William Horncastle

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

William Horncastle

Supervisor: Peter Burnham & Stephen Bates

William Horncastle is undertaking comparative research into political finance regulations around the world. His thesis seeks to understand how political finance is regulated across nations, before identifying the factors that influence why divergent approaches are taken. Initially, William applies quantitative methods to a large-n sample, grouping nations based upon similarities in their regulatory structures. Subsequently, his research incorporates four detailed nation-level case studies (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United States). Utilizing archival research methods, William analyses legislative documents to identify barriers to, and facilitators of, reforms in political finance regulation. Throughout the development of his thesis, he has gained further interest in elections and the development of political institutions, which he aims to incorporate into future research projects.

William’s research into 2020 US Election spending has been quoted by ITV News and featured in The Conversation, with further contributions to the LSE US Politics and Policy blog and PSA’s Political Insight magazine.


William Horncastle commenced his research at POLSIS in September 2017. Prior to this, he undertook undergraduate and postgraduate study at the University of Bedfordshire, where his award winning research focussed on corporate criminality and the 2008 Financial Crisis. During his time at POLSIS, he has presented research at several conferences, while also undertaking a Universitas 21 funded visiting fellowship at the University of Melbourne in 2019. He has received further awards and fellowships in recent years, including the Rosamund Davies Memorial Fellowship, to undertake research in the United States.

William has displayed research proficiency by achieving a Postgraduate Certificate in Advanced Research Methods and Skills, while also establishing his teaching credentials as an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. He has previously taught at the University of Bedfordshire and University of Birmingham, with further responsibilities as a Personal Academic Tutor in Birmingham Business School. 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.

Alongside his academic commitments, William has a background in third sector employment, having worked for the global children’s charity World Vision between 2013 and 2019. 


  • 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
  • Political Institutions
  • Electoral Regulations
  • Comparative Politics
  • Research Methods

Teaching Responsibilities

William has gained teaching experience on the following modules:

Research Skills and Methods (level 4)

Foundations in Social Sciences (level 3)

Professional Memberships

  • Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • American Political Studies Association
  • British Association for American Studies
  • UK Political Studies Association

Conference Papers

  • Horncastle, W.C.R. (2020) ‘Patterns of Political Finance: Explaining political finance reforms in liberal democracies’, Research Methods Seminar Series. School of Government, University of Birmingham, 25 March.
  • Horncastle, W.C.R. (2020) ‘Independent Project: The start of an Academic Career’, Graduate Changemakers, University of Bedfordshire. 16 January.
  • Horncastle, W.C.R. (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.C.R. (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, University of Birmingham, 10 October.
  • Horncastle, W.C.R. (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.



Contact details:

Email: WXH723@student.bham.ac.uk

Twitter: https://twitter.com/willhorncastle

Telephone: 07909553394