top of page


Starting your debating career might initially be confusing. Here is the guide to help you with it. If you have any additional questions, contact us. Don't forget to also check out the Debate Vocabulary here.

What are the different kinds of competitions?

  • IV (intervarsity) is a competition where both members of the team need to study at the same institution.

  • Open competitions do not have a requirement of debaters being from the same university, they actually do not even have to be student.

  • Euros (EUDC) and Worlds (WUDC) are the two main international competitions.

  • Pro-Am is a competition where one of the members needs to be a ‘’professional’’ and the other is a debate ‘’amateur’’ (a novice debater). Usually, a novice is defined as a debater who is debating for less than a year and has no breaks at Open competitions (some tournaments still consider you a novice after you have broken once).

  • Novice is a competition where all debaters need to meet the criteria of a novice speaker (defined above).

What do competitions look like?

  • At the beginning of competitions, everybody will be gathered in a predetermined hall, where the participants are reminded of the rules, equity and opt-out policy, schedule and are told where exactly will debates take place.

  • Then, you will be told which room and which position you will be speaking in (OG, OO, CG, CO) and who you are debating against. At last, the 15 minutes preparation time commences and the info-slide and the motion is announced.

  • OG always prepares in the assigned room, but the other three teams have to find another spot, usually somewhere near the room.

  • Before every round, the Chair judge will ask you for your preferred gender pronouns (see the details here). The debate rounds at competitions are similar to those at Monday’s workshop.

  • After some preliminary rounds, the top few teams ‘’break’’ off and take parts in knockout rounds.

  • In the evening, there are usually free socials with food and drink, which is a great way for you to meet students from other universities. Accommodation (crash) is usually provided but you might have to sleep on the floor.

What do I have to do before the competition?

  • Find competition you want to go to – You can find the information on Facebook where there is an event for every competition. You can also find a list of some of the competitions here.

  • Show interest – Fill in the Interest Form here.

  • Attend trials – Trials are held only for some of the competitions: Oxford IV, Cambridge IV, EUDC and WUDC.

  • Apply – If you have completed the Form (or were selected at the trials) you will receive an email containing more information from our Competitions Officer. If the tournament was not listed on the Interest Form, you need to follow the procedure stated on the Facebook event page for the specific competition.

  • Pre-reg – Before the competition, you need to pre-register. Forms will be posted on the Facebook event. Our team names are usually Edinburgh ______ (insert a name of your liking) except for the Open competitions.

  • Reg – When you arrive to the venue, you need to tell the organizers that you are indeed there. Ask around where exactly you can register.

  • Clash – If there is someone you do not want to judge or be judged by you should fill in the clash form, which you can find on the Facebook event. 

  • Remember the rules – Competitions are easier if you know the rules of debating beforehand. You can find them here.

  • If you have any questions at all please feel free to speak to any committee member! - Your first competition can be confusing, and you are bound to have questions so please feel free to ask us for help!

Are there any costs?

  • There is a registration fee, but that for novices, this is covered by EUDU for your first two competitions at this university.

    • EUDU will cover half of registration fee for the remaining four competitions of that academic year.

  • Accommodation is free if you decide to crash. You will find out who you are staying with by the organizers.

  • You will have to finance the traveling costs and organize your route yourself. We usually travel by trains, thus you might want to consider buying the 15-26 RailCard. Do not forget to wake up your partner!

    • You’ll get £15 travel subsidy for attending competitions that aren’t in Scotland, Durham or Newcastle

    • Try communicate with other members travelling to the same competition - this reduces the chances of losing people along the way!

What is expected from me?

  • As debating is all about improvement, we do not have an expectation of your debating performance (except that you do your best). However, as you do represent our University and our Society, we would appreciate that you are respectful toward other participants at the event and do not breach the equity policies. Additionally, you should contact us in advance if you wish to drop out, so a substitute speaker can be found and your partner is not left to speak alone. 

What do I need to bring with me?

  • 16-25 RailCard

  • Money

  • Pens and a notebook/laptop 

  • Sleeping bag/blanket (if you are crashing)

  • Phone charger

Good luck!

bottom of page