Dr Tom Farnhill

Dr Tom Farnhill

Department of Social Policy, Sociology and Criminology
Lecturer in Social Policy

Contact details

School of Social Policy
Muirhead Tower
University of Birmingham
Birmingham B15 2TT

Before developing a teaching and research career in higher education Dr Farnhill was a HR practitioner and full-time trade union officer. He is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and his research interests include public policymaking, trade unionism and employee relations, and corporate political activity.


  • PhD in Politics, University of York, 2013
  • MA in Public Policy and Administration, University of York, 2009
  • BSc (Hons) in Politics and Social Policy, Open University, 2004


Before joining the University of Birmingham Dr Farnhill taught at Aston University, Sheffield International College and the University of York Management School. Between 2010 and 2013 he was employed by the trade union Prospect to help them establish an international development campaigning, bargaining and organising agenda with a range of public and private sector employers. Before seeking a career in higher education he was an Employee Relations Officer in the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and, before this, a full-time official for the UK’s largest civil service trade union. He lives in Birmingham and when not at work enjoys watching old movies; reading, collecting and writing comics; and playing blues harmonica (very badly).


  • Social Policy, Welfare and Society
  • Philosophies of Welfare
  • Policy Analysis

Doctoral research

PhD title
‘Green No More? The Coming-of-Age of UK Trade Unions’ Environmental Agenda 1967-2011’


Dr Farnhill’s research interests are centred on UK trade unionism and union renewal. He is especially interested in social unionism and in evaluating the efficacy of non-traditional agendas as vehicles for union renewal (and their behaviour as employee relations negotiables).  Dr Farnhill is currently also researching UK businesses’ corporate political activity; seeking to understand the patterning, content and conduct of lobbying in the UK.


Kone, M.Z. and Farnhill, T. (2019) ‘Invisible, Unfettered and Predictable—The Patterning of Corporate Political Activity in the UK’, Open Journal of Business and Management , 7, 1779-1802.  https://doi.org/10.4236/ojbm.2019.74123

Farnhill, T. (2018) Union Renewal and Workplace Greening — Three Case Studies, British Journal of Industrial Relations

Farnhill, T. (2016) The Characteristics of UK Unions' Environmental Activism, Global Labour Journal, 7 (3) https://doi.org/10.15173/glj.v7i3.2536

Farnhill, T. (2016) A small-N cross-sectional study of British unions’ environmental attitudes and activism – and the prospect of a green-led renewal’, Cogent Social Sciences, 2 (1) https://doi.org/10.1080/23311886.2015.1132516

Farnhill, T. (2014) Understanding the Labour-Environmental Relationship in Britain 1967-2011 – a new narrative using political opportunity structure and coalition theory, Labour History, 55 (4) https://doi.org/10.1080/0023656X.2014.932513

Farnhill, T. (2014) Environmental policymaking at the Trades Union Congress 1967-2011, Capitalism, Nature, Socialism, 25 (1) pp. 72-95. https://doi.org/10.1080/10455752.2013.879196

Farnhill, T., L. Le Thuy and D.T. Greer (2014) Identity and communicative competence: Vietnamese students’ L2 experiences in the UK, in Chowdhury, R and R. Marlina (eds) Enacting English Across Borders: Critical Studies in the Asia-Pacific, Newcastle upon Tyne: CSP

Farnhill, T. and Hall, B. (2011) A World of Difference: A Contribution to the Millennium Development Goals, London: Prospect.

Farnhill, T. (2008) UK Trade Unions, Lifelong Learning and the UK Skills ‘Crisis’ – Modernisation, Incorporation or Desperation? Union Ideas, Cardiff: Cardiff University.