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Nuffield College, Oxford

Colleges and halls of the University of Oxford

Nuffield College

Nuffield College Courtyard, from the west
College name Nuffield College
Named after William Morris, Lord Nuffield
Established 1937
Sister college None
Warden Sir Andrew Dilnot
Undergraduates None
Graduates 74
Location New Road and Worcester Street

Nuffield College, Oxford is located in Oxford city centre

Location of Nuffield College within central Oxford

College website
Blazon Ermine on a fesse or between in chief two roses gules barbed and seeded proper and in base a balance of the second three pears sable.

Nuffield College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England. It is a graduate college and specialises in the social sciences, particularly economics, politics and sociology. It is one of the newest colleges, having been founded in 1937, and one of the smallest with around 75 postgraduate students and 60 academic fellows. Its architecture is designed to conform to the traditional college layout and its modernist spire is a landmark for those approaching Oxford from the west.

As of 2006, the college had an estimated financial endowment of £146m.[1] This makes it the fourth richest Oxford college by assets.[2]


  • History 1
  • Buildings 2
  • Research 3
  • People associated with Nuffield 4
    • Notable students and fellows 4.1
    • Wardens 4.2
  • Gallery 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Nuffield College was founded in 1937 after a donation to the University by the industrialist and the founder of Morris Motors, Lord Nuffield. On 16 November 1937 the university entered a Deed of Covenant and Trust with Lord Nuffield.[3] He donated land for the college on New Road, to the west of the city centre near the mound of Oxford Castle, on the site of the largely disused basin of the Oxford Canal.[4] As well as the land, Nuffield gave £900,000[n 1] to build the college and to provide it with an endowment fund.[3][6] For the creation of Nuffield College and for his other donations he was described in 1949 by an editorial in The Times as "the greatest benefactor of the University since the Middle Ages".[7]

From its inception, Nuffield College initiated a number of trends at both Oxford and Cambridge.[2] It was the first college to have both women and men housed together. It was also the first college to consist solely of graduate students. In addition, it was the first in modern times to have a defined subject focus, namely, the social sciences.


Nuffield is located on the site of the basin of the Oxford Canal to the west of Oxford. The land on which the college stands was formerly the city's principal canal basin and coal wharfs.

A tall light-coloured stone square tower with a small metal spire; to the left, a smaller building in the same stone with a dark tiled roof
Nuffield College, facing New Road, with the library tower topped by a flèche. The main entrance to the college is in the middle of the building to the left of the tower.The library tower and spire seen from New Road.

The architect Austen Harrison, who had worked in Greece and Palestine, was appointed by the University to design the buildings. His initial design, heavily influenced by Mediterranean architecture, was rejected by Nuffield, who called it "un-English"[6] and refused to allow his name to be associated with it. Harrison reworked the plans, aiming for "something on the lines of Cotswold domestic architecture",[6] as Nuffield wanted. The plans were approved by Lord Nuffield in 1940. Construction of the college began in 1949. Restrictions on construction after the Second World War meant that work on the college was not completed until 1960. The original plan for the college to occupy land on both sides of Worcester Street was scaled down as a result of budget and material shortages, and to this day the land to the west of the college is occupied by a "temporary" car park. In one change, the tower, which had been planned to be ornamental, was redesigned to hold the college's library. It was the first tower built in Oxford for 200 years and is about 150 feet (46 m) tall, including the flèche on top. The buildings are arranged around two quadrangles, with residential accommodation for students and fellows in one, and the hall, library and administrative offices in the other. The chapel has stained glass windows designed by John Piper.

The architectural aesthetic of the final design, particularly the tower and its fleche, has attracted some criticism; unlike the other "dreaming spires" of Oxford, Nuffield's tower is a masonry-clad steel-framed book-stack. The architectural historian Sir Howard Colvin said that Harrison's first design was Oxford's "most notable architectural casualty of the 1930s";[8] it has also been described as a "missed opportunity" to show that Oxford did not live "only in the past".[9] Reaction to the architecture of the college has been largely unfavourable. In the 1960s, it was described as "Oxford's biggest monument to barren reaction".[10] The tower has been described as "ungainly",[11] and marred by repetitive windows. The travel writer Jan Morris wrote that the college was "a hodge-podge from the start".[12] However, the architectural historian Sir Nikolaus Pevsner, although unimpressed with most of the college, thought that the tower helped the Oxford skyline and predicted it would "one day be loved".[13] The writer Simon Jenkins doubted Pevsner's prediction, and claimed that "vegetation" was the "best hope" for the tower – as well as the rest of the college.[14]


Around a third of Nuffield's fellows hold appointments at the University of Oxford as lecturers, readers or professors. In addition, the college fully funds around a dozen "Official Fellowships", which the College views as tenured research professorships (although most also teach on the University's graduate programme), and about a dozen three year Postdoctoral research fellows. The college also houses a number of young scholars who hold distinguished awards, such as British Academy post-doctoral fellowships, some senior research fellows and a group of research-active emeritus and honorary fellows. The collection also produces works in the Nuffield Election Studies.

The college has been the source of some of the major research developments in social science. These include the British Election Studies and the major programme of research on Social Mobility in Britain. It was the birthplace of the "Oxford School" of Industrial Relations; it pioneered the development of cost benefit analysis for developing countries; and it has made a major contribution to the methodology of econometrics.

People associated with Nuffield

Notable students and fellows

Many prominent people have studied at Nuffield including; Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, Manmohan Singh, Former Prime Minister of India, Geoffrey Gallop, former Premier of Western Australia and Nicholas Stern, economist and future President of the British Academy.

Visiting Sir David Cox, eminent statistician, was Warden from 1988–94 and remains an Honorary Fellow.




  1. ^ £900,000 in 1937 would be worth approximately £246M in today's terms, adjusting for changes in GDP.[5]
  1. ^ "Oxford College Endowment Incomes, 1973–2006". Archived from the original on 2012-05-27. , Press Release, May 2005, plus Index (updated July 2007).
  2. ^ a b Fifty years of Nuffield College | Education. The Guardian (2008-06-03). Retrieved on 2013-08-24.
  3. ^ a b Loveday
  4. ^ Tyack, p. 300
  5. ^ Officer, Lawrence H. (2011). "Five Ways to Compute the Relative Value of a U.K. Pound Amount, 1830 to Present". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved 21 March 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c Colvin, p. 174
  7. ^ "Nuffield College".  
  8. ^ Colvin, p. 166
  9. ^ Richards
  10. ^ Smith, p. 28
  11. ^ Tyack, p. 301
  12. ^ Morris, p. 205
  13. ^ Pevsner, p. 65
  14. ^ Jenkins
  • Harrison, Brian, ed. (1994). The History of the University of Oxford Volume 8: The Twentieth Century.  
  • Jebb, Miles (1996). The Colleges of Oxford.  
  • Tyack, Geoffrey (1998). Oxford: an architectural guide. Oxford University Press.  

External links

  • Official website
  • Virtual Tour of Nuffield College
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