AI in Oxford: experiments, tools and ways of working

The University’s AI at Oxford campaign is currently exploring the work of our research colleagues around Artificial Intelligence (AI) – whether that’s working on the very foundations of AI tools, addressing the ethical issues of new technologies or using AI to tackle global challenges. 

But research isn’t the only area where AI’s role is increasing at Oxford. Colleagues around the University are working with new tools and considering how best to integrate them into what we do and with our values. This article aims to highlight some of the things that are going on at the moment. These examples are not exhaustive; colleagues across Oxford are regularly looking at new ways to use and experiment with AI in their work. If you’d like to come together around the shared interest, please join the Oxford AI Special Interest Group Teams channel

Teaching and learning 

The University contributed to and has adopted the Russell Group principles on the use of generative AI tools in education. Oxford wants to support students and teaching staff to use AI ethically and appropriately in their work and to regard AI literacy as a key skill. However, AI cannot be seen as a short-cut or replacement of the individual effort needed to acquire the intellectual skills of a university graduate. 

Generative AI is a fast-moving field with new consequential developments being announced regularly. The Reading and Writing Innovation Lab at the Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) continues to monitor the field as it relates to academic practice. In October 2023, it published Beyond ChatGPT: a report on the state of generative AI in academic practice

More recently, the CTL has published An introduction to the use of generative AI tools in teaching in their Oxford Teaching Ideas series. The resource outlines ten ideas for staff on the use of AI to support students in their learning, together with suggested responses for teaching and aligns with relevant University policies. Advice for students will be published on the Study skills and training webpages in 0th week of Hilary term. 


Academics and staff interested in applying artificial intelligence to research or administrative work can contact two Competency Centres, introduced as part of Oxford's Digital Transformation: the Cloud Computing for Research, AI & Machine Learning centre and the Automation & Workflow centre. Both can offer technical consultancy, access to free training and resources and practical examples of how other people across the University are applying AI or machine learning.

Soon, the Research Cloud Centre will have a team of software engineers specialising in supporting research projects interested in applying AI/ML methods. Our centres are also partnering with major vendors such as Microsoft, Amazon and Oracle to provide tailored support, including credits or educational pricing, for implementing AI solutions. 

Ways of working 

The new AI Special Interest Group was set up to give those working on and with AI a forum for discussion and sharing information. Topics of discussion cover AI use across the spectrum, from use in teaching and research to consideration of ethical and regulatory matters. Anyone in the University can join the Oxford AI Special Interest Group Teams channel.

The Digital Transformation team also spoke to Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt for his views on Oxford and AI. You can watch the interviews on the Staff Gateway. Prof Shadbolt explores how AI can make life easier for staff and students, how it can be shared across disciplines, and how universities can use AI ethically and responsibly. 

Staying safe 

Using Generative AI cloud services (like ChatGPT) can be a game-changer by producing texts, software, images, videos and music but they come with potential confidentiality risks. The University’s Information Security team recently produced new guidance – and can also provide advice about the steps to take – before using these services. Read Info Security’s guidance on the use of generative AI tools

Resources to learn more