The Tawney Society is the School's most prestigious forum for the discussion of political and social affairs. The Society is named after Richard Henry Tawney (OR), the economic historian, educationalist and social commentator, who was a boy at Rugby between 1894 and 1899. The Society is open to all members of the school and invites outside speakers to give a talk on some contemporary issue; the speech is usually followed by questions from the floor and later by supper with the Head Master and a number of sixth formers.

The Temple Society is named after William Temple (OR), who, amongst other positions was a former Archbishop of Canterbury. The society is a voluntary Sixth Form society offering a wide range of guest speakers on an equally wide range of topics spanning philosophy, religion, science and the arts. Recent speakers have included the novelists Jill Paton Walsh and Michael Arditti, the psychoanalyst Adam Phillips and the Psychiatrist Raj Persaud, the Sikh broadcaster Indarjit Singh and the theologian Alister McGrath.

Temple Society: Mike Proudfoot lecturing on The Philosophy of Sport and The Rules of Life'

The Arnold (Classics) Society meets every term with speakers usually invited from top universities. Recent lectures have included: ‘Military Ethics: Ancient and Modern’, ‘Slavery in Ancient Literature and Art’, ‘Death in the Ancient World’ and ‘Sex and the City: 500BC’.  Dinner for pupils, staff and the speaker follows.  Potential Oxbridge Classicists (and others who wish) present their own research in a less formal environment and there are also informal reading groups.  Junior Arnold Society events include talks on ‘Gladiator: Myth of History’ and a ‘hands-on’ Roman armour and weapons session.

The Dodgson Society is one of the oldest societies in the school, named after Charles Dodgson (OR) - Lewis Caroll - a mathematician of some note. The society aims to invite a range of speakers to talk on topics such as Chinese Puzzles, Halley's comet and Fermat's Last Theorem. Recent speakers have included Sarah Flannery (Author of "In Code") and Tony Lewis (of Duckworth-Lewis fame).

George Seabroke (OR) was influential in setting up Rugby School Astronomy in the nineteenth century. He later founded the British Astronomical Association becoming its first president and was awarded a Fellowship of the Royal Astronomical Society. The Seabroke Society includes staff and pupils who help run the Temple Observatory, using the same telescope which Seabroke himself encouraged the school to buy. Pupils give their own talks and tours of the night sky to members of the public and pupils from local schools. Enthusiasts from other astronomy groups and academics from universities are also invited to give talks.

Bateson Society: Visiting speaker Professor Jack Cohen, author of 'What Does a Martian Look Like?' 

The Bateson Society is named in honour of Professor William Bateson (OR). Educated at Rugby School and at Cambridge, Bateson translated Gregor Mendel's paper, "Experiments with Plant Hybrids" and explained some of his observations. He was the first to name the new Science of inheritance "Genetics" and was appointed the first Professor of Genetics at Cambridge in 1908. The aim of the Bateson Society is to explore Biology as a discipline in its own right, not just as a stepping-stone to careers in Medicine and the Health Sciences.

Biology has grown in stature in recent years, moving from the descriptive art of naturalism to informing our understanding of our place within the ecosphere and thus impacting on industry, medicine, philosophy, religion and sociology. Through the Bateson Society students have an opportunity to address these developments and explore their applications and implications for society without any curriculum constraints.


  • Arnold Society

  • Black Lamp

  • Geography Society

  • Law Society

  • Medical Society

  • Snr & Jnr Debating Societies