How are academic clubs and societies different?

This is the first of three chapter about Clubs and Societies. To complete this reader, read each chapter carefully and then unlock and complete our materials to check your understanding.   

– Introduce the concept of clubs and societies in academia

– Discuss the differences in the terms ‘club’ and ‘society’

– Understand the commitment a fraternity/sorority demands

Chapter 1

While most people are familiar with the general concept of a public club or society, their importance and status within an academic context tends to be somewhat different. In some cultures, participation in a relevant academic society may be as important as the degree itself, making this often-overlooked topic worth reading about. To help students, this short three-chapter reader therefore provides a brief overview of clubs and societies and how they differ (Chapter 1) before discussing the general benefits of signing up to one (Chapter 2). Finally, we explore some of the most helpful tips for deciding precisely which clubs and societies are worth your time and attention (Chapter 3).

What are clubs and societies?

In the context of higher education, the collocation ‘clubs and societies’ is often used to describe the various extra-curricular activities which are available to students on a university’s campus. Universities might have sports teams which feed into national teams for example, such as with American football or British rugby – and if you’re a keen sportsman, such opportunities may well be a strong deciding factor for which university you end up choosing.

In truth, the choice on offer can be quite overwhelming for first-year students. There are societies that are politically, socially, sexually and foodie oriented, and there are societies for creating awareness and incubating entrepreneurial start-ups. There are drama clubs, music clubs, university magazines, cultural events, and much more, with the theme in many of these clubs and societies is that they are student-led and are for the betterment of developing skills and improving employability.


How do clubs and societies differ?

While it is possible for these two words to be used interchangeably, sports and physical activities are usually designated as being ‘clubs’ while the range of other social interests may more commonly be known as ‘societies’. While it is possible for a sports club to have a professional coach and administration team that isn’t student-led, almost all societies are managed by the students that participate in them – offering lots of opportunity for personal development. Neither a club nor a society, however, are synonymous with the North-American fraternity (brotherhood) or sorority (sisterhood) societies that are popularised in the media.

What are fraternities and sororities?

In North America in particular, participation in a fraternity (male) or sorority (female) is arguably more serious than for other clubs and societies. This is because membership is considered life-long and bonds the men and woman involved as figurative brothers and sisters that pledge to support one another through their academic and employment careers. Such societies usually have charters at several institutes across North America, they may be openly affiliated with a religion, and they normally have a mission statement which adheres to helping society in some way. As such, it is common for such organisations to carry out philanthropic work.

These often Greek-named societies began as secret groups in the eighteenth century when academics wished to gather and discuss more than just their studies, and although they are now publicly known, fraternities and sororities still tend to maintain elements of secrecy through passwords, identifying handshakes and initiation rituals. If you’re studying in the USA or Canada and you have the opportunity to join such a community, remember to take that commitment seriously and enjoy the opportunities that such a society brings.


For most, the club or society that you join may reflect a life-long interest or hobby, or be aligned with a fundamental political or social characteristic you possess. It may even be a means to develop professional skills that will enhance your CV and make you more experienced and qualified. To more carefully consider the benefits of joining a club or society, read on to Chapter 2. 

To reference this reader:

Academic Marker (2022) Clubs and Societies. Available at: (Accessed: Date Month Year).

1 of 3 Chapters Completed


Once you’ve completed all three chapters in this short reader about Clubs and Societies, you might then wish to download our Chapter Worksheets to check your progress or print for your students. These professional PDF worksheets can be easily accessed for only a few Academic Marks.

Chapter 1 explores the topic: How are academic clubs and societies different? Our Chapter 1 Worksheet (containing guidance, activities and answer keys) can be accessed here at the click of a button. 

Chapter 2 explores the topic: What are five benefits of joining a club or society? Our Chapter 2 Worksheet (containing guidance, activities and answer keys) can be accessed here at the click of a button. 

Chapter 3 explores the topic: What are five tips for choosing university societies? Our Chapter 3 Worksheet (containing guidance, activities and answer keys) can be accessed here at the click of a button. 

To save yourself 2 Marks, click on the button below to gain unlimited access to all of our Clubs and Societies Chapter Worksheets. This All-in-1 Pack includes every chapter, activity and answer key related to this topic in one handy and professional PDF.

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