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Policy Debate

Policy Debate

A Guide for High School and College Debaters

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Shawn F. Briscoe


Paperback (Other formats: E-book)
232 pages, 6 x 9, 19 illustrations


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About the Book

In Policy Debate: A Guide for High School and College Debaters, Shawn F. Briscoe introduces educators, coaches, and students at the high school and college levels to the concepts at the foundation of policy debate, also known as cross-examination debate, and uses conceptual analysis and real-world examples to help students engage in competitive debates and deploy winning strategies.

Briscoe addresses all aspects of policy debate, including stock issues, judging paradigms and effective engagement with judges, the responsibilities of both affirmative and negative teams, and the evaluation of policy proposals through the use of disadvantages, counterplans, and critical argumentation. In addition, Briscoe helps debaters better establish their credibility, improve their cross-examination skills, and understand the specialized notetaking method called flowing. The book models for readers how to effectively cross-examine an opposing team, features a transcript of a mock debate designed to help clarify the lessons taught in previous chapters, and includes a glossary of key terms. Briscoe also considers contemporary trends in the debate community, exploring the evolution of policy debate and the rise of performance-based approaches, while providing insight into how best to engage with performance teams.

Offering a unique approach presented by a seasoned debate coach, Policy Debate: A Guide for High School and College Debaters goes beyond the basics to explore how policy is an ever-evolving form of debate. This attention to the progression of policy styles will make readers better at adapting to opponents during a debate and will make them more adept at arguing against a wider range of cases.


Shawn F. Briscoe, the program director for the St. Louis Urban Debate League, has a quarter century of experience with policy debate. He has won multiple awards for his coaching and is a member of the National Speech and Debate Association, the American Forensic Association, the National Debate Coaches Association, and Phi Delta Kappa International.


“Briscoe’s wealth of knowledge about and experience with policy debate is well represented in Policy Debate. Students, and even coaches, often must attend summer camps at great expense or spend years working concertedly to gather the information clearly conveyed here.”—Derek Buescher, University of Puget Sound
 “There is a significant need for an updated textbook that guides beginning students on the nuances of policy debate; many of the existing resources appear to be written by individuals who have not watched a competitive high school policy round in years. Briscoe’s Policy Debate fulfills the need for a current, detailed textbook by preparing students for a variety of competitive settings.”—Tara Tate, former president, National Debate Coaches Association