Back to advice

Clubs and societies at your students' union

Friday 20 June 2008 Volunteering Advice

Clubs and societies are a key part of the university experience. Joining them is a great way to meet people, develop an existing skill or try something new.

Societies often organise free social events to give you a taste of what they’re about, or may post information on social networking sites like Facebook.

The number of societies can be overwhelming. There are clubs for every competitive activity from rugby to tiddlywinks. Music, theatre and other creative arts are also widely catered for.

Groups exist for the discussion of religious belief, lack of belief, and other philosophies. If you’re an activist by nature, you can get involved in politics, campaigning, and of course, your students’ union. 

Something for everyone

However esoteric your interests, there’ll be something to suit. Live action pole-play (LARP), for example, is about playing a character in a fantasy system.

As Manchester University’s LARP Society says, “If dressing up and fighting people with foam weapons sounds like fun then come and give it a go!”

Alternatively food lovers at Warwick University can enjoy the benefits of the Cheese and Chocolate Society, which organises a regular visit to Cadbury World. 

Andrew Greer at Leeds University Students’ Union says, “Some of our most unusual societies have proved to be amongst our most successful like the Cheese Society, Wine Society and Real Ale Society, who have really imaginative collaborative and individual events with high memberships.” 

Becoming a member

Once you’ve signed up to a society, you’ll probably have to pay a membership fee. Sports clubs tend to charge more, as the fees cover the costs of equipment and insurance. Membership typically lasts for a year. 

A university society is run by a committee made up of students elected to positions of responsibility. Usually there’ll be at least a president, secretary and treasurer.

Skills for employment

Taking on a position of responsibility equips you with transferable skills that can make you more attractive to prospective employers, which motivates many students to get involved.

However, don’t feel you have to join societies purely to improve your CV. The most fulfilling way to develop new skills is through an activity you’re enthusiastic about. 

Finally, with so much on offer, it’s tempting to join everything. Taking on too much can leave you stressed and unable to meet your academic deadlines, so focus on a manageable number of societies, and remember you can always try something new next year…