Whether you’re an incoming fresher or in your final year, exploring St. Andrews’ societies is a great way to get involved at university, find friends with similar interests, acquire a leadership position, and add something meaningful to your CV.
However, there are over 200 societies at St Andrews, and the list just keeps growing, so it’s easy to get overwhelmed. To better navigate the Freshers Fayre and avoid signing up for 50 email newsletters, these are 20 St Andrews societies you should definitely spend membership fees on.
1. Academic Society of Your Degree
Most of the St Andrews societies are those directly linked to a degree subject, and these are a great way to meet new people on your course and add a worthwhile extra-curricular to your CV. At St Andrews, there’s a society for every academic subject, whether you do Physics, Art History, or Italian, and they all host regular events.
Some of these events will include pub quizzes related to the subject, career fairs with alumni from St Andrews who studied your same course, and activities related to your degree subject; for example, STACS (St Andrews Computer Science Society) often has Hackathons with coding challenges, while the Hispanic Society has Tequila Tuesdays at The Rule.
2. Political Society
If you’re even slightly political or interested in current events, joining a political society is a great way to meet like-minded people and make a meaningful difference in the community. Some St Andrews’ societies centred around politics include Democrats Overseas, STAUCA (St Andrews University Conservative and Unionist Association), Coexistence Initiative, Feminist Society, Her Choice, Liberal Democrats, Scotland in Union, Students For Life, He For She, and Young European Movement.
Some of these societies even throw events together for discussions with people on the opposite side of the political spectrum, like Her Choice and Students For Life, which suits people who love debate or just developing their opinions.
3. Society of Your Culture
Joining one of the many St Andrews societies that centres around a particular culture is perfect if you’re missing home, wanting to learn more about a certain culture, practise speaking a foreign language (or missing speaking your native language), or just getting some free food.
There’s a society for most of the cultures represented in the St Andrews student body, including Afro-Caribbean, Armenian Society, Australia and New Zealand Society, Azerbaijan, Chinese Hongpao, Czech and Slovak, Filipino, French, German, Greek, Hispanic, Hong Kong, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japan, Korean, Malaysian, Middle Eastern, Persian, Polish, Russian, Scottish, Thai, and Ukrainian. Phew!
And, if your culture isn’t represented in the list of affiliated St Andrews societies, you can either create your own society or join the At Home and Abroad society.
4. Astronomical Society (AstroSoc)
In February 2019, AstroSoc was nominated for best academic society at the National Societies Award in Manchester, as an organisation that has “enhanced the academic experience for its members.” So, even if astronomy may not be your thing, it’s one of only a few nationally ranked St Andrews societies, so it’s worth checking out.
Every week, they host stargazing events that include discussions about astrophysics and use of their two telescopes, along with other events for people interested in the sky, stars, and galaxy.
5. Women for Women International Society
Like AstroSoc, Women for Women International is also one of just two St Andrews societies that were nominated for the National Societies Awards this year. Specifically, they were nominated for Best Fundraising / Campaigning Society for their work raising money to support female survivors of war and help them rebuild their lives.
However, Women for Women is a unique fundraising society because they host fun events to raise money and don’t feel like a drag for you attending. Some of their past events include The Great St Andrews Bake Off, Women in the Arts (which featured female artists doing a capella, comedy, singing, and dancing), and a Drink and Draw evening.
6. Yoga Society (YogiSoc)
Whether you’re passionate about yoga or not, YogiSoc isn’t as niche as it sounds. It’s definitely worth your money to pay for at least a 5-class membership and attend some yoga when you’re feeling stressed with coursework and revision. YogiSoc hosts about one yoga class a day, and purchasing membership gives you a serious discount on classes throughout the year.
They also host unique classes and workshops (sometimes free if it’s a special event!) including Yoga and Brunch, Gratitude Yoga Workshop, Yoga in the Castle, and Aerial Yoga in Dundee. It’s one of few St Andrews societies that allow you to get fit and relaxed without paying membership fees at the Sports Centre.
7. Celtic Society
Looking for some St Andrews societies where you can try something new and get out of your comfort zone? The University of St Andrews Celtic Society prides itself as the University’s oldest student society (222 years old!) and is always throwing events with discounts for members. Some of these include weekly lessons in Scottish country dancing, regular ceilidhs (including ceilidhs at St Andrews Castle), and Gaelic workshops.
If you’re in Scotland, why not immerse yourself in these events while you’re here and join Celtic Society?
8. Comedy Society
If you’re on a student budget, The St Andrews Comedy Society is one of few St Andrews societies where your £3 membership fee is definitely worth it, as you get membership discounts for each comedy show. The society hosts stand up comedy shows with student performers once or twice a month in the Union. Enjoy a drink or two at this event with your friends in Sandy’s and watch some student comedians.
The society has also expanded beyond comedy shows in recent years, with a Bargain Ball in 601, sketch comedy workshops, solo stand-up comedy shows, and a satirical news publication.
Breakaway, or the St Andrews Hillwalking Club, is a society every student should join. This society allows you to explore more of Scotland and get in shape. They take fortnightly weekend hillwalking trips to the Scottish Highlands and have a number of socials, including ceilidhs and casual day trips. Don’t regret not joining this club while you’re at St Andrews!
