Study Public Speaking & Debate with our Oxford Summer School 2018 | Students aged 13-15

Also available for students aged 16-18.

Class Summary

In this Public Speaking and Debate course for teens, students learn how to compose a speech on a particular topic, compose a strong argument, and respond composedly to different speakers. Under expert guidance, students discover more about the intricacies of debate, from selecting a topic to generating and allocating arguments, the roles of different speakers, and using stylistic techniques to achieve maximum effect. They test their new skills by preparing speeches on their favourite topics and participating in debates with fellow members of the class.

Throughout this two-week course, students are provided with ample opportunity to familiarise themselves with diverse public speaking scenarios – from individual speeches to team debates – as well as the most effective and appropriate presentation techniques. By analysing famous speeches from the past, students learn to appreciate excellent oratory, and recognise the skills and techniques that they can use when constructing their own speeches. The course aims to increase students’ enthusiasm for public speaking and debate, and encourages them to share this with their peers. By the end of the course, students will be on easy terms with the ‘three Ms’ of public speaking: manner, method, and matter.

The course provides an introduction to the theory of public speaking, including how to structure a speech and how to provide and link arguments when appropriate. The students are introduced to foundational rhetorical techniques such as repetition and alliteration. Time spent listening to and discussing world-renowned speeches furthers this process, while also acting as an inspiring exercise for many of the students. The practical element of this part of the course includes a variety of practical speaking exercises, notably a speech giving competition.

The debating component of the course teaches the students debating through simple practical small team debates.  After this start, the theory of debating is introduced at a basic level.  Students learn about choosing a topic, generating and allocating arguments, the roles of different speakers, and stylistic matters.  The final debates seek to encourage the coalescence of all these theoretical elements.


The diversity of the ORA student body is a real advantage in Public Speaking and Debate, as it provides a variety of viewpoints and experiences that students might otherwise not have encountered, thereby making debates livelier and more interesting. However, as students work alongside peers from across the globe, from varied cultures and backgrounds, it is important for them to keep the tone of the debate considerate. This is a valuable skill for life in our globalised and multicultural world, which is honed on this course. Students are often called upon to debate difficult and controversial social and political topics, and therefore must be prepared to treat their peers with the utmost respect.


Please do not worry if you have never done any public speaking or debating before; this is not a problem as our course gives you everything you need to know.