Professor David Smith (SFHEA, FRSA)

Deputy Head of College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences (CAHSS)

  • College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences (CAHSS)
  • University of Edinburgh

Contact details



College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences
The University of Edinburgh
55-60 George Street

Post code



I have been Deputy Head of College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences (CAHSS) since February 2024. In this role, I support the Head of College in the development, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of CAHSS's strategic plans. I have particular responsibility for taking forward the College's education strategy, priorities, and plans, around Learning, Teaching and Student Experience.

I have held a variety of roles in academic and non-academic environments through which I have sought with others to make a positive difference. I was Head of School for six and a half years: at the University of Edinburgh, as Head of Moray House School of Education and Sport; and at the University of Aberdeen (where I spent ten years). In the latter role, I reported to the Senior Vice-Principal and was 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), a national organisation which represents eleven Higher Education Institutions in Scotland. My tenure as Chair coincided with the Covid-19 pandemic and, consequently, presented frequent opportunities to work with others through the gnarliest of issues. 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.

My Professional background is as a former Secondary (High School) teacher of Religious, Moral, and Philosophical Studies. Before entering Higher Education, in this capacity, I worked nationally for Education Scotland/Scottish Government where within the Assessment and Moderation team I had lead-responsibility for the local authorities within the Scottish Highlands and Islands. Prior to this, I served in local government for Aberdeen City Council's Education Department as a Curriculum Development Officer. Before 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 diverse contexts, I have enjoyed collaborating with others to problem-solve and seek change - towards the shaping of new possibilities. 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. 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. 


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

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

ThM: Master of Theology, Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, NJ, USA (Peter Marshall Scholar)

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

Responsibilities & affiliations

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

Member: Global Deans of Education Forum (October 2022-present)

Member: U21 Deans of Education (October 2022-present)

Emeritus Chair, Scottish Council of Deans of Education (July 2020-July 2022); Member, Scottish Council of Deans of Education (2014-2024)