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Postgraduate Queries

Where can I take a course in organic farming? And, how can I qualify as a bereavement counsellor?

Going organic

Q. I'd like to know about postgraduate courses in organic farming. I've been advised to apply to the Scottish Agriculture College, but am interested in England and Wales as well. I have several years' farm and agricultural experience.

A. The organic farming sector has grown significantly in recent years, but I could only find two courses: organic farming at the Scottish Agricultural College and organic agriculture at the University of Wales Aberystwyth.

The Scottish Agricultural College has been running their research programme since 1986 and has its own organic farm. The diploma - the first of its kind in the UK - takes two years' part-time, the MSc a further year. Don't worry if you don't live in Scotland: the course can be taken via online distance learning. You also have to attend three weekends a year at Aberdeen.

Students at the Scottish Agricultural College have backgrounds as farmers, vets or work in the feed or supplies industry. Some have worked on farms; others have small horticultural holdings. The main focus is organic farming in temperate situations (that is, the climate of the UK).

The Aberystwyth course is a postgraduate diploma that can be studied full- or part-time. Its focus is European organic agriculture, and the second semester is taught in Copenhagen, Denmark. Topics include business management, and organic livestock and crop production. You need a good honours degree, although mature students with relevant experience are encouraged to apply.

There are other courses, however, in sustainable agriculture. Although this is a far broader area, it can include organic farming. Coventry University has an MSc by research, aimed at graduates who want a career in industrial research, while Harper Adams University College has a postgraduate certificate, diploma and MSc.

Grief counselling

Q. I have recently completed a diploma in counselling and would like to move on to counselling people who are bereaved. Is there a postgraduate course and what are the entry requirements?

A. You will already have a good understanding of issues of loss from your diploma, so you may be well-qualified to cope with bereavement counselling. There are a few paid counsellors dealing just with bereavement - most handle a range of issues - and they work in the NHS, universities, large companies, Bupa and insurance companies.

If you want further training, there is a one-year part-time postgraduate certificate in counselling studies (bereavement) at the University of Central Lancashire designed for qualified counsellors. You need a diploma in counselling or its equivalent, you must have been qualified for at least six months, be in practice and be undergoing supervision. See www.uclan.ac.uk/courses/ for more details.

Shorter courses are run by the charity Cruse Bereavement Care. The costs vary and you work as an unpaid volunteer for Cruse afterwards - see www.crusebereavementcare.org.uk. You don't need previous counselling experience or qualifications for the basic training. If you want to be a professional counsellor, Cruse can customise training for your needs or those of your company/institution. Typical training covers the process of grief, differences in the type of death experienced and bereavement in a work context.

Other short courses (from a day to 10 weeks) are available, some of which are via distance learning - see www.learndirect.co.uk - but they don't all give you a certificate or qualification. The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, which has a directory of courses, warns that teaching can vary and some institutions simply award certificates of attendance, so check the course before you enrol.

Thanks to: Dr Norman Stephen at SAC, Deborah Fowlis and Irena Jennings, Graduate Prospects advisers

Send your queries to Caitlin Davies at caitlind1@aol.com