William Horncastle

Patterns of Political Finance: Explaining Political Finance reforms in liberal democracies

William Horncastle

Supervisor: Peter Burnham & Stephen Bates

William Horncastle is undertaking doctoral research into political finance regulations around the world. By applying quantitative methods to a large-n sample, his research aims to classify political finance systems into a multidimensional typology. Subsequently, he will be undertaking four detailed nation-level case studies, utilizing elite interviewing and archival research to explain why regulations develop differently across a variety of contexts. Having undertaken a visiting fellowship at the University of Melbourne in 2019, William will be visiting Washington DC and Ottawa in June 2020 for data collection.


William Horncastle began studying at the University of Bedfordshire in 2012, undertaking a degree in Criminology. In 2015, he graduated with First Class honours, gaining the 'Gill Blowers' prize for the best departmental dissertation in the process. He commenced his Masters degree in Criminology at the University of Bedfordshire in the same year, gaining the Jubilee scholarship as a result of his success at undergraduate level. His previous research at the University of Bedfordshire was based on the legal and political responses to the Financial Crisis of 2008 in the United States. Since commencing PhD study at the University of Birmingham, William has been awarded a number of awards and scholarships, including a Universitas 21 Fellowship and the 2019 ‘Rosamund Davies Travel Fellowship’ from the Political Studies Association’s American Politics Group.


  • University of Birmingham – Postgraduate Certificate in Advanced Research Methods and Skills
  • University of Bedfordshire – MA Criminology (Distinction)
  • University of Bedfordshire – BA (Hons) Criminology (1st Class)

Research interests

  • Political Finance, Electoral Regulations, Comparative Politics, Political Institutions

Other activities 

William Horncastle has a background with NGOs in the charity sector, having worked for the global children's charity World Vision between 2013 and 2019. He has gained teaching experience at two UKHE institutions, returning to the University of Bedfordshire in 2017 to give a series of seminars on the first-year undergraduate module, ‘Foundations in the Social Sciences’, before seminar teaching on the ‘Research Methods and Skills’ module at the University of Birmingham for the duration of the 2019/2020 academic year. He has also gained mentoring experience, acting as a Personal Academic Mentor for 30 MSc students in the 2018/2019 academic year. William is a member of the Political Studies Association, volunteering as the POLSIS Departmental Representative for the PSA’s Early Career Network for the 2018/2019 academic year.

In December 2019, William’s work was shortlisted as part of the University of Birmingham’s ‘Images of Research’ competition. The catalogue can be viewed here: https://intranet.birmingham.ac.uk/as/studentservices/graduateschool/documents/public/IoR-2019/Images-of-Research-2019-Voting-Dec.pdf


Horncastle. W. (2019) Measurement Tools for Comparative Political Finance: Excessive Reductionism or Valuable Simplicity? The Electoral Regulation Research Network and Democratic Audit of Australia Working Paper Series No. 54. Available at: https://law.unimelb.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/3068502/WP54_Horncastle.pdf  

Horncastle, W. (2019) ‘Comparative political finance: Towards a unified approach for measuring and categorising political finance systems’, Making Sense of Contemporary Politics. PSA Early Careers Network, University of Exeter, 24 June.

Horncastle, W. (2018) ‘Assessing the current state of the Left in the UK: how did we get here and what does the future hold?’, The Future of the Left in the UK and Germany Symposium. Institute for German Studies, University of Birmingham, 10 October.

Horncastle, W. (2018) ‘Marx’s Renaissance: Explaining the Growth of the Left in the UK and Beyond’, Political Insight, 9 (3) p.26-29. Available at: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2041905818796575

Horncastle, W. (2018) ‘Neoliberalism, Political Finance, and Inequality: A mixed-methods investigation into the relationship between political finance regulation and income inequality’, A Platform for the Researchers of Tomorrow. Westmere House, University of Birmingham, 15 March.

Horncastle, W. (2017) ‘The Blurring Boundaries of Political Spending’, The Socialist Standard, 116 (1349) p.5, Available at: https://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/sites/default/files/Socialist%20Standard%20January%202017.pdf

Horncastle, W. (2016) ‘Book Review – Torture: Does it Work?’, The Socialist Standard, 115 (1348) pp.3-4, Available at: https://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/printpdf/book/export/html/21137

Horncastle, W. (2016) ‘Terrorism and War: Is There Any Difference?’, The Socialist Standard, 113 (1346) p.14, Available at: https://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/printpdf/book/export/html/20552


Contact details:

Email: WXH723@student.bham.ac.uk
Telephone: 07909553394