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Official Competition Rules


  • Teams from anywhere in Canada or the United States will be eligible.

  • All team members must be in high school.

  • Teams may be affiliated with a school, an academy, or may have no affiliation at all.

  • Only teams affiliated with schools will be eligible for the International Ethics Olympiad.


  • Remember, this is not a debate. Teams can agree with each others position.

  • Teams should consist of not more than 5 members and no less than three members.

  • At the start of each heat, fresh scrap paper will be needed for team members to make notes during the match, but pre-prepared notes and any other materials are prohibited.

  • Please make sure your ‘microphone’ is turned off unless your team is invited to speak by the moderator/judge during your assigned times.

  • During private conferences (the 2-minute conference or one-minute conference), students should ideally be located in one room, in which case they can turn their microphone off. If team members are located in multiple locations due to a covid lockdown they will need to organise a separate online forum for team meetings. If they are using this facility they must not be speaking on that forum at any time apart from the allotted team conference times.

  • The moderator/judge will keep the official time of each period of the match. Teams may use their own timers with the following restrictions and conditions: the timer cannot be any device that stores data or connects to the internet and a team may not time the portions of the match when the other team speaks or confers.

  • Students do not have to be familiar with Ethical theories in order to participate in the event. However, they are encouraged to explore alternate positions to the position they take.

  • We urge teams to provide an outline of their presentation when it begins—that is, the team should explain who will be discussing which aspect(s) of the case and why. This way, a moderator/judge will know what kind of presentation to expect.

  • Students are encouraged to read the cases carefully beforehand and the linked resources to understand the full breadth of the cases, determine their positions, and make the strongest possible presentation. Although teams may use outside research to prepare for a match, they should not assume that merely presenting factual information will impress the judges. Teams need to propose valid, sound, persuasive arguments that are buttressed by facts to score well. If a team introduces a specific fact not contained in the case, the team should cite the source (e.g. “according to a 2011 article in National Geographic…”).



  • Should direct their questions to teams based on the discussion, not to individuals.

  • The moderator/judge can allow a team to finish a sentence once time has expired.

  • A timer will be used which everyone can see. But if for some reason that is not working teams will get two standardized time notifications from the moderator/judge during their presentations: one three minute warning and one when one-minute warning.

  • The moderator/judge controls the room during matches and should address any unacceptable behaviour including, but not limited to: Coaches, parents, or audience members communicating—verbally or non-verbally.

  • If there are outside distractions, noise interference,  it is up to the moderator/judge, not a coach or a parent, to decide if the round should be paused.

  • Teams must answer the case question during their presentation period. Teams are judged and scored on how well their members clearly and systematically address and respond to the question asked.

  • Teams will not be penalized or rewarded whether one person speaks or everyone in the team contributes. Judges should neither penalize nor reward a team for using either approach: both are welcome.

  • When one team confers or speaks, the other team and any audience members must remain silent although writing and passing notes is permitted. (For example, when Team A is given the case and question, they are allowed to confer for two minutes and then present for five minutes. During those five minutes, Team B is permitted to write notes but must remain silent.

  • The decisions of the moderator/judges is final and the heats will be totalled at the end of the day and the results publicised within 24 hours. Where there is a tie the Head judge will select the winner from the following process. The highest scores in the first heat….if that is still a draw the highest score in the second heat and so on.

  • If there is a complaint or challenge to the results this should be put in writing to the organisers.

  • The results will be emailed to supervising teachers and moderator / judges. 

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