Professor David Smith (SFHEA, FRSA)

Head of Moray House School of Education and Sport

  • Moray House School of Education and Sport
  • University of Edinburgh

Contact details



Moray House School of Education and Sport
Old Moray House
Holyrood Road

University of Edinburgh (Holyrood Campus)
Post code



My research interest is in religion and education. Exploring the possible religio-cultural milieu of certain religious practices and beliefs has long captured my imagination; not least, as a way to understand this fundamental aspect of human behaviour. I am interested in the way in which religion is conceptualised and taught in educational environments.

I have held a variety of leadership positions in academic and non-academic environments through which I have sought with others to make a positive difference. Since October 2022, I have been privileged to lead Moray House School of Education and Sport; an amazing School community of highly talented individuals whose research, teaching, and wider work, has significant societal impact throughout the world. Prior to joining the University of Edinburgh, I spent ten years at the University of Aberdeen where I was: Head of School of Education (2017-2022), reporting to the Senior Vice-Principal and being a member of the University Management Group; innovation Project Lead, University of Aberdeen OnDemand Online Access (widening participation) English and Maths courses (2016-2018); School Director of Innovation and Internationalisation (2015-2017); and Director of the Professional Graduate Diploma in Education: Primary, Secondary, and Distance Learning (2014-2016).

I was elected Chair of the Scottish Council of Deans of Education (2020-2022), an organisation which represents eleven Higher Education Institutions in Scotland. Through my tenure as Chair, which coincided with the Covid-19 pandemic, I played a key leadership role in the national response to Covid-19 and Teacher Education in Scotland, which ultimately enabled thousands of Student Teachers throughout the country to graduate and to progress into employment as Probationary Teachers. I enjoy working with people in other cultures and regularly visited Beijing, China, over a five year period (2016-2020), where I taught a successful professional learning course for Chaoyang District Institute of Education.

Prior to my time in Higher Education, I worked nationally for Education Scotland/Scottish Government (2010-2012) where within the Assessment and Moderation team, I had lead-responsibility for the local authorities within the Scottish Highlands and Islands. Before this, I served in local government for Aberdeen City Council's Education Department. I entered local government having sought to educate and enthuse young people as a Secondary (High School) teacher of Religious Education/Religious, Moral, and Philosophical Studies. Prior to becoming a Teacher, I worked in the Third Sector where over several years I led a team to turnaround a struggling charitable company. Throughout these various roles and contexts, I have enjoyed collaborating with others and working through gnarly problems, towards shaping new possibilities. In my current role, the way in which education and research can have a positive impact on people's lives, and that of society collectively, is something that motivates me.


PDGE: Postgraduate Diploma in Education (Distinction), University of Edinburgh, UK 

PhD: Doctor of Philosophy (Religion), University of Durham, UK (Arts Humanities Research Council Funded Studentship)

ThM: Master of Theology, Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, NJ, USA (Master's Funded Scholarship)

BD (Hons): Bachelor of Divinity (First Class), University of Glasgow, UK

Responsibilities & affiliations

Representative, Scottish Council of Deans Representative: Universities Scotland (February 2023-present)

Convener: University of Edinburgh LGBT+ Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDIC) Sub-Committee (February 2023-present)

Member: Universitas21 Deans of Education Group (November 2022-present)

Honorary Professor of Education: University of Aberdeen (October 2022-present)

Member: Global Deans of Education Forum, University of Kansas and East China Normal University (October 2022-present)

Emeritus Chair, Scottish Council of Deans of Education (July 2020-July 2022)

Member, Scottish Council of Deans of Education (2014-present)