Portrait of Dr Robert Ellis Dr Robert Ellis

r.ellis@hud.ac.uk | 01484 472466


Dr Rob Ellis is a Senior Lecturer who teaches on a range of modules and specialises in the histories of madness and mental health care. Since completing his PhD, he has enjoyed working on a series of research projects as well as teaching history at post graduate level.  He joined the History team in 2009 and has drawn on his research experience in education and the creative industries to develop both his teaching and research interests. Rob holds a PGCE and is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Research and Scholarship

Rob’s research focuses on the histories of madness and mental health in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He is also interested in working collaboratively and his work with community and other groups was included as one of the University’s cases studies in the latest REF assessment. His current projects include a major study of London and its County Council in the period after the passing of the Local Government Act in 1888. The initial research for this has been funded by a grant from the Wellcome Trust. He is also working on a social and political study of the moves towards community care in London in the 1960s and 1970s. These projects build on Rob’s existing research on the West Riding of Yorkshire but they have also been influenced and inspired by his impact and public engagement activities. Rob aims to publish some thoughts on the co-productive nature of these activities but more about the AHRC Heritage and Stigma project can be found here. https://www.hud.ac.uk/research/researchcentres/mentalhealthandlearningdisabilitiesheritageandstigma/outputs/

Publications and Other Research Outputs


Ellis, R (2017) ‘Heritage and Stigma. Co-producing and communicating the histories of mental health and learning disabilityMedical Humanities , 43 (2), pp. 92-98. ISSN 1468-215X


Ellis, R (2015) ‘'Without decontextualisation': the Stanley Royd Museum and the progressive history of mental health careHistory of Psychiatry , 26 (3), pp. 332-347. ISSN 0957-154X

Stone, D., Hugheson, J. and Ellis, R. (2015) New Directions in Sport History . Sport in the Global Society - Historical perspectives. : Routledge. ISBN 978-1-13-885363-8


Ellis, R (2013) ‘Asylums and Sport: Participation, Isolation and the Role of Cricket in the Treatment of the InsaneThe International Journal of the History of Sport , 30 (1), pp. 83-101. ISSN 0952-3367

Ellis, R (2013) ‘Madge Gill: an outsider artist in historical context’. In: Madge Gill Medium & Visionary. : Orleans House Gallery. pp. 71-74. ISBN 978-1902643175

Ellis, R (2013) ‘'A constant irritation to the townspeople'? Local, Regional and National Politics and London's County Asylums at EpsomSocial History of Medicine . ISSN 0951-631X


Ellis, R., Allan, R. and Jensen, K. (2011) ‘Transitions, inventories and aspirations. New learners and their longer-term learning goalsResearch in Post-Compulsory Education , 16 (3), pp. 303-314. ISSN 1359-6748

Ellis, R (2011) ‘Asylums, isolation and sport’. In: What is the Future of Sport History in Academia?: a symposium, Wednesday 29th June 2011, University of Huddersfield


Ellis, R. and Gabriel, T. (2010) ‘Context?based learning for beginners: CBL and non?traditional studentsResearch in Post-Compulsory Education , 15 (2), pp. 129-140. ISSN 1359-6748

Ellis, R. and Allan, R. (2010) ‘Raising aspiration and widening participation: diversity, science and learning styles in contextJournal of Further and Higher Education , 34 (1), pp. 23-33. ISSN 0309-877X


Ellis, R. and Gabriel, T. (2008) ‘Transitions to HE: CBL for nontraditional studentsNew Directions (4), pp. 39-48. ISSN 1740-9888

Ellis, R. and Allan, R. (2008) ‘Learning styles and learning strategies: assessing their impact on Science Foundation studentsWidening Participation and Lifelong Learning , 10 (2). ISSN 1466-6529

Ellis, R (2008) ‘The Asylum, the Poor Law and the Growth of County Asylums in Nineteenth-Century YorkshireNorthern history: a review of the history of the North of England. , 45 (2), pp. 279-293. ISSN 0078-172X


Ellis, R (2007) ‘Work, identity, learning styles and the implications for teaching and learning in UK Higher Education. A case study of foundation year students.’. In: 5th International Conference on Researching Work and Learning, 2-5 December 2007, Cape Town, South Africa


Ellis, R (2006) ‘The Asylum, the Poor Law, and a Reassessment of the Four-Shilling Grant: Admissions to the County Asylums of Yorkshire in the Nineteenth CenturySocial History of Medicine , 19 (1), pp. 55-71. ISSN 0951631X


Ellis, R (2005) Creative Yorkshire: visual artists in shared workspaces - resources and facilities . Leeds: University of Leeds. ISBN 0-7287-1047-1

Ellis, R (2005) Creative Yorkshire: the voluntary creative sector in Yorkshire and the Humber . Leeds: University of Leeds. ISBN 0-7287-1048-X


Ellis, R (2004) Creative Yorkshire: cultural diversity and employment in the creative sector . Leeds: University of Leeds. ISBN 0-7287-1015-3


Ellis, R (2001) A field of practise or a mere house of detention? : the asylum and its integration, with special reference to the county asylums of Yorkshire, c.1844-1888 Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.


