MSc Cyber Security
Information about all aspects of life is now routinely stored and transmitted electronically, and ensuring security of a vast and complex online infrastructure is an ongoing and ever-increasing challenge.
Our MSc Cyber Security is about designing systems that resist attack. As computers and IT systems become ever more prevalent and ever more connected with each other, the opportunities for attackers become even greater, and the need to resist them becomes more urgent. Computing infrastructure is now vital for communication, government, commerce, and control of our physical environment, and is a potential target of terrorist and criminal attacks. Graduates who understand the technologies that underpin products and practices to secure it will be in great demand.
The MSc intends to equip students to engage with complex, challenging problems and real-world issues, teaching students the intellectual and technical skills they need to deal with current and future cyber security threats. The degree programme considers all the layers at which security must be considered, from low-level attacks on hardware and software implementations, through to more abstract design principles underlying secure systems, to strategies for management of processes and people.
This is a one-year full-time degree programme for graduates in a computing-related discipline, taught by leading academics. It will allow students to obtain the knowledge and expertise to evaluate, design and build secure computer systems, processes and people that are involved in cyber security. It covers the theory and practice of designing and building secure systems and gives you a firm grounding in cryptography, network security and secure programming, as well as optional modules in topics such as hardware and embedded system security, operating systems and incident management and forensics. The programme also gives you practical experience with technologies and toolkits for building internet-based software.
Provisional GCHQ Accreditation
The University has been officially established as an Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research by the UK government. This is an exciting development for us and this accolade is a testament to the first rate research and work taking place in the Security and Privacy group. The MSc Cyber Security programme has received full GCHQ accreditation. Students who wish to study the GCHQ pathway should take all compulsory modules as well as the specific options listed below.
The Security and Privacy Research Group
Our Security and Privacy Group, led by Professor Mark Ryan, is a team of eleven academic staff based in the School of Computer Science at the University of Birmingham. For over a decade, the group has remained committed to its ethos of tackling cyber security problems that are important to society, and our research feeds heavily into our teaching. Find out more, and keep up to date with what we're doing.
All students studying the MSc Cyber Security undertake compulsory modules, and can choose from a variety of optional subjects (some modules are specific to the GCHQ certified pathway option.) Our students also undertake a large, personally supervised project in the final months of the course.
- Anonymity, Privacy and Cybercrime
- Designing Secure Systems
- Network Security
- Secure Programming
- Secure System Management
- Compilers and Languages (Extended)
- Hardware & Embedded Systems Security (compulsory for GCHQ certified pathway)
- Incident Management and Forensics (compulsory for GCHQ certified pathway)
- Individual Study 2
- Networks (Extended)
- Operating Systems (Extended)
- Penetration Testing (compulsory for GCHQ certified pathway)
- Security Research Seminar
Our curriculum has been developed with the involvement of key individuals in the cyber security industry. As well as advising us on the skills they seek when recruiting graduates, they also contribute directly to the MSc programme through guest lectures and project supervision. In recent years, we have welcomed speakers from Microsoft, Vodafone, Siemens, IBM and Hewlett Packard to talk directly to our students.
The MSc in Cyber Security is a new programme, but graduates of the previous MSc in Computer Security have gone on to work for companies including Accenture, IBM, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, BT and Delcam.
Our students gain the knowledge to become leaders in the field of cyber security and to shape the technologies that will be developed in the future. They are equipped to work on secure software development within the software and IT industry, or to become cyber security consultants. They may also choose to move on to PhD research.
The minimum entry requirement for this MSc is an upper second-class degree in Computer Science or a closely related discipline, and a solid foundation in programming and knowledge of data structures and algorithms. In particular, knowledge of object-oriented programming will be a strong asset.
The University of Birmingham receives a limited number of bursaries from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport as part of a National Cyber Security Programme project to encourage people into the cyber security profession. The funding covers tuition fees for the GCHQ-certified pathway on our MSc Cyber Security.
- UK or EU citizen normally resident in the UK (other than for education)
- Not applying for the MSc Cyber Security straight from an UG degree
- Have not been previously employed as a cyber security professional
Additionally, the bursaries are particularly aimed at the following:
- Persons looking to retrain, e.g. return-to-work, mid-career transition or currently unemployed
- Ex-armed forces or ex-police officers
- General IT practitioners looking to specialise
- Demographics currently underrepresented in cyber security
How to Apply
Applications for all Computer Science MSc programmes are made directly to the University of Birmingham. For full details on how to apply and what supporting documents are required, please click here.
If you are applying to us from outside the UK you can acess information about the experiences of fellow students, studying in a different country and check degree comparability here. You may also need to provide evidence of English language proficiency, but can find out further information here.
Please see our Postgraduate Computer Science Brochure for further information.
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