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Competitive Debating & Workshops

The Oxford Union is one of the oldest and most successful competitive debating societies in the world. Whether you are looking to compete in tournaments, develop your confidence, or find a causal hobby, the Oxford Union has something for you.

Details of our workshops can be found below, and range from casual beginner sessions to rigorous training programmes. All members are encouraged to participate and no prior debating experience is required.

For up-to-date information about competitive debating, relevant announcements, and updates on the timing and location of squads, please sign up to the Debate Announce mailing list by sending a blank email to If you have any questions, please contact

Beginner Workshops

The Union holds debating workshops designed for those with little to no previous debating experience. No applications or trials are necessary, there is no expectation to attend every session, and there is no obligation to participate in practice debates. Attendees are taught the format, style and content of British Parliamentary debating, and workshops generally include:

- A 15 minute workshop on a debating skill or topic.

- A practice debate judged by one of our experienced coaches.

- A feedback session from top debaters.

Beginner Workshops are typically held in the Macmillan Room at 19:30 every Monday during term time. In Michaelmas Term, Workshops start in Week 2.

Training Squads

Intermediate Squads and Advanced Squads are intended for those with more experience. Debaters are allocated to these Squads according to their ability and prior experience, or by being promoted from Beginners Squads. The format across all levels is typically the same: participants are first given a brief workshop on a debating skill, followed by the choice to participate in a practice debate judged by one of our experienced coaches.

Squads are typically held in the Macmillan Room at 19:30 every Tuesday (Intermediate Squads) and Wednesday (Advanced Squads) during term time. In Michaelmas Term, Squads start in Week 2.

Hosting Competitions

The Oxford Union hosts competitions attended by school and university students from all over the world. Members are encouraged to judge and run these prestigious competitions, and help encourage school students to get involved in debating.

Each November, we welcome over 200 debaters to the Oxford IV, our flagship university-level competition. From January to March, we host Oxford Schools’, one of the world’s largest debating competitions for school students, involving over 1000 students and regional rounds across the world. Every alternate year, we host the International Competition for Young Debaters (ICYD) at the start of Trinity Term, the only international debating competition for students under the age of 15.


We select members to compete in debating tournaments across the UK and internationally. Travel to represent Oxford in Paris, Texas, Copenhagen and many more, with travel expenses paid for by the Oxford Union.

To maximise opportunities for all members, we also send teams to competitions specifically designed for novices and encourage the selection of ESL speakers.

Contact details

Frewin Court
Oxford, OX1 3JB

+44 (0)1865 241353

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