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Nuffield College, Oxford

Nuffield College, Oxford

About Nuffield College, Oxford

Nuffield College is a graduate college of the University of Oxford dedicated to advanced study and research in the social sciences, particularly economics, politics, and sociology.

In terms of size, it is a relatively small graduate college with about 90 graduate students and about 60 academic fellows (which includes around 20 postdoctoral research fellows).

The college was established in 1937 when the motor manufacturer and philanthropist William Morris, also known as Lord Nuffield, donated land and provided a gift of £900,000 to the University of Oxford. This gift provided the funds to build the college and an endowment to fund its activities.

One of Lord Nuffield’s key ambitions in establishing the college was to create a place of postgraduate study that could enhance cooperation between the academic and non-academic worlds in order to address social, economic and political problems – the aspiration to act as a bridge between the academic and public worlds continues to guide the college’s activities today.

The college was groundbreaking from the moment it was established. It was the first Oxford college to:

  • admit both men and women as students and academics;
  • recruit only graduate students;
  • have a subject specialisation (in the social sciences).

Margery Perham, the historian of African affairs, was appointed as the college’s first Fellow in 1939, but the outbreak of World War II meant that the college’s construction did not begin until 1949.

During the War, the college hosted the Social Reconstruction Survey, which examined issues related to post-War reconstruction. The college admitted its first students in 1945 and received a Royal Charter from the hands of the Duke of Edinburgh on 6 June 1958.

The college has been, and continues to be, the source of 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.

The college counts many different distinguished academics, leaders and political figures among its alumni. Just a few from relatively recent years include Mark Carney – former Governor of the Bank of England, Manmohan Singh – a former Prime Minister of India, Geoffrey Gallop – former Premier of Western Australia and Nicholas Stern – economist and President of the British Academy.

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