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Intended Learning Outcome:

To debate in a group and contribute to a critical argument


To get students to develop an argument and think deeply on a given subject you can set up a formal debate. The rules of how to debate in the style of the Oxford Union are given on the accompanying pdf. This will encourage engagement with a subject and foster a sense of group work.


Choose a subject relevant to your module learning. Ask students to write a statement to be argued (e.g. This house believes that Spotify is killing the music industry) and then research data to support or disagree with the statement. You can scaffold the amount of support that students need to do this.

Once the evidence for each side has been researched, set up your debating teams and follow the guidelines on the handout in as much depth as you wish.

After the debate, you may wish to have discussions around whether people changed their opinions and how strongly they felt about the subject etc.


You can scaffold the amount of support that students need. This is an activity that could be prepared within one session with students using phones to gather information or you could give them selected texts as reference. It could also be researched in advance using the VLE to signpost suggested reading. The amount of time you give to this activity can be varied depending on how deep you wish to go.


Large Group Teaching:

You can have up to four speakers to argue for each side plus one Chair, so you need up to nine people for the debate plus an audience – this is perfect for larger groups. You may wish to set up working-party groups to do the research for the speakers to use.

With small groups, you may want to have fewer people in the debating team but the research can still be carried out by the whole class beforehand.

Online Teaching:


Students are engaged in the subject and seek out information to add to their argument.

Next Steps:

You may wish to create a formal debate.

Links to other activities:

Further reading:



Oxford Union debating rules Available at:

The rules on how to debate plus signs for the Ayes and Noes: 

The signs on the doors through which voters go at the end of an Oxford Union debate.You may wish to print & use:

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