About Oxford Debates

Oxford Debates is a feature on the website that involves two leading Oxford academics debating a topic of public and academic interest. There will be one debate per term, which will take place over a five-week period. This will include a series of exchanges between the two speakers, a concluding summary by the moderator, a vote to determine the winning speaker and the publication of the result.

How it works
The debate is hosted by a moderator, who introduces the motion and the two speakers. The first speaker proposes the motion, the second opposes it. Each speaker has four opportunities to put forward their argument in the form of an opening statement, two updates, and a closing statement. This exchange takes place over a three-week period, during which the website audience has the opportunity to participate by posting comments to a message board. At the end of the debate, the moderator summarises both arguments and then opens the debate to a vote. The speaker who obtains the greatest number of votes wins the debate.

How to participate in the debate
To participate in the debate, click on ‘Post a comment’ at the bottom of the page, type your comments into the box, and click ‘Submit’. Please keep your comments brief and relevant to the debate. Comments will not be posted live but will be moderated before publication. They will normally appear on the website one working day after submission. Comments that have been edited will carry the message ‘this comment has been edited’.

How to vote
At the end of the debate, you may vote for which speaker you thought had argued most persuasively. To vote, click the ‘For’ or ‘Against’ button in the voting box at the bottom of the main screen. You will have a week in which to cast your vote. The result of the vote will be published at the end of this week. You are also invited to submit suggestions about topics you would like to see debated in the future.

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If you have an idea for a motion or would like to propose an academic to participate, please send your suggestion to oxweb@admin.ox.ac.uk