The British Parliamentary (BP) Format

The BP Format

The British Parliamentary (BP) format is a challenging debating format followed for university debating across the world, specifically in the World Universities Debating Championships. For the first time, in 2017, ISDS sponsored a team of two members to participate at the International Competition for Young Debaters (ICYD) which follows the BP debating format. ICYD is also the largest international competitive debating tournament for junior debaters aged 15 and under.


The BP Debating Format

The British Parliamentary (BP) format involves 4 teams in every debate room. Every team has two members and while two of the teams argue for the motion (topic), two argue against it. The beauty of the format is that every team, while having to defeat two teams arguing the other side, must also establish itself as the most relevant in the debate, to defeat the team arguing the same side, without contradicting them. Motions are announced for preparation 15 minutes in advance, and teams are not allowed any electronic resources, printed material, or guidance from their coaches – they prepare with only each other to rely on.

Topics for Speeches

Speeches are traditionally 7 minutes long, with speeches at ICYD being 5 minutes. Some motions debated by the students included “This House supports hacking as a form of social protest” and “This house would prefer a world without religious beliefs”. The announcement of such nuanced topics operates under the notion that even young children can be empowered to speak about them with the provision of adequate information and encouragement. Every debate is judged by a panel of eminent debaters.

ISDS has consistently provided intense coaching in debate to hundreds of students, with the ultimate aim of inspiring organized thought and speech in the minds of children between the ages of 13 and 18.

More on BP Debating and the Cambridge Union

ISDS has represented India in several international debating competitions, including the World Schools Debating Championship, since its inception in 2008.