What are societies?

October 1st, 2022

Anne Blombach

Whether you’re a prospective student, an applicant or already enrolled at your dream university, you might have heard of societies. Apart from sports clubs, societies are the perfect way to continue existing hobbies, discover new ones and, maybe most importantly, to meet people and make friends.

While sports teams such as football, rugby or volleyball are quite straightforward and exist at almost every UK university, potential society choices are almost endless. Each university has a wide range of societies on offer. Some exist to help you or others such as course specific societies (i.e., Accounting or Law) or ones with charitable or political causes (i.e., Feminism, mental health, or LGBTQ+).

Others were created to provide an opportunity for people to meet like-minded peers, may that be because they are from a specific country, all speak the same language or have the same hobby.

How do societies work?

At most universities, societies are part of the Students’ Union but entirely run by students themselves. To start a new society, you normally must have a certain number of people that want to join and then get approval from the Students’ Union. From then on, you are in charge of everything. The union might support you if you need any help, but the founding members are making the decisions.

These founding members are usually called the committee and depending on the kind of society, the committee has different roles that may include president, vice president, events officer, social media manager, treasurer and more.

How do you join a society?

In most cases, you can simply sign up through the Students’ Union website. A lot of societies are free to join and have unlimited membership numbers. Sometimes, you can even simply join by following them on social media. Some societies might have a small membership fee, usually around £1-5, which you usually have to pay once per year. Societies who charge this might organise more elaborate events, which then are free to attend for members, or be able to purchase equipment or software to use for the members.

Why should you join a society?

In your course or in your student accommodation, you will no doubt meet people that are in the same situation as you: Away from home (possibly for the first time), in a new environment, not knowing anyone. However, you might find it difficult to find similarities between yourself and your randomly selected flatmates or might want to talk about something else than your course subject with someone. That is where societies (and sports teams) come in.

Whether you love video games, chess, or art, want to fight for a greater cause such as climate change or BLM, or simply find people speaking your language (literally and figuratively), your new university most likely has a society for you. Additionally, having people that you bond with over a shared interest can provide a great outlet for any stress induced by assignments and deadlines.