Oxford University - Nuffield College. Image courtesy of SBA73.

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Nuffield College

Nuffield College is an English graduate college that specializes in the social sciences, especially economics, politics, and sociology. It is one of Oxford’s newer colleges, having been founded in 1937. It is also the smallest college, with only 75 postgraduate students and 60 academic fellows.

Nuffield College was the first Oxford college to accept both men and women. It has been coeducational since its foundation.

Architecturally, Nuffield is designed to conform to the traditional college layout. It has, however, a modernist spire that has become a landmark for those approaching Oxford from the west.

What's the History of Nuffield College?

Nuffield College was founded in 1937 with a donation by industrialist and founder of Morris Motors Lord Nuffield to the University of Oxford. Lord Nuffield donated land for the college on New Road, to the west of the city centre, and £900,000 to build the college.

Nuffield was the first college to have both women and men housed together and also the first college to consist solely of graduate students. It was also the first in modern times to have a defined subject focus, the social sciences.

Nuffield appointed its first fellows in 1939, although the outbreak of World War II meant that construction did not start until 1949. Nuffield admitted its first students in 1945.

The Buildings of Nuffield College

The College buildings were designed by architect Austen Harrison, who had worked in Greece and Palestine. The style was heavily influenced by Mediterranean architecture. The plans were approved by Lord Nuffield in 1940 but restrictions on construction after the Second World War meant that work on the college was not completed until 1960. 

The architectural aesthetic of the final design for Nuffield College, in particular the tower and its fleche, has attracted some criticism. Nuffield’s tower is a masonry-clad steel-framed book stack. In the 1960s, it was described as “Oxford’s biggest monument to barren reaction”. The writer Simon Jenkins claimed that “vegetation” was the “best hope” for the tower.

What is it Like to Study at Nuffield College, Oxford?

Rowing at Nuffield is in association with the Linacre College Boat Club. Around a third of Nuffield’s fellows hold appointments at the University of Oxford as lecturers, readers or professors.

Where is Nuffield College?

Nuffield College is located on New Road (OX1 1NF), Oxford. Tel 01865 278500.

Nuffield College Coat of Arms.
Arms: 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. The Crest was slightly moderated and redrawn to simplify the design in Summer 2017.

Can you Visit Nuffield College?

Yes, Nuffield College is open to the public. 

  • Open: Mon – Fri 9.00-17.00.
  • Charge: Free.
  • Groups: Maximum six people in a group. 

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