War of Words (WoW) is a unique co-curricular programme offered to all students at the School of Law, University of Hertfordshire.

WoW places individual student candidates in front of a live audience of student judges to argue a one minute defence of a controversial topic, such as ‘whether the UK should abolish its monarchy’. The student volunteers for the position by commenting on ‘I volunteer’ on a blogpost which advertises a number of positions per session, and the position and student is paired-up at random (see examples on the ‘UHWoW’ blog at: The candidate will then have a few days to prepare their argument.

On the day of WoW, the candidate presents their one minute defence from the front of the courtroom/classroom, in complete silence from the audience, and is then subjected to questions from the audience, who have prepared impromptu responses while the speaker is presenting, designed to throw the candidate off-balance and test the student’s preparation and resolve.

After around 10 minutes of questioning from the audience, the Chairperson (normally Dr Daniel Berger, who developed the programme) calls a halt to proceedings and asks the audience for feedback on the candidate’s performance on the following grading criteria; (i) content; (ii) presentation; (iii) popularity.

The judge’s decision is based on (a) his/her own assessment of the candidate; (b) the feedback on the first two grading criteria; and (c) on the public vote outcome – (a)-(c) are weighted equally.

At BILETA 2016, on the first conference day, we will organise a delegates WoW session on topics related to BILETA’s research areas.

The delegates have been asked to volunteer for the positions advertised on the conference website in advance. These are as follows:

  1. That government surveillance reduces terrorism
  2. That individuals do not ‘own’ their internet identity
  3. That online piracy is killing the music industry
  4. That there is no such thing as ‘teaching excellence’
  5. That China is correct in banning Western social media platforms


If you would like to defend any of these positions, please simply state ‘I volunteer’ – providing your full name – using the comments box on the blog: