Debating With Trivium

Debating with Trivium

There may be a million ways you get confronted with debates. Be it on TV, in university courses or at the dinner table. With Trivium you get a chance to experience debating as a sport! Where in most cases debating serves some other purpose, like a politician trying to acquire votes, the purpose of debating as a sport is convincing a jury.

So how does it work?

Debating is done in a team of two, or with specific formats a team of 3. When you start a debate, you are given a motion and will be appointed a side to defend. Once you are given the motion, you and your team partner have 15 minutes to prepare your argument that you will defend within a 5-minute speech (7-minutes in some tournaments). Within Trivium we generally use two formats: American Parliamentary and British Parliamentary. Sometimes a third format is used: World Schoolies/ Asian Parliamentary format.

Is debating useful?

Debating in this manner is of certainly a fun hobby, but can also be very useful. Since the crowd you are speaking to is limited a to very small group, the other debatingteams and the jury, debating is a comfortable way to learn public speaking. Besides that it teaches you to form more nuanced opinions, as you will often defend motions you may not necessarily agree with. This way you can acquire a strong vision into what arguments can be used and be considered valid within issues present in the world around us, be it in the news or at the dinner table. Like this there are many more things to learn like listening, analyzing, structuring arguments etc. that you can learn from debating. There are more than enough reasons to debate!

American parliamentary (AP) debates:

An AP debate has two teams (each existing of two teammembers) competing to convince the jury of their case. On one side there is the proposition, who are in favor of the motion. The other side is the opposition: they are against the motion. Within Trivium each speaker generally has 5 minutes to bring his/her arguments. Within the speeches the first and last minutes are “protected time”, meaning that no-one is allowed to request a “Point of Information”(POI). However in the time in between the protected time POIs are allowed. The speaker is in no way obligated to allow his/her opponents a POI, but it is generally considered decent to allow one during his/her speech. Finally the first speakers of the opposition and proposition give a summary speech of 3 minutes.

British Parliamentary (BP) debates:

Considering the speeches, the rules of BP are exactly the same as the rules of AP: 5-minute speeches with the first and last minute as protected time. In BP however, there are 4 teams of 2 speakers each competing. The first half of the debate works very similar to AP debates, without the summary speeches. After the second opposition speech however, the debate continues to a second half. Now each second team on each side has to defend what the first half of the debate stated, but they also need to distinguish themselves as the team that has contributed the most in the debate. Because of this 4 team dynamic BP format is strategically different.

World Schools Debating Championship (WSDC) /Australs/Asian parliamentary format

Sometimes Trivium debates in a third format, WSDC or Asian Parliamentary. This format is unique in the fact that it is has 2 teams of 3 people. This makes this format somewhere in between BP and AP formats in both total speaking time and amount of content relevant in the debate. Just like other formats Trivium speaks with speeches of 5 minutes with protected time. The speaking order is very much the same as with AP, with the difference that after the second round of speeches, another round takes place. This allows the second speeches in WSDC format to bring more content as there is an extra round of speeches to respond. Finally after three round of speeches have taken place, either the first or second speaker of each team summarizes the debate in 3 minutes.


As any debating society, Trivium debates about a wide variety of subjects, like politics, law, science, philosophical debates, economy etc. Within the debating world each motion (in English) begins with THW (this house would), THBT (This house believes that) or TH (This house), as x, does y. These indicate whether the motion requires you to defend a policy (THW) defend why something should or shouldn’t be the case (THBT) or why something has to be done reasoning from the position of a certain actor (TH, as x, does y). For example, when the motion says THBT one does not have to defend that something is possible, but only that it would be good if it happened. In cases where extra information may be require to know, the so called infoslides provide this.
Some examples of motions one could see during English Trivium debates:
TH, as the US, would abolish the electoral college
THBT EU citizens should identify themselves more as European citizens
THW support having children at a young age
THW make users of self-driving cars responsible for actions of these cars.
THW fine news organizations not adhering to standards of balanced and factual news reporting.