History of the College

Founded by Royal Charter in 1960, Churchill College is the national and Commonwealth memorial to Sir Winston Churchill, Britain’s great wartime Prime Minister — the embodiment of his vision for how higher education can benefit society in the modern age.

Today, Churchill College typically has around 485 undergraduates, 390 postgraduates, 245 Fellows and 160 staff with a community that extends to 9800 alumni worldwide.

Thirty-two of its Members have won the Nobel Prize, including one former student. Situated in north-west Cambridge, in the University’s expansion zone, the College occupies a campus of 42 acres (17 hectares), the most extensive consolidated site of any Cambridge college.

Professor Mark Goldie has written a 3 part guide on the history of the College at its founding, this is shown in the links to the side (Origins, Context, The Cultural Revolution).


At its creation, the College was dedicated to three special purposes, to which it remains committed:
  • A focus on science and technology, having a statutory requirement that 70 per cent of its students and academic staff are in the fields of natural or medical sciences, engineering, or mathematics, and which is richly complemented by the 30 per cent dedicated to the arts and humanities.
  • An emphasis on postgraduate education, having a statutory requirement that approximately one-third of its students study for master’s or doctoral degrees.
  • An emphasis on visiting fellowships, having a scheme of Overseas Fellowships and By-Fellowships which has brought hundreds of distinguished scholars to Cambridge from around the world.
Within the first 30 years of existence, the College acquired four further defining characteristics:
  • It was the first men’s College to decide to admit women.
  • It pursued a meritocratic policy in undergraduate admissions, such that about three-quarters of its intake comes from schools in the state sector.
  • It became the home of the Churchill Archives Centre, housing the Founder’s papers, and 600 further collections from the Churchill era and after.
  • It established the Møller Institute for Continuing Education, committed to continuing professional development, and building bridges between academe, business, and the professions.


Bibliography of printed sources on the history of Churchill College used in this page and sub-pages. 


  • John Cockcroft, Churchill College, in Contemporary Physics, Dec 1959.
  • John Cockcroft, Churchill College – A Modern University College, in Science, 23 Oct 1964.
  • N Keith Scott, Churchill College, Cambridge in The Architect and Building News, 9 Sep 1964.
  • Oxbridge Builds, in Interior Design and Contract Furnishing, Sep/Oct 1964.
  • A F W Humphrys, The Origins of Churchill College, printed for private circulation, 1966.
  • Churchill College Chapel: Some Notes by the Architects, Richard Sheppard, Robson and Partners and Canon Duckworth, Chaplain, in Churchbuilding, Oct 1968.
  • Building Revisited: Churchill College, Cambridge, in The Architects’ Journal, 21 July 1971.
  • Peter Carpenter, Churchill and his “Technological” College, in Educational Administration and History, 1986.
  • David Wild and Peter Durant, Simple Sophistication: Henning Larsen in Cambridge [aboutThe Møller Centre], in Architecture Today, Oct 1992.
  • J J Walsh, Postgraduate Technological Education in Britain: Events Leading to the Establishment of Churchill College, Cambridge, 1950-1958, in Minerva 36: 147-177, 1998.
  • Mark Goldie, A History of Churchill College, [Forthcoming].