Roscoe Lecture Series - Liverpool John Moores University

Roscoe Lecture series

The Roscoe Lecture series was launched in November 1997 to provide an open platform for debate on topics of public interest. Today, they are one of the UK’s largest public lecture series, regularly attracting audiences of over 800 people. 

The Roscoe Lectures play an important part in the intellectual life of Merseyside, helping to foster informed debate, broaden horizons and perspectives, and uphold the crucial spirit of intellectual inquiry and free speech in which Roscoe passionately believed.

Influential speakers

Since 1997, LJMU has delivered 120 lectures, featuring a wide range of speakers, including HRH Prince of Wales, The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Presidents of Ireland and Ghana, and Sir Brian Leveson, now Chancellor of LJMU.

We have hosted passionate and informed debate from statesmen, lawyers, religious and political leaders, astronomers, soldiers, poets, writers, scientists, musicians, journalists, doctors, scholars, survivors of crimes against humanity, campaigners, sports people and many others from diverse backgrounds.

While many of the Roscoe Lectures have explored the lighter side of life, such as the role of humour by comedian Ken Dodd, others have examined man’s inhumanity to man, with lectures by survivors of the Holocaust and the genocide in Rwanda. 

Bringing these influential voices to the city of Liverpool helps to generate discussion and promote a sense of citizenship, a key vision of the Roscoe Lecture Series. 

Two hundred years ago, Roscoe himself initiated the first public debates in Liverpool.  The ‘father of Liverpool culture’, he passionately believed that education shaped attitudes and created opportunity. A flourishing lecture series named in his memory is the gift of the University to the city, embodying our role as a modern civic university forming tomorrow’s citizens.

The lectures are available to download, extending their reach to a global audience.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Nigel Weatherill and the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby

William Roscoe: the father of Liverpool culture

William Roscoe (1753-1831) was the son of a publican who indelibly transformed the cultural life of Liverpool. Described as ‘Liverpool’s greatest citizen’, he was a man of many talents: a champion of freedom for all, a poet, writer, scholar, patron of the arts, bibliophile and botanist. As MP for Liverpool, Roscoe showed great courage when he campaigned for the abolition of slavery. He also played a key role in ‘Renaissance Liverpool’ during the early 19th century. 

Education was also close to his heart and in 1823, he played an instrumental role in the establishment of the Liverpool Mechanics’ School of Arts, the precursor of LJMU. Roscoe’s mission to extend the benefits of education to all remains at the heart of LJMU’s operations today and the University is proud to maintain links with its founding father through the Roscoe Lecture Series and our work with schools and colleges across the region.

Good Citizenship Awards

LJMU believes that schools should be leading the way in encouraging young people to become caring, compassionate and tolerant individuals who have a real sense of civic responsibility. Through our Foundation for Citizenship we present Good Citizenship Awards in nearly 1,000 schools across the North West. These awards recognise the often overlooked contributions that young people from different cultures and communities make to society today.