest is completed, it is possible that items inside the Jarl's Longhouse can be taken for free without it being counted as theft, even if the Jarl's quest has yet to be completed.

 PC   To demonstrate the use of a ward with Tolfdir, the Dragonborn has infinite magicka. This persists when leaving the room during the quest.confirmation needed