10. Hong Kong Society
Among the many St Andrews societies for world cultures, the Hong Kong Society stands out as one of the cultural societies every student should pay membership for. Some events include a Taste of Asia fayre, capture the flag, Cantonese classes, ceilidhs, dim sum and karaoke, and bubble tea and mahjong.
If that’s not enough, Hong Kong Society offers its members a number of discounts for restaurants around town. This includes 20 percent off Forgans, Mitchells, and Nandos, and 10 percent off The Vic, Doll’s House, Bibi’s Café, New Dynasty, and Cromars takeaways.
If you love jazz music, whether listening or playing, Jazzworks is often seen around the Union and other societies’ events. It’s worth the £3 membership fee to enjoy a few jazz nights out at the Union, which are popular among students.
They also collaborate with other societies to do events like Jazz and Poetry, CominiCo Evening Jam, and a Jazzy Auction with PhotoSoc.
12. Women in Work
For all female students, Women in Work is one of the best St Andrews societies. This society focuses on networking and learning more about different careers. Plus it is women in the industry coming to St Andrews to share their first-hand experiences. Women in Work have stepped up their game this past year with a number of industry events for all students. Some of these events include Women In Law, Women In Journalism, Women In Entrepreneurship, Women In Fashion, and Women In STEM. They also have a number of casual networking events like garden parties and EDEN, a night out at the Vic.
13. STACS / Women in Computer Science
For students studying Computer Science, interested in coding and the tech industry, or just wanting to join a society that will stand out on a CV, here are two worthwhile St Andrews societies. STACS (St Andrews Computing Society) and Women in Computer Science, which just launched last fall. Both societies host a number of high-profile companies for events, including Goldman Sachs, Google, JP Morgan, American Express, and Bloomberg.
They’re known for coding events, often with free food and merchandise for all who take part. Additionally, they have networking events with large-scale tech companies, important for anyone interested in a career in technology.
14. Shimmy Soc
Shimmy Society St Andrews hosts about two to three classes a month in all types of dance. This is perfect for beginner dancers, students looking to get fit, or more experienced dancers. There’s a strong sense of community in this society as well. Members tend to head out for drinks after class, and they also have separate socials as well.
Some of their dance classes include beginners salsa lessons, bachata fiesta, and Indian dance classes, along with a major Around The World Of Dance event in April.
15. Vegan & Vegetarian Society
VegSoc St Andrews is the society to join if you love free food and nice people. They host events at least once a week, from picnics and beach barbeques to potlucks and bonfire socials. They also center events around certain cultures or holidays, including Veggie Chinese New Year, “!Come Comer Veggie Tapas!”, Munch Through The Mediterranean, and Hungry for Hanukkah. Whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, or even a meat-lover, definitely consider joining VegSoc.
16. Student Publications
Among the many St Andrews societies are a number of student publications you can get involved with. These cover all interests and mediums and will help you build your CV and portfolio. Additionally, you can obtain a leadership position, and be among like-minded people.
The Saint is the largest student-run publication of St Andrews. It covers all aspects of University life, from theatre, movie, and events reviews to breaking news and in-depth features articles. No matter your interests, you will definitely find a section to write for. You can also join as a copy editor, photographer, illustrator, or member of the business team.
I am Editor-in-Chief of The Saint so I’m slightly biased, but I admit there are many publications you can join in addition to or instead of The Saint. These are more specialised and mostly online websites, though some also publish physical magazines!
These include The Stand for news and entertainment around St Andrews; St Andrews Economist; The Record for music news (a branch of STAR: St Andrews Radio); Hearing Aid Magazine, a music magazine also of STAR); Brizo Magazine for news, arts, politics, and culture; HASTA Magazine, which is run by students of Art History; The Interpreter Magazine, which is for language students and enthusiasts with articles written in foreign languages; Owl Eyes for student arts and culture; and Salvator for satirical news by the St Andrews Comedy Society.
17. Guide Dog Soc
Love dogs? Join Guide Dog Soc! Here you can hang out with guide dogs and raise funds to support them. Some events include Halloween Pup Crawl, Pup Quiz, Puppy Portraits, and Guide Dogs Zumabthon Party, many of which have either dogs present or raise money for the cause.
18. Just So Society
Just So Society is the perfect society for those who love to perform. It’s specifically dedicated to musical theatre and is a great way to know when upcoming shows and auditions are. Whether you want to perform or watch, definitely make sure to join!
The society puts on at least one show a semester. Some of their past shows include “High School Musical”, “Little Women”, “Into The Woods”, and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”
19. Art Soc
Similar to YogiSoc, Art Soc is one of the St Andrews societies for everyone. Whether you love making art or not, many of their events are perfect for stress-relief, which any student needs. They host events several times a month, with some including Life Drawing, Bob Ross Night, and Watercolour Workshop.
This past semester, the society hosted a weekend Creative Retreat with Inklight in Boreland Loch Tay. Activities there included tie-dyeing, nature walks, black-out poetry, and embroidery. They’re always hosting art events, so be sure to purchase a membership if it sounds at all interesting to you.
20. St Candrews
St Candrews is one of the newest St Andrews societies and it’s taking the town by storm. The society organises food bank collections at house parties, student halls, and other societies’ gatherings. Items are then donated to local food banks in Fife. It’s a great community of people all trying to make a positive difference in St Andrews. Doing this looks great on your CV and is a good way to fill your free time. Last month, they raised 1538 items for the food bank in just one day!