The Exeter Debating Society was founded in 1893 and has since grown to be one of the biggest and most prestigious societies on campus. We run two main events every week: Monday workshops and Friday events. Monday workshops are catered to all levels of debating and give you a chance to refine your public speaking skills. Friday debates offer an opportunity for our members to see experienced, external speakers battle it out!

Our History

The Exeter University Debating Society was formed in 1893 as a purely gentleman's debating society.

The First World War proved difficult for the society with many of its members leaving to fight. A number of debates were still held however. These included 'Conscription is necessary for our Empire' (1915) and 'There should be no co-education of the sexes' (1916) in which one speaker famously remarked "that flirty girls give a man as much experience in an hour as he would gain in twelve months by watching girls a few yards off".

The earliest recorded Friday night 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 stated the debate was held with 'eloquence, energy and enthusiasm'.

The Debating Society week generally consists of two events a week. A Monday workshop is held for those who wish to practice their debating skills and prepare for competition. Every Friday evening at 7:00pm the society invites an external panel of four speakers to debate a motion. Friday night debates continue to be held in the mooting room of the Amory building which regularly attracts a full house of over 250 members of the audience. Recent speakers have included Members of Parliament Ben Bradshaw, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Nick De-Bois and Steve Gilbert, members of the European Parliament Graham Watson and Keith Taylor, journalists Peter Hitchens and Brendan O'Neill, anti war campaigner Lindsay German and Apprentice star Katie Hopkins.

Notable Speakers

Natalie Bennett

Baroness Bennett led the Green party for four years, coming to national prominence with her effective campaign affording the Green Party their highest vote share in its history 

Stephen Fry

 

A national treasure. Stephen Fry is one of the last few public intellectuals; demonstrating excellence in everything from comedy, classical literature, and theology

Katie Hopkins

Proud to boast of herself as the 'most hated woman in Britain', Katie Hopkins is an English media personality with a 'no nonsense' approach which has won her many fans and an extensive controversies section on her Wikipedia page.

Jacob Rees-Mogg

The leader of the House of Commons and former Chairman of the European Research Group. Jacob Rees-Mogg was one of the loudest voices in favor of the UK's withdrawal from the European Union

Herbert Asquith

Prime Minister between 1908-1916. Herbert Asquithwas the last prime minister to lead a majority Liberal government, and he played a central role in the design and passage of major liberal legislation and a reduction of the power of the House of Lords 

Anthony Eden

Prime Minster between 1955-1957. Anthony Eden was one of the key critics alongside Winston Churchill in opposing Britain's appeasement policy in the 1930s. Unfortunately, his premiership resided over the Suez Crisis which is seen as the death knell of Britain's influence as a superpower

Michael Foot 

Leader of the Labour party between 1980-1983. Michael Foot was one of the most eloquent orators of the 20th century. He resigned from the party when his passionate anti-nuclearism and left-wing principles failed to resonate with the electorate in the 1983 election

Mohammed Amin

The former Chairman of the Conservative Muslim Forum and a passionate defender of freedom of speech. Mohammed Amin dramatically left the part in protest of Boris Johnson's leadership

Peter Hitchens

Winner of the Orwell prize in 2010. Peter Hitchens in his former years was actively involved in the Trotskyist movement, before finding God and shifting to the right. He is also a  columnist in the Mail on Sunday and appears on national television regularly  

Jane Fae

A Guardian columnist and regular on BBC and Sky programming. Jane Fae is on of the leading national voices on feminist and transgender perspectives

Diane Atkinson  

One of the leading historians on the women's suffrage movement. Diane Atkinson's work has been lauded by MPs and general audiences alike with an approachable style that is accessible for readers

Karina Currie

A famous pornographic actress, Karina Currie is outspoken and open about the nature of her work and how it should been seen as being as legitimate as any other profession

Past and Current Committees

2020/21
2017/2018
Coming