Postgraduate Queries: 'How do I become a police negotiator? And, which are the best courses for learning to speak Arabic?'

Force for good

Q. Last month someone asked about the routes into forensic science. Is it as difficult to get a job as a police negotiator, or are there some general courses I could apply for which would help me into this career?

This is such a specialised job that openings in the UK will be rare and, where they exist at all, highly competitive. That is because few police forces can afford to employ full-time negotiating specialists. The career is more common in the USA, where you might find more openings and opportunities for training, but getting a position is still likely to be very competitive.

An undergraduate background in psychology, sociology or counselling should stand you in good stead. Careers in counselling psychology, for example, require a first degree recognised for Graduate Basis Registration of the British Psychological Society (BPS). However, even if you have little or no experience of the subject, don't fret: plenty of universities offer postgraduate conversion courses aimed at students who have become interested in the subject after their first degree. Visit the careers section of the BPS website at for more details and lists of accredited courses.

A general qualification such as this will not be enough to get you in: you will also need to be a trained police officer with experience of dealing with such situations. Academic study is an increasingly important part of modern policing, and training options can even include fields such as psychology. It depends which local force you join, but many offer specialist training for various roles including hostage negotiating.

If you are keen enough and don't mind the stressful nature of the job, you could try to rise through the ranks as a specialist in this area – but don't be surprised if you have to do your fair share of regular policing to get there.

Contact your local force for details of recruitment and the types of training that they could offer, or visit the police recruitment website at

Arabic ambition

Q. At the moment I only speak English but I'd like to learn Arabic, preferably in a country where it's the native language. Do you know of any good overseas Arabic language courses? Or would I be better off studying in the UK?

If this is to be your first venture into a foreign language, it's hardly the easiest choice. If your main reasons for learning Arabic are social, cultural or recreational, then you don't need a formal qualification: you'll probably find that there are suitable courses at your local university in the extra-mural department, which might also incorporate other aspects of arts and culture that will also interest you.

However, if you need to learn Arabic as a way into a future career, then the support of a recognised qualification will add credibility to your CV. Learn Direct ( lists a number of courses across the UK in all modes of study. If you have your heart set on learning Arabic in a foreign country – usually the best way to become fluent in any language – then an internet search will throw up a plethora of companies keen to accept you. The biggest is probably Language Courses Abroad (, which offers intensive Arabic tuition at its school in Cairo.

Although it's very difficult to gauge the quality of the teaching, it's a good sign if they offer an internationally recognised syllabus or qualification and are willing to tell you the results that they have achieved. Do some careful research, ask questions and try to talk to ex-students: personal recommendation is probably the most reliable way of assessing the quality of these courses.

Thanks to careers consultants Liz Hagger and Mike Cox.

Please send your postgraduate queries to Chris Green at

Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
footballLive! Chelsea vs West Ham kicked off 10 Boxing Day matches, with Arsenal vs QPR closing the action
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Ashdown Group: 1st Line IT Support - Surrey - £24,000

£20000 - £24000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Graduate IT Support Helpd...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Audit Assistant

£19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Audit Graduate Opportunities ar...

Guru Careers: Graduate Marketing Analyst / Online Marketing Exec (SEO / PPC)

£18 - 24k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Marketing Analyst / Online Marketing...

FDM Group: Business and Technical IT Consultants – London, Manchester, Glasgow

21,000-24,000: FDM Group: Kick-start your career and join FDM’s award-winning ...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all