Top universities for odd societies

Group of people playing Quidditch
Dare to be different? There are university societies to cater for your heart’s oddest desires.

Steam punkers, assassins, cakefaeries and fans of caramel wafers unite. No stone is unturned, no hiding place is secure. If you’re going to university your very strange soul will be revealed. But celebrate: there will be fellow strange souls to join you and befriend you.

University of Sheffield – Assassins’ Guild

Fancy dressing up as an InterCity diesel locomotive and crashing into a hapless fellow student? You are an assassin with a target to kill within two weeks; you are also in the sites of a rival assassin.

Death-by-simulating-an-express train is only one means of dispatching your opponent if you’re a member of the Assassins’ Guild. The entry-level weapon of choice for most society newcomers is a cardboard sword or a gun firing foam pellets.

There are also strong assassins’ societies at Durham, Cambridge, Birmingham, Plymouth, Leeds, Warwick, Huddersfield, Lancaster, Oxford and Suffolk.

University of Cambridge – Sheila and her dog/Gog Magog Molly/CakeFaeries

Sheila and her dog society: when the team leader drops the stuffed penguin on the floor, mentally regress to six years old, drink cocoa, eat cake in secret tree houses, read stories in innocuous and silly voices, fly kites after dark, and do not talk like horrid grown-ups or let the beastly assassins infiltrate the group.

Gog Magog Molly society: like the offspring of a Morris dance and an old acid house rave, Molly dancing is a primitive knees-up from the ancient fens of East Anglia. According to the society, ‘Many people say that the last of the Molly dancers are less than completely mentally secure’.

The CakeFaeries are lovely people, handing out morale-boosting scones and sponges to freshers and students taking exams. They also run Soc-Parenting, which buddies older students with newcomers.

University of Warwick – Jailbreak Society

Get out of jail free.

Society members have to break out of campus and get as far away as possible in 36 hours using their wits and no money. Intrepid members have made it to Morocco and Manhattan in past years.

The society also organises a reverse jailbreak – a charity hitchhike in which cashless students are dropped off at a mystery location and then have 36 hours to return to base.

Many other universities run jailbreak events as part of freshers' week or rag week or as events run by other societies. These have included Bristol, Exeter, Glasgow, City and UCL.

Newcastle University – Twenty Minutes Society

There’s nothing more energising than a random event. That’s the logic behind Newcastle’s Twenty Minutes Society, whose members receive a fortnightly text about the location of a mystery event. You may end up on the stands of a greyhound race, sandwich in hand, ticket in the pocket, cheering your 6/1 favourite. You may be asked to buy a white T shirt and go graffiti painting, or watch stand-up comedy. Twenty Minutes also organises an annual secret jaunt abroad where students won’t know their holiday destination until they turn up at the airport.

Plymouth University – Robot Football Society

Yes, the beautiful game is played by thigh-high, bowler-hatted robots by members of this Plymouth society. Each mechanical competitor has up to 20 mini-motors whirring to pass, block, shoot and dribble the ball.

The students literally build the mechanical team, which is a member of FIRA (Federation of International Robot-soccer Association). The players have been the shining lights of the RoboCup Humanoid League and International RoboWorld Cup.

University of St Andrews – Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer Appreciation Society

‘Ooh,’ you may say, ‘I fancy a chocolatey nibble and I want it among friends.’ Wish granted if you join the Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer Appreciation Society at Scotland’s oldest university.

The society meets for weekly conversation and the chomping of Scotland’s celebrated snack. It’s evangelical about those wafer and caramel biscuits – each beautifully covered in chocolate-flavoured coating sprinkled with roasted coconut. It maintains a tradition and its motto is ‘All things vintage! Biscuits and banter since 1981’.

University of Southampton – Krakensoc

Gun-metal coloured, spray-painted top hats garlanded with welders’ goggles are the thing to wear for members of the University of Southampton’s steampunk-loving Krakensoc. It all makes sense: steampunk is genre of fiction which mixes sci-fi and steam-era technology.

When Krakensoc’s members aren’t dressing up and attending steampunk fairs, they can be found down the pub pouring over visuals of Charles Babbage’s mechanical computing devices or watching films such as The City of Lost Children.

Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) – The Nerds

This society goes the extra mile for life’s specialists, where you can be a nerd among nerds and truly belong. Here’s what it says:

‘The Nerds Society is a nerd-friendly social society for people who want to hang out with some of the greatest people you will ever meet. We meet up and hang out at least twice a week to chat about nerdy nonsense, do nerdy things or have a good drinking session.’

Nerds rule OK… and the geeks will inherit the Earth.

Odds and socs

Should also be included on any list of quirky student societies…

Disney Societies – Exeter, Plymouth, Lincoln, Loughborough, Bournemouth, Derby, Bedfordshire and many other universities.

Harry Potter/Quidditch societies – like Disney, an enormously popular choice of alternative society at many universities including Aston, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Cardiff and UCL, to name but a few.

Mario Kart Society – University of Essex.

Oddsoc – University of Sussex (a bit like MMU’s The Nerds).

Viking Society – University of Plymouth. Partake of salted fish or mead, re-enact battles and snuggle around the camp fire telling myths.

Stitch n bitch – University of Leeds. Slip one purlwise, pass first slipped stitch over second, repeat from one and gossip…

KettleSoc – University of Nottingham. That’s quite enough odd societies; time for a brew!

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