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Discordia Concordimus

changing opinions since 1893

The University of Exeter Debating Society has been teaching, competing and platforming British Parliamentary Debate for over 130 years. 

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Our History

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In the midst of celebrating its momentous 130-year anniversary this year, the Exeter University debating society is more than just a debating platform. While the timeless concept of free speech remains a topic of intense debate, the society is proud of its history of defending and platforming a variety of diverse debates and figureheads. From H.H. Asquith to Michael Foot, Anthony Eden to Ludovic Kennedy - we are proud to have a long history of notable speakers to grace our campus halls.


Originally formed as a gentleman's debating society in 1893, Exeter Debating Society is one of the oldest University debating unions in the United Kingdom. The earliest recorded Show Debate was held on an 4th February 1906, entitled 'The advantages of being a member of a large family outweigh the disadvantages'.  The student magazine reported on the event, stating the debate was held with 'eloquence, energy and enthusiasm'.


The First World War proved difficult for the society, with many of its members leaving to fight. Despite this, a number of debates were still held including 'Conscription is necessary for our Empire' (1915) and 'There should be no co-education of the sexes' (1916).  Accounts of these events reflect our proud history of platforming topical, relevant and engaging debates on the key issues of the time.  

In more recent years, the society has started looking outwards, with the Outreach and Alumni programmes allowing both young and old to forge new relationships through debating. For more information about historical or recent notable speakers, explore the page below: 

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