About BP Debate
Despite the name, there’s nothing especially British about British Parliamentary debate, though its origins can be traced to the British university system. The defining characteristics of the style are as follows:
- 15 minutes prior to each round a “motion” is announced. Motions are drawn from a wide range of topic areas, including domestic and foreign policy, philosophy, political theory, and so on. Debaters have no idea what the motion will be until it is announced.
- Four teams compete in each round, two on each side. Each team in the round has a dual burden: to rebut any arguments made by the two teams on the other side of the motion, and to do a better job of defending (or opposing) the motion than the other team on its own side.
- Each of the four teams in a BP-style debate round comprises two members, each of whom gives one speech, usually with an upper time limit of seven minutes.
- After all eight speakers have made their case, the debaters leave the room and the judges deliberate until they agree on a ranking of the teams from 1 (best) to 4 (worst). If no agreement can be reached, a majority vote is held after the time allotted for adjudication has elapsed.
- Judges (ideally) rely primarily on considerations of persuasiveness in reaching their decision, though style, resolutionality, and a few other factors are also sometimes considered.
British Parliamentary debate is the style of debate used at the World Universities Debating Championships (WUDC), which are held annually in a different country just after New Year’s Day. The WUDC maintains a complete and up-to-date set of rules for BP debate here.
About the USUDA
The United States Universities Debate Association, or USUDA for short, is a loose federation of universities interested in promoting debate in the British Parliamentary (BP) style in the United States. To this end, the USUDA does a few things:
- Governs the bid selection process for a national championship (the USUDC) in the BP style each April.
- Shares BP-related educational materials.
- Maintains this website.
Any school interested in BP debate may join the USUDA, no strings attached or dues required. For the details, check out our membership page.
About the USUDC
The United States Universities Debating Championship, or USUDC, is a debate tournament that has been held annually in April since 2005. Each year, the victors of the tournament are crowned American National Champions in collegiate debate. The tournament is open to all American institutions of higher education, including USUDA nonmembers.