The University of St. Andrews Union Debating Society can trace its origins to the formation of a literary society in 1794. Literary Societies were formed during the Enlightenment which was sweeping Europe in the 18th century. In 1890 the Literary Society merged with the Classical Society to form the Union Debating Society. The continuous operation of a student led society of letters means that the University of St. Andrews Union Debating Society is the oldest of its kind anywhere in the world.
The 20th century saw the Union Debating Society grow into the most popular student society in St. Andrews and has since been at the forefront of St. Andrews life. The society has produced scores of leading figures in public life here in the United Kingdom and across the globe.
Despite its age and venerable standing, the Union Debating Society prides itself on allowing students to voice their opinions freely and to listen to debates without any financial stipulation. Therefore, all matriculated students at the University of St. Andrews are automatically made a member of the society and can attend public debates free of charge.
Our competitive debating wing continues to grow in it’s successes. Teams from St. Andrews compete across the United Kingdom and the world. In addition, our training programme in St. Andrews allows students to hone their public speaking and debating skills,
beginner or otherwise.
Public debates remain the bedrock of the society, allowing all students to attend debates in order to listen to the arguments of the day, and if they choose to do so – engage with them. Public Debates are held in the historic Lower Parliament Hall every Thursday at 8.00pm.