Cyber Security - MSc
Vital to the infrastructure of organisations across the globe, IT systems improve efficiency and productivity, bringing remote teams, clients, partners and suppliers closer together. Yet as technological advances increase, so too do potential threats to user privacy, data protection and service vulnerability. Our MSc in Cyber Security aims to develop and extend the practical skills necessary to design, build, deploy and evaluate cyber security countermeasures.
Month of entry
Mode of study
- Full time
- Computer Science
Fees for 2023 entry
- UK - Full time £10,000 per year.
International - £18,800 per year.
Duration of study
- 1 year
Why study Cyber Security at Keele University?
Cyberspace is now integral to our future security and prosperity: cloud computing, web-based technologies and other technological advances are changing the way we live, work and communicate, transforming critical systems such as finance, energy, food distribution, healthcare and transport.
As more and more businesses, institutions and organisations rely on networks and digital technologies, there is a growing demand for cyber security professionals who can drive innovation and progress, while managing the complex risks that have previously brought hospitals, oil pipelines, schools and businesses to a standstill.
The MSc in Cyber Security prepares you to fully participate in the development of secure internet and web-based systems, and to apply an expert approach to the management and control of such activities, identifying risks, safety and security aspects that may be involved in the deployment of computing systems.
Even if your first degree is in a subject other than Computing, you’ll learn how to master techniques to implement secure IT solutions, which are among the most sought-after skills in industry and business.
Introductory modules are designed to give you a deeper understanding of computer systems, their vulnerabilities and extend your knowledge of programming. You’ll then move on to the principles of cyber security and advanced topics, often informed by our own research in cyber security, such as cloud computing, cryptography and security management.
With 24/7 access to our fully equipped computer laboratories, you’ll also learn how to deploy effectively the tools used for the construction and documentation of computer applications, with a particular emphasis on solving practical problems. You’ll also apply your learning to real-world problems as part of your final assessment, either on an industrial placement or tackling an industry-related problem as part of an MSc project.
By the time you graduate, you’ll have gained the technical knowledge and practical skills necessary to design, build, deploy and evaluate distributed information systems and enterprise applications over the Internet, with a focus on security issues. You could go on to work in threat management and forensics, risk analytics, operations and security management, engineering architecture and design, or policy and strategy.
With a long-standing tradition in teaching Computer Science since 1972, Keele takes pride in being at the forefront of computer science education and research today. The School of Computer Science and Mathematics offers an inclusive, dynamic community of experts with access to world-leading research and cutting-edge areas of industry, such as cloud computing, data mining and web technologies.
Each year, we help students transition into a range of science and non-science related careers, including data science, web development, software engineering and computer science, as well as progression to related PhDs.
Other courses you may be interested in:
Cyber security is now a key skill in a computer scientist’s toolkit to protect systems, networks, and devices from attacks. On this MSc in Cyber Security, you’ll gain a solid introduction to topics including cryptography, human factors of cyber, attack and defence techniques, network security and the design of secure systems.
During the first part of the programme, you will study eight core taught modules (120 credits), developing your knowledge of computer systems and their vulnerabilities, and exploring programming skills, before moving onto more advanced topics in cyber security, cloud computing, and security management.
The second part of the programme gives you freedom to choose between either a ‘traditional’ formal academic project supervised by an academic expert from the School or opt for an industry placement. You’ll be able to discuss with your academic supervisor which type of project or placement is most suitable, based on your performance during the taught modules. Both options will enable you to put in to practice and apply the skills and knowledge learned throughout the course.
With a September start date, this course is studied full-time over one year. To achieve the MSc, you must complete 180 credits. There are two interim awards available, depending on how many modules have been successfully completed: a Postgraduate Certificate for any two modules (60 credits); and a Postgraduate Diploma for all four taught modules (120 credits).
Core Taught Modules
CSC-40044 - System Design & Programming (15 Credits)
This module provides a comprehensive introduction to system design and programming for those who did not graduate from a computer science or related programme. You will be able to develop programs in a major programming language using principles taught on this course. This module covers:
- The principles and practice of system design in the context of an available set of requirements
- Introduction to programming (algorithms, data structures, data storage and manipulation and user interfaces)
- Introduction to object oriented programming
- The development of computer programs using appropriate technology and including accessing data over the internet
- The use of user interfaces to manipulate and display data
CSC-40054 - Data Analytics and Databases (15 Credits)
This module equips you with the knowledge of database operations and a variety of tools and statistical techniques to enable you to make sense of the exponential growth of big data. You will understand big data issues, advanced analytics and statistical modelling techniques and evaluate their applicability for different types of problems.
