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Home > academics > Forensics > Leagues of Competition > National Parliamentary Debate Association


Worlds Universities Debate Format, also known as British Parliamentary Debate or British Parli, is considered the most prestigious form of collegiate debate throughout the world. PHC competes in British Parli as its primary form of debate amongst the powerhouses of Yale, Harvard, Cornell, Sydney, Oxford, Toronto, the London School of Economics, and more. Participants compete in teams of two and rely on general knowledge, understanding of current events, and quick wits to win rounds, since the topic of debate is only released fifteen minutes before each round and changes with each new set of opponents.

PHC’s strong academic environment supplies students with ready lines of argument and the wit to employ them with style and grace.

What differentiates British Parli from other forms of Parliamentary debate amongst colleges is the structure of the debate. Instead of a normal two-on-two round, British Parli features rounds with four two-person teams, two of which represent the government side in the debate, while the other two represent the opposition. Immediately following the round, the judging panel ranks the teams from first to last. Unlike policy debate, there is no prep time once in the round and no cross-examinations. Instead, speakers are allowed to stand and ask “points of information” during speeches.

British Parli presents unique opportunities for traveling abroad. Students have and will visit Toronto, Cambridge, Oxford, and Berlin internationally, as well as regional colleges in Rochester, Cape Cod, and Vermont. Recently, two freshmen, Ryan McDonald and Joseph Samelson, took home a victory in the novice finals at the Rochester tournament. This was the first of hopefully many victories for the PHC Debate squad.


Patrick Henry’s Debate Team Competes Internationally | October 20, 2012

PHC Debate Team Competes at Cambridge | December 14, 2011

Tradition and Fidelity: PHC joins British Parli | October 27, 2010

Small Virginia College Triumphs over Big Name Competitors | November 3, 2003