  • He is PI of the Heritage and Stigma Project
  • He is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • He is a member of the Centre for Health Histories
  • He is a Member Community Animation and Social Innovation Centre (CASIC)
    He has appeared on BBC TV and radio and in print media

Research Degree Supervision

Rob is happy to supervise students in any aspect relating to the history of mental health and learning disability. He is also interested in projects that explore new directions in this area and might link to his other activities related to impact and public engagement. This could mean projects that focus on co-production, oral or public histories as a complement to, or as opposed to more traditional archival sources.  Opportunities for funding can sometimes be found at http://www.heritageconsortium.ac.uk/ and http://www.necah.ac.uk/

Rob’s current post-grad students are working on projects on Reclaiming the Histories of the Whitechapel Murders (Charlotte Mallinson - PhD), Imperial Minds and the History of Madness in India (Mike Young - PhD), and Disability and the History of Remploy (Andy Holroyde – PhD, AHRC funded). Rob is also co-supervisor for Andrew McTominey (PhD, Heritage and Identity in the Washburn Valley – AHRC funded) with Dr Shane Ewan of Leeds Beckett and for Jane Stockdale (PhD, Museums, Mental Health and Well-being- AHRC funded) with Dr Simon Woodward of Leeds Becket. He  is also mentoring Claire Allen in her University of Huddersfield PhD on Dementia and Fashion. 

Rob’s successful PhD supervisions include Alice Brumby (Rate aided Lunatics in the West Riding – AHRC funded) as Director of Studies, and Duncan Stone (Amateurism and the Cultural Meaning of Cricket) and Sean Reid (Social History of Cricket in Ireland) as co-supervisor.

Enterprise Activities

Rob has been involved in and led a number of funding bids and associated activities. In 2011, he was the main academic lead on the JISC funded History to Herstory project http://historytoherstory.hud.ac.uk/  and he was PI on a successful Collaborative Doctoral Award with the Thackray Medical Museum. He has worked closely with St Anne’s Community Services and Leeds Mencap on Heritage Lottery Funding Bids and was subsequently awarded AHRC funding for the Heritage and Stigma project. As a spin off from this, Rob received funds to develop a collaborative project that included artists from Hoot Arts, service users and students. He has also worked with colleagues from CASIC, including the New Vic Theatre, to bring historical research to life https://www.keele.ac.uk/casic/. Rob has also been awarded funding from the South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and worked there as a Visiting Research Fellow. Rob worked closely with staff at Leeds City Museums and this led to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the University. Similarly he has received funding to produce a permanent exhibition at Brookes Mill in association with colleagues, students and museum professionals. Rob has also contributed to an exhibition programme on Outsider Art for the Orleans House Gallery in Twickenham.

Administrative Responsibilities

Rob currently acts as the Admissions Tutor for the History Pathways at the University of Huddersfield. He also acts as Principal Investigator on the AHRC funded Heritage and Stigma Project

Teaching and Professional Activities

Rob teaches on the first year Modern World module and is Module Leader for Hands on History (second year) and Mindsets, Madness and Institutions (Third year). Mindsets is based on Rob’s substantive research interests in the history of madness. He has worked with the Mental Health Museum http://www.southwestyorkshire.nhs.uk/quality-innovation/mental-health-museum/ and the Museum of the Mind http://museumofthemind.org.uk/ in a bid to help students understand representations of madness both now and in the past. Rob has also worked with the Mental Health Museum to allow students to understand more about the presentation of History and Heritage in his Hands of History module. For the last three years, students have created materials for the Museum during the course of their studies. To complement this, Rob has also developed a third year opportunity for students called History in Practice (HiP). This option is the equivalent of a final year dissertation and it allows students to work with partners in the heritage or education sectors to produce a public history output while developing key employability or ‘real world’ skills. The development of these modules as been shaped by Rob’s pedagogic research – details of which can be found in his list of publications.  Partners have included The National Coalmining Museum for England, Leeds City Museums, Barnsley Museums, The Thackray Medical Museum, The Tolson Museum, the People’s History Museum, Brookes Mill and local secondary and primary Schools. Rob has also been successful in a number of funding bids for projects that include an element of public engagement. In each of these cases, Rob has included opportunities for student research teams to be involved these projects so that they can contribute more fully to the links between research and teaching.

Rob has been nominated by students in the categories of Inspirational Teaching and Excellent Student Support in each of the last three years.