Currently studying: Contemporary Russian and East European Studies (The Caucasus and Central Asia) MSc

Previous degrees: LL.B from Lancaster University in 1985 and Diploma in French from the Open University in 1995.

Before studying with CREES, I was a police officer for 30 years. For just over two years (between 2001 and 2003) I was seconded by the British government to act as a police advisor at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. A large part of my work there was connected with countries of the former Soviet Union and since I retired from the police service in 2006 I've been working as a freelance consultant for international organisations such as the Council of Europe, the European Union, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe and for international NGOs such as the Geneva based Association for the Prevention of Torture; again, for much of the time in Russia and other former Soviet countries.

I was attracted to studying with CREES as particularly like the area studies approach, which is not available at many other universities. A major goal is to improve my knowledge and use of the Russian language but also to learn more about the history and politics of the countries that used to be part of the former Soviet Union. I was especially attracted to the possibility of focusing on the Caucasus and Central Asia, as I do a lot of my work in both regions.

I like the fact that the department is not too big, so you're not anonymous and the both the staff and the other students are very friendly and approachable. It's also a very international department, with students from many parts of the world. Some of the staff are from Russia and eastern Europe, which is of course a big plus."

I envisage that studying with CREES will be an immense help to my work in the future; I'll be able to communicate much better than before and with a deeper knowledge of the region’s history and politics, which will be a great help and make me much more effective.

I would advise anyone who is thinking about studying with CREES to come and have a look and a chat and meet the staff; you won’t regret it.