Most Popular University Societies (Ranked)

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Going to university is a big change for many people. However, with these changes comes the opportunity to try something new. Many people choose to join societies, which are clubs where students meet to celebrate a shared interest. This can be anything from sports, to knitting, to food – the list is endless! Whether you are trying something new or sticking to what you love, joining a society can be a great way to spend your free time, and meet new people.

While there are hundreds of societies at various universities, some are more common than others. Keep reading to find out more about some of the most popular societies in the UK.

1. Snowsports

According to this survey by, the most popular society in the UK is snowsports at the University of Exeter. Of course, this particular society is not offered by all universities, as it requires very specific facilities. However, if you do have the opportunity, snowsports can be an exciting new society to try.

As with most sports societies, there will be meetings for beginners to get some practice, as well as competitions for more experienced skiers and snowboarders. If you are starting as a beginner, it’s worth seeing if you can attend a taster session to see if this society is for you. You don’t want to commit to a society, which often includes a joining fee, and then realise after the first session that you don’t like it!

2. Theatre

Theatre societies are a hugely popular choice for university students. The majority of universities have some sort of theatre group, possibly making it more accessible than snowsports, while still being an exciting opportunity and a fun way to de-stress from your studies.

University drama groups will often be working towards a performance at the end of the term or year. But even if performing on a stage doesn’t sound like something you would enjoy, you might find your niche by helping with lighting, or working backstage. Keep an open mind when looking at societies – you might stumble on something you really enjoy.

3. Football

Sports societies are almost always popular with students to spend time away from textbooks, as well as getting some exercise and getting to know the rest of your team. This article from lists sports groups as one of the best societies to check out at university. Football is one of the most common of these, as you might expect.

If you have been part of a football team at school or college, joining a university football society can help you keep up with that interest. Equally, there will almost certainly be beginner opportunities if you always wanted to play football but haven’t yet had the chance to.

4. Hockey

Another common sport to feature on this list, hockey is a popular choice for any student looking to join a sports society. As with many sports, you will most likely be able to join this society as a beginner.

However, there are also plenty of tournament opportunities, if you prefer playing competitively. Representing your university in a game can be a great feeling – especially if you win! For more on hockey societies at universities and the levels you can join at, check out this page by the University of Leeds.

5. Martial arts

As you may have noticed, societies that get students exercising are a very popular way to take a break from studying. Martial arts societies, from judo to Muay Thai boxing, take this a step further.

Not only do they keep your body healthy but can build confidence and be a useful life skill. This article from explains some of the benefits of learning a martial art.

Martial arts societies might be a good option for you if you are unsure how much spare time you will have. They are less likely to require a time commitment than, for example, a hockey team working towards a competitive tournament.

However, make sure to check this with your particular university. They may still require you to commit for a year and pay a joining fee.

6. Religious societies

If you follow a particular religion, there is likely to be a university society dedicated to it. If not, you can make and lead one yourself! Religious societies are a popular way to find people with similar beliefs to you, especially if you are used to a religious community at home, that you may miss if you move away for university.

With most religious societies, you can be as active a member as you choose. You may not be able to commit to regular meetings, particularly around exam seasons.

However, there are also leadership opportunities for the societies you are really invested in. This isn’t just true for religious societies, but all of them.

These include the treasurer, who deals with finances, and the president, who essentially runs the society. For example, the president usually arranges meetings, and is involved in recruiting new members. Check out this page from for more about leadership roles in university societies.

7. Radio station societies

Many universities will have a society that runs a radio station. This is a popular choice for a range of students, whether you have a creative side, or are interested in technology. If you are looking to try something new, this could be perfect, as very few people will have had this sort of opportunity before university.

This society can also help to boost your CV, particularly if you are looking to go into a career such as journalism or media after your degree. Societies can be more than just a hobby – they can help you develop soft skills that will be useful in university and beyond. For more on soft skills, check out this article from FutureLearn.

8. Cheerleading and dance

Cheerleading and dance are both popular societies, allowing you to combine sport and music. For most people, these activities are very different from the course they are studying. This makes them a welcome break away from work, and a more social way to spend free time than bingeing Netflix!

As with theatre, these groups often work towards a certain performance or event. It is therefore worth making sure you are going to enjoy the meetings and rehearsals before signing up. For a guide to the pros and cons of joining such societies, as well as plenty more information on university societies in general, have a look at this Think Student article.

9. Athletics

This is another great society for students looking for a way to burn off some energy in their spare time. Track and field events are ideal sports for competitions within the university, and can be fun to watch, too.

Many universities also have cross country groups, if you prefer long-distance runs. These are a good option if you want to build up your endurance, take part in competitions, or meet other runners. If you are looking for a more casual run, you might prefer not joining a society, but simply going for a morning jog around the city or campus before lectures.

10. Rugby

As you may have noticed, sports societies are popular at university! Rugby is still commonly played in secondary schools across the UK, and many choose to continue this through their degree. Rugby societies will be similar to the other sports groups mentioned in this article.

There will be facilities for beginners as well as more intense training and competitions. Either way, this sport is a great way to meet new people, get some exercise, and de-stress by taking some time away from a busy study schedule.

*Please note that the ranking within this article is based on the results of a survey done by Click here to find out more.

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