Staff profile

Professor David Mayall

Head of Humanities

David Mayall




College of Arts, Humanities and Education




Kedleston Road, Derby Campus



I am Head of the Department of Humanities, which is one of the two departments which makes up the College of Law, Humanities and Social Sciences. I joined the University of Derby and started in this post in September 2015. Previously, I worked in various leadership roles as Head of History, Head of a Division of Humanities, Head of Quality and University Head of Teaching Operations. I worked for many years on the quality and standards and learning and teaching agendas with a view to the continual improvement of the student experience. Most recently, working out of the Vice-Chancellor’s Office, I worked on developing university policies and frameworks in relation to the academic infrastructure, the academic calendar, timetabling, teaching contact hours and learning analytics.

I see Humanities as a lively, progressive and forward-looking disciplinary area which provides students with a unique combination of skills and abilities which are highly relevant in the highly competitive job market. I aim to build on the strengths of the department, already rated by students as one of the best universities for the quality of teaching, in providing the highest quality student experience.

Teaching responsibilities

I have taught on a wide variety of undergraduate and postgraduate modern European and British history modules for over 25 years, from skills based and foundation modules to those in my own area of specialism, immigrant and minority history and the history of ethnic relations.

Professional interests

I have been a long-standing co-editor (with Professor Don Macraild of the University of Ulster) for the international journal Immigrants and Minorities: Historical Studies in Ethnicity, Migration and Diaspora. I have been responsible for commissioning articles, special edited collected volumes and liaising with and working with a large number of established and new scholars from all parts of the world. I have published in the field of social and labour history and in ethnic and racial studies and migration history. More specifically, my work has been in the area of Gypsy studies and working class autobiography.

I was a member of an International Group for the Study of Gypsy History, based at the Université de Paris V, and worked for the group in its early days and over a period of around 5 years. I was the only British historian attendee at a meeting of experts on Roma culture and history organised by the European Commission's Directorate General for Education and Culture held in Brussels in March 2010. The outcome was the establishment of a multi-disciplinary and wide-ranging network of Roma scholars and experts, the European Academic Network on Romani Studies (A European Union/Council of Europe joint programme). I am a member of the Programme Committee for the 2016 Nordic Conference on Romani Studies and a member of the editorial committee of the Södertörn Series on Romani Studies (Södertörn University, Stockholm).

I participate in the national quality and standards network as a QAA Higher Education reviewer and a member of their panel of experts. I have acted widely as an external examiner and as a reviewer and member of approval and review panels for provision at other UK HEIs. I am a regular participant at conferences concerned with the enhancement of the student experience through teaching and learning innovations, learning from complaints and data analytics.

Research interests

My research interests are broadly in the field of social and labour history and in ethnic and racial studies and migration history. More specifically, my work has been in the area of Gypsy studies and working class autobiography. My most recent monograph, Gypsy Identities 1500 - 2000: from Egipcyans and Moon-men to the Ethnic Romany, (Routledge, London, 2004), has been reviewed as: "...a monumental work of unprecedented depth, a landmark study, reader friendly.... It will provide a great stimulus for seminar discussions about Gypsies, and not just in Gypsy studies courses. Gypsy Identities also has merit as a potential standard work in multicultural studies, and should be considered for adoption for either teaching or reference purposes across the social sciences and humanities."

My research and publications into working class autobiography, with the eminent historians Professors John Burnett and David Vincent as co-editors and project originators, have made a major contribution to both social and labour history broadly and to an understanding of memoirs as source and genre more specifically. The three volume bibliography of working class autobiographies (The Autobiography of the Working Class: An annotated critical bibliography, 3 volumes, 1790-1945, Harvester, Brighton, 1984-1989) has been widely and internationally recognised as the leading and authoritative work in this area and has been described as being "of outstanding merit", "an essential research tool of economic and social history", as having "widened the boundaries of working class history", as "a unique work" and "a magnificent bibliography".


Recent publications