Writing a Council Paper

This page outlines the standard format of a Council Paper and some tips when writing it. If you would like any help you can contact:

You can find out more information about Council, it’s role and how meetings run on the Union Training Hub.

What is a Council Paper/ Motion?

A motion is a document that proposes a change to the Union’s Policies. This can be changes to a current policy or a whole new policy. Any student at Imperial is able submit a motion to Council in the form of a paper. The author of a paper is usually the proposer and a supporter of the paper is known as a seconder. All papers require a proposer and at least seconder. A seconder must also be a full member of the Union. An item for discussion with no decisions, does not need a seconder.

What subjects can be submitted?

Papers can be submitted on a range of topics from the decisions of the College and Union to international concerns. If you are passionate about it, and think other students are too then consider submitting a paper.

Previous topics the have been discussed Green Roof, Fossil Fuels, Counter Terrorism, Islamophobia and Tuition Fees.

Who can I discuss the motion with?

You can ask on the Council Chair, Democracy Coordinator or Officer Trustees to help you, by sending any one of them an email.

When writing, here are a couple of things to ask yourself

  • Have I consulted with people that are impacted or will be impacted by this paper? These groups will have invaluable insights into the topic of your paper and may have a completely different point of view.
  • Is the issue relevant to students? The Union is here to represent students so the issue should be relevant to them!
  • Has this issue(s) already been addressed at Union Council? If so, consider talking to the author of any previous papers, or the Officer Trustees about this issue
  • Does the paper have a clear goal and message? Members of Union Council may not know much about the topic you’re writing about. It’s a good idea to keep your paper simple and link them to any websites or documents you use
  • Have I researched the area thoroughly? Look at similar campaigns at other universities
  • Have I approached individuals or groups who might be interest in helping? Union Council has subcommittees who can help shape the paper before you submit it to Council
  • Have I consulted with people that are impacted or will be impacted by this paper? These groups will have invaluable insights into the topic of your paper and may have a completely different point of view.

How to Write a Council Paper

The paper should be structured as follows:

Title – Should be concise and comprehensible

Proposed by – (member of Union proposing the paper) Seconded by – (member of Union in support of the proposed paper)

Union Notes (Facts) – establishing factual information on the topic. If using statistics, make sure you provide a reference so people can see where these came from.

Union Believes (Opinion) – What you believe consider to be true. This is where debate will come in. What you believe may not be what other Council Members believe- be prepared to summarise your view and think about what questions people might ask you.

Union Resolves (Actions) – What do you want to happen. Tell the Union what actions you would like to be taken by the organisation, such as

  • Mandate Officers to speak to College or external bodies
  • Outline what resources (time or physical) the Union allocates
  • Publish a blog or public letter stating the Union’s stance

Examples of previous papers can be found here. A Word template for papers can be found here.

Once papers have been written please send them to send to the Council Chair: chair@imperial.ac.uk

The proposer of the paper is expected to present their paper at Council, where it will be discussed. You can find Council dates here. Papers must be submitted at least six clear College days in advance of every meeting.


An amendment is when you would like to make a change to a paper. A paper may also be amended in the Council meeting. The proposer may or may not accept the suggested amendment. If the proposer rejects the amendment, Council will vote on it.

What happens next?

Papers will be taken to council to be discussed and voted on. Papers are passed by a simple majority (ie 50+% of voting member). If the paper changes the Bye-Laws of the Union, it requires a two-thirds majority. It the paper is successful it will then become part of Union Policy, as long as it abides by Charity Law and other legal obligations. The Officer Trustees and proposer are the responsible for the actions to be carried out.