Debate Formats

The Bard Debate Union offers students the opportunity to compete regionally and nationally in the “British Parliamentary” (BP) debate format.

British Parliamentary Debate

British Parliamentary Debate is a format of debate that focuses on persuasion, presentation, and improvisational skills.

In this format of debate, students are given a topic 15 minutes before the debate begins, and each two-person team must prepare a case, based on their assigned position in the debate.

A few examples of motions used in BP debate include: “This house would ban the personal possession of handguns,” “This house would invade Zimbabwe,” and “This house believes that the world was a better place before Facebook.” As is clear from these examples, motions in BP debate can range from specific policy actions to beliefs in certain political and philosophical positions, and thus students are expected to have conducted a significant amount of research on current events and various political positions and principles.

In BP debate, four teams debate against one another at a time—two teams defend the motion and two teams negate. The judge then ranks the teams one through four. Individual speeches are expected to be rhetorical and persuasive and students are not permitted to read outside evidence in the rounds. This format of debate is the most commonly debated format throughout the world.