The Oxford Union has for many years been a forum for high class debating, and many of the country's most prestigious speakers gained their eloquence in the debating chamber which has hosted guests ranging from Ronald Reagan to the Dalai Lama.
Union debating is divided into three broad areas:
- Our traditional Thursday night debate, preceded by the debate dinner and followed by President's Drinks.
- Debating workshops, usually on a Sunday evening (see the Term Card for more details).
- International competitive debating: we are the current Worlds and European Champions.
The Union was founded as a debating society, and debates are still its lifeblood. Members are encouraged to participate in all of these debates. Before and after every formal debate each Thurday, there is a 45-minute informal debate at which any Member can speak. It is an ideal opportunity for the less confident and first-time speakers to practice debating, as the Chamber is often reasonably quiet. You can also attend the Sunday evening practice sessions to hone your skills.
Thursday Debate Topics
Debate topics range from heavywight political and ethical arguments, to often more lighthearted motions: aliens, Oasis vs. the Beatles, and sport have all been recent topics. Whatever you are interested in, you can be sure of one thing at the Oxford Union - there will be speakers you want to hear, guests you want to challenge and debates you'll want to listen to.