Durham is one of the leaders on the UK debating circuit: every week the Union sends out debaters to compete in competitions all around the UK. In addition to domestic success, Durham annually sends out debaters to the European Universities Debating Championships and the World Universities Debating Championships. With three training streams weekly, internal competitions and guaranteed funding for debaters of all abilities to access external competitions we offer the opportunity for speakers of any or no prior experience to develop and compete around the country.

Debate Training

If you’re interested in practicing competitive debating, our training sessions usually take place 3 times a week during term time:
• Novice Debate Practice (NDP): Mondays at 19:00
• Intermediate Debate Practice (IDP): Thursdays at 19:00
• Advanced Debate Practice (ADP): Tuesdays at 19:00

Where does training take place?:
Sessions take place in room PG20 , on the ground floor of the Pemberton Building, Palace Green below the debate chamber.
For more information, take a look at our Term Card, Debating Calendar, or follow us on Instagram @durhamdebating

UK Competitions

If you would like the chance to improve your skills and represent the University in a competitive environment you will be given the opportunity to enter competitions in Durham and around the UK.

The Union has an excellent reputation on the circuit and it has shown itself to be one of the most successful squads, with strong performances in all major competitions, including winning in Bristol, Royal Holloway, Manchester, Sheffield and Newcastle over the last few years.

Each year we host two competitions: the IV (one of the best university debating competitions in the country) and Durham Schools (the world’s largest residential school-level competition), both with plenty of opportunities to speak, judge and volunteer!

International Competitions

As well as domestic competitions, we send teams to World and European Championships – this is a great chance to travel, with Spain, Bulgaria and Vietnam the next three destinations. The Union has been a major force in European debating for several years.  At the 2015 World Championships in Kuala Lumpur, Durham A placed 9th overall, an incredible achievement! In 2014 two teams reached the semi-finals of the European Championships in Zagreb, the hardest competition in the world to break at. The 2015 teams narrowly missed out on the break, with Durham A finishing 17th.

Durham regularly sends teams abroad, particularly over the holidays. Other than the above, recent successes have occurred in the Netherlands, Israel, Greece and Ireland.

I came into Durham having never debated competitively before, and since then thanks to the training and opportunities on offer represented Durham in competitions across the country and across Europe, and have made friends for life both in Durham and from across the world

Matthew Midlane


Debating isn’t just about arguing over topical issues. Only at debating competitions will you be able meet hundreds of other students from around the world – debating, socialising and staying with them. You have the opportunity to travel the country, travel the world, have fun and debate at the same time. These unique experiences are only available with a Union membership.

Want to learn more? Check out our Facebook or Instagram, or view our debating guide here.