BP/British Parliamentary

The most popular style of debate currently, where four teams compete on two sides, each team composed of two partners. Each team is ranked from first to fourth. Most of the following terms are used in BP.


The topic of the debate, written as a declarative such as ‘This House would x or supports y’ which the government team is obliged to defend, and opposition to oppose.

Spirit of the Motion

The underlying purpose of the debate, the real meaning, not the literal wording.

This House

Refers to the sum of everyone in the room – government, opposition and the judges are all ‘This House’ and therefore must determine what ‘This House’ should do about the motion.


The teams in support of the motion.


The teams in opposition to the motion.

(Gov/Opp) Bench

The ‘Bench’ refers to a side of the debate; for example the government bench is therefore the two government teams.


Abbreviations for the four different teams (listed in speaking order), Opening Government, Opening Opposition, Closing Government, Closing Opposition.

Front Half

The two teams that make up the first half of the debate, OG and OO.

Back Half

The two teams that make up the last half of the debate, CG and CO.

The Model/Modelling

The Prime Minister, the first speaker on government, has the unique job of providing the exact terms of the debate (such as who This House represents), and these definitions are called the model. Effective modelling is crucial to winning a debate on OG.


An alternative model provided by the Leader of Opposition, the first opposition speaker – this is a very rare tactic, and should be avoided unless absolutely necessary.

Grace Period

15 seconds after the 7 minute mark to finish up a speech.

Protected Time

The first and last minute of each speech is ‘protected’ from POIs, and is thus called protected time.

Point of Information/POI

A question or critique interrupting the current speech that does not exceed 15 seconds.

(Point of) Clarification

An honest question about the model, for the purpose of making the debate clearer.


Someone debating alone.


When an OG models the debate in a way that completely disregards the spirit and wording of the motion, this is called a squirrelling. Squirreling is the penultimate sin of BP debating, don’t ever do it.


In BP, teams on the same side are expected to be consistent with one another, and should one team contradict their other half, this contradiction is called a knife – knifing is the ultimate sin in BP debate, doing so always risks substantially diminishing your chances of winning the round.

Turf Burning

When a front half team covers all potential arguments, they can be said to have burned the turf.

Long Diagonal

Refers to the OG and CO teams (the teams diagonally opposed that speak are furthest in time from one another in the debate)

Short Diagonal

Refers to the OO and CG teams (the teams diagonally opposed that speak after one another)

Case Line

The overall worldview and line of argumentation of a team or bench.

Constructive Arguments

New contentions that argue the motion impacts reality in some way.


To refute the refutation made against one a constructive argument.


To disassemble an argument, and show that it is false, or at least, not as impactful.


Refers to engagement between speakers, primarily refutation and counter-refutation.


The effect of a claim on reality; i.e. Debating is good for your health (claim), if we pass the motion ‘everyone should debate,’ many people will live longer lives (impact).


Refers to the new constructive arguments being made by the Members of Government/Opposition.


Themes are the main ‘points’ of a whip speech – categories for all of the arguments and refutation of a given round.


Comparing the relative changes the government and opposition cases bring to the status quo.


The ‘burden’ of a side is something they must prove in order to win.


The process of determining the rankings of a round, who won.

Madam/Mister Speaker

The chair, the main judge.


The main judge, who usually holds tie-breaking power over rankings.


Secondary judges, who contribute to the ranking and may vote on rankings.

RFD (Reason for Decision)

After adjudication, the chair will provide an RFD to the debaters, explaining why each team placed as they did.

(Gov/Opp) Sweep

When the government or opposition bench take first and second place.

In-Rounds/Preliminary Rounds

The first several rounds, before elimination rounds, of a tournament.


The elimination rounds of a tournament.


The announcement of team positions and judges for a given round.

To Break

To reach the elimination rounds.


Top rooms in the last in-round.

Speaker Points/Speaks

The score assigned to individual speakers during a tournament.


The final ranking of speakers and teams in a tournament.

CP/Canadian Parliamentary

Another style of debate, featuring two teams instead of four, and the ability to bring your own motions as the government team.


Cases that are unfair or unwinnable by the opposition team are considered ‘tight.’