DEBATE FORMATS AND RULES

Karl Popper Debate
The Karl-Popper format focuses on relevant and often deeply divisive propositions, emphasizing the development of critical thinking skills and tolerance for differing viewpoints. Debaters work together in teams of three and must research both sides of each issue. Each team is given the opportunity to offer arguments and direct questions to the opposing team. Judges then offer constructive feedback, commenting on logical flaws, insufficient evidence or arguments that debaters may have overlooked.
Team consists of three speakers, but each team makes its presentation for 4 times, it means that one speaker should have a floor twice.

Each speech lasts for 7 minutes, except the summary one, which is only 4-minute-long.

This format was developed for use in secondary school programs and competitions.  It is popular in Central and Eastern Europe and in Russia. In Africa it is becoming increasingly popular in Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Liberia and Nigeria.

The distinguishing features of the format are: cross-examination, when three of the six debaters ask their opponents questions; and preparation time, when debaters can prepare before their speeches. This format emphasizes team work and is a good format for beginner debaters, because each speaker in this debate speaks once only and members of the team need to communicate with each other during the designated preparation time.

Parliamentary Debate
Many formats of debate are described as 'parliamentary'. This is really a catch-all term which simply means that they are loosely modeled on the practices of the British parliamentary system and other parliaments around the world that adopted those practices. In practice it means that the motion for debate is treated in much the same way as a legislative Bill placed before the UK House of Commons. The motion always stands in the name of the Government (also called 'the Proposition') and it is the job of the Opposition to demonstrate that the motion is either impractical or immoral.

The distinguishing factor of parliamentary formats, of which there are many, is the use of Points of Information (PoI). These points allow debaters to interrupts a speaker to ask a question or offer information which favors their side of the debate. Both Proposition and Opposition speakers can offer PoIs, but only to the other side. It is not compulsory to accept a PoI, but in competitive debate speakers are penalized if they fail to take any. Usually the first and last sections of a speech are 'protected time' during which PoIs may not be offered.

In many parliamentary formats the terminology of the House of Commons has also been adopted with the first proposition speaker being referred to as the Prime Minister and the first opposition speaker being known as the Leader of the Opposition. The chair or presiding adjudicator is usually referred to as Mister or Madam Speaker and all remarks are addressed to them not the other debaters.

British Parliamentary (BP)
This is the name of the format used for the World Universities Debating Championship and has, as a result, become the default format for many university societies, especially in the English speaking world. It is probably the most commonly used format in the World. In much the same way as many university societies debate in their native language as well as English, so they tend to use a regional or local format and also BP.

Debates comprise eight speakers: four speaking in favor of a motion and four against. Each side is made up of two teams of two individuals. They debate a motion (the idea to be discussed) which is usually framed with the wordingThis House Believes... or This House Would.... For example if the motion isThis House Would Support Assisted Suicide, it is the role of the Proposition (or 'Government') speakers to explain why assisted suicide is a good idea and the opposition should demonstrate that it is not. As a form of parliamentary debate, in BP the government should propose a course of action and support it with philosophical, practical and consequential arguments. The burden of proof is on the government, but the opposition must also demonstrate the strength of their arguments.

 

Typically in BP, a motion is announced 15 minutes before the debate starts. Speeches are seven minutes in length, with the first and last minute protected (Points of Information cannot be offered in 'protected' time). The first proposition speaker is required to present a definition of the motion that places an idea in a real-world setting. Once a motion has been defined, all speakers are required to address the definition, not some other variant that might be easier for them.

 

 

The General Structure of the Debate Model

 

 

 

1st Proposition     1st Opposition

 

2nd Proposition   

                       2nd Opposition

3rd Proposition 

                       3rd Opposition

                                    4th Summary 

 

4th Summary