Mace is one of the two most common debating formats used in the UK, along with British Parliamentary. It takes its name from the large ornamental silver club which rests on a table in the centre of the House of Commons. The Mace is the symbol of royal authority, and if it is not there the House of Commons cannot meet or pass laws. Given that debating is what the House of Commons does, it is an appropriate name for a debating format.

  • There are two speakers on each side.
  • It is long prep; speakers are usually given the motion several days in advance to prepare.
  • They speak for five minutes each, alternating between proposition and opposition.
  • The first and last minute in each speech is 'protected' (meaning no one is allowed to make points of information during that time).
  • Marks are awarded for both content of speeches and speaking style.

A variant on the basic Mace format is Extended Mace.

  • In Extended Mace, there are three speakers on each side.
  • The first two speakers on each side speak for five minutes, alternating between proposition and opposition, with the first and last minute protected (that is, points of information may only be made in the middle three minutes).
  • Points from the floor are then made by members of the audience. These should be similar to points of information, i.e. short (maximum 15 seconds) and addressed specifically to one speaker and one of their arguments.
  • Finally, summary speeches are given by the third speaker on each side, also five minutes with the first and last minute protected, with the opposition going first. Points of information may be made during summary speeches. Summary speakers should: respond to points from the floor; rebut the other side's arguments; sum up their side's arguments; identify the point of clash and show how their side has won. They should not introduce new arguments.

The timing of speeches may be altered depending on the confidence levels of the speakers. Beginning or younger debaters may find it easier to give three minute speeches, with the first and last thirty seconds protected, whereas more experienced or older debaters may wish to extend the speech time as far as seven minutes. Speech length can also be reduced for practical reasons, e.g. to fit in with the timing of a lesson or lunchtime club.

Mace is a good format for beginning debaters, as the long prep and the more structured, less free flowing format than British Parliamentary can help them to feel more confident. It is also a good format to use in a school debating club and / or lessons, as it allows the audience to get more involved.

The major Mace competition in the UK is the Schools' Mace competition run by the English Speaking Union. It is the oldest and largest schools' debating competition, regularly attracting over 300 schools.