Emeritus Professor Clive Emsley was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Philosophy by Edge Hill University today in recognition to his enormous contribution to criminal justice historical research.

Professor Emsley has supported, and been instrumental in the emergence of the history of crime and policing as a significant field of academic study since the 1970s. During his academic career Professor Emsley has written 14 single-authored texts, 18 edited or co-edited collections and over 50 articles and book chapters.

Criminal justice history has been an important part of teaching and research by members of the History staff at Edge Hill University since the 1980s. Edge Hill was among the first History programmes in the country to introduce modules on crime, so as a recognised authority on the subject of crime and policing, Professor Emsley’s publications have been on History reading lists at the University for several decades, and he delivered a guest lecture at the University in 2010.

Accepting his honorary doctorate, and addressing graduands today he mentioned the importance of a university education, and singled out the degrees of some of today’s graduating cohort – English and History.

He said: “I really worry about the concept of training which politicians of all hues seem to think Universities should be giving. It leads to a dismissal of quite important issues, including degrees in what a lot of you have done, including English and history.

“But why are history and English so significant? Because they teach you critical skills, not “GB plc” skills, but critical ways of approaching problems which employers find useful.

“You can think your way through a problem. You know how to read something and criticise it while you are reading it. You know how to read between the lines which is very significant.

“To my mind the growth of university education is a good thing, not just because it trains people for “GB plc” but because it encourages people to think critically, to challenge soundbites and opinions and think their way through problems.”

Professor Emsley was a co-founder and co-director of the International Centre for Comparative Criminological Research at the Open University from 2003 until 2009. He was also President of the International Association for the History of Crime and Criminal Justice for twelve years. Although based at the Open University since the 1970s, Professor Emsley has also held visiting posts in universities in Australia, Canada, France and New Zealand.

He has also made numerous appearances in the media, for example, he authored the BBC History online pages on crime and policing and appeared on Who Do You Think You Are advising Twiggy about an ancestor with a criminal record. His tenure at the Open University continued until his retirement in 2009 and he now holds an emeritus and senior research associate position.