Goldsworthy was born in Camborne, Cornwall, where her mother was a local teacher. She was educated locally at the St Meriadoc Primary School in Camborne before winning a scholarship to the independent Truro School. She took a gap year between school and starting university in 1997, and in 2000 she graduated from Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge with a BA (Hons) degree, in History. She then spent a year at Daiichi University of Economics in the Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan, and the following year completed a Postgraduate Certificate in Economics at Birkbeck College, London, in 2002.
Between 2002 and 2004 she worked in Westminster as an economics researcher for the Liberal Democrat MP for Truro and St Austell, Matthew Taylor, who represented the seat next to the one she would go on to represent. In 2004, she was appointed as a regeneration officer with the Carrick District Council where she worked until her election to Westminster less than a year later.
She was elected to the House of Commons at the 2005 General Election for Falmouth and Camborne when she ousted the sitting Labour MP Candy Atherton. Goldsworthy won the seat with a majority of 1,886 and made her maiden speech on 19 May 2005. She names former Cornish MP David Penhaligon (1944–1986) as her greatest hero. Her election in 2005 meant that the Liberal Democrats held all the Westminster Parliament seats in Cornwall, for the first time since 1923.
In 2005, she was appointed as a spokesperson on health by Charles Kennedy, and promoted in 2006 by new leader Sir Menzies Campbell as Vince Cable's deputy in the Treasury team. She was also member of the Public Administration Select Committee from 2005 until mid-2006. Julia Goldsworthy was promoted again in December 2007 to become the Liberal Democrat shadow secretary on Communities and Local Government. As an MP, she worked on issues such as the 'Axe the Tax' campaign against council tax, pensions, student tuition fees, health funding formulas and the abolition of central housing targets on local communities.
During her parliamentary career, Goldsworthy also used the social networking website Facebook as a way of gauging the opinions and views of her constituents, and this has led her to campaign for various issues. On 14 May 2008 in the House of Commons debates, she presented a petition on behalf of many thousands of people living in Cornwall who would like to see Cornwall be recognised as a network region on the website. It was announced in December 2009, however, that Facebook will be discontinuing regional networks, and that all present networks will be closed. Goldsworthy is a supporter of the Facebook Cornish Tickbox for the 2011 Census campaign.
The Daily Telegraph showed that in 2006 Goldsworthy bought a "£999 television, £1,500 of furniture in House of Fraser, a £1,111 sofa bed and a £1,200 rocking chair from Heal’s, an upmarket furniture store", as part of moving into an unfurnished flat, but she did not claim the full amount for these items. Between 2005 and 2008 she also regularly claimed £400 per month for food, as many other MPs did at the time, without providing receipts to prove the expenditure. She has responded with a full account of her transactions and a statement that she opposed steps to block the publication of MPs' expenses claims. In February 2010 it was again reported that she repaid £1005 for the "designer pink rocking chair" (this was repaid in June 2009) and £171.32 over-claimed in mortgage interest in 2005-06.
In the 2010 General Election, Goldsworthy stood in the new seat of Camborne and Redruth which she lost by 66 votes (0.16%) to the Conservative challenger George Eustice.
Five years later she stood again for the seat. However, on this occasion, Goldsworthy finished fourth with 5,687 votes. Eustice retained the seat with 18,452 votes to 11,448 to Labour, with UKIP coming third.
Within days of her defeat in the 2010 election, she was named special adviser to Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander.
In 2006, Julia Goldsworthy competed on the Channel 4 show The Games where she was runner-up. She raised £20,000 for the Cornish Air Ambulance. She competed in swimming, hurdles, hammer, curling, track cycling, sprint and kayak slalom. In parliament, she was the chairwoman of the all-party rowing group; she rows in a Cornish pilot gig.
She was married to Christopher Church on 19 May 2012 in Camborne Parish Church.