CSC-40064 - Fundamentals of Computers and Networks (15 Credits)
This module will provide you with an overview of the core concepts of the discipline, and act as a foundation for other modules in the programme. It will enable you to understand the links between different modules on your course, and to understand them in context. The module provides valuable transferable skills in critical thinking and problem solving and the content is applicable to those who are seeking careers in computing research, network security, network management and other digital communication and network areas.
CSC-40104 - Human Factors of Cyber Security (15 Credits)
"Security measures cannot be effective if humans are neither willing nor able to use them" (The Cyber Security Body Of Knowledge, 2019). Since the early 2000's, there has been an increased appreciation of the role that human factors have in the underlying causes of security failures. Security measures are often not adopted because humans are treated as components whose behaviour can be specified through security policies, and controlled through security mechanisms and sanctions. Humans are often described as the ‘weakest link’ in a system but security needs to be usable and acceptable to be effective.
This module, based on the "Human Factors Knowledge Area" of 'The Cyber Security Body Of Knowledge', aims to provide a foundational understanding of the role of human factors in cyber security. This will include an exploration of human strengths and weaknesses, the importance of user research and task analysis (both for security and primary/everyday tasks) and the design of well-fitting security tasks.
It will also cover appropriate strategies and methods for raising security awareness as well as behaviour change within an organisation by education and training e.g. games and simulations. It will also highlight the importance of creating a positive security culture where individuals or groups are encouraged to become more involved in decision-making about security, and being part of delivering it.
CSC-40039 - Cloud Computing (15 Credits)
In recent years many organisations have migrated applications to cloud computing providers. This module explores the underlying technologies, the practical and ethical issues involved, and provides students with the ability to plan design and implement cloud-based solutions to common business problems. Reliability and performance concerns are addressed, together with the crucial issues relating to the security and privacy of data stored and managed remotely. Cloud computing is dominated by global software companies that make claims relating both to the efficacy of their products and compliance with global objectives in environmental impacts. Students will be able to analyse and objectively assess such claims in coming to reasoned and reflective judgements relating to the appropriateness of cloud-based solutions to a range of problem scenarios.
CSC-40046 - Web Technologies and Security (15 Credits)
The module provides an understanding of contemporary web technologies used for both server and client side development of web applications, with particular focus on mobile applications. The module will consider technology and its application as well as a critical evaluation of when and where to apply specific approached. The module will provide an understanding of security aspects of such web and mobile applications and of the defence methods and techniques employed to defend against security threats.
CSC-40120 - Cryptography (15 Credits)
This module will cover the various types of cryptography and the fundamental security goals achieved through the different cryptographic algorithms, protocols and major cryptographic analysis techniques, as well as possible countermeasures for each technique. Significant emphasis is placed on how algorithms are attacked and the characteristics of these attacks that make them effective. You will also cover the properties that an algorithm must have in order to resist such attacks.
CSC-40122 – Cybersecurity (15 Credits)
This module aims to provide you with an understanding of advanced topics in cyber security and explores the key aspects of the different areas of cyber security. You will cover recent and emerging advances in cyber security, including cryptography, encryption, network security and distributed systems security. You will also explore human factors in cyber security and privacy at an advanced level. The module will be assessed with a group project that aims to develop your critical analysis and academic writing skills.
ACADEMIC ENTRY REQUIREMENTS
2:2 undergraduate degree in any subject or an international equivalent.
We will also consider students with equivalent industrial work experience.
ENGLISH LANGUAGE ENTRY REQUIREMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS
IELTS 6.5 with a minimum of 5.5 in each component. The University also accepts a range of internationally recognised English tests.
If you do not meet the English language requirements, the University offers a range of English language preparation programmes.
During your degree programme you can study additional english language courses. This means you can continue to improve your English language skills and gain a higher level of English.
PRE-MASTER'S IN COMPUTING
The Keele University International College offer a one semester Pre-Master's in Computing programme for international students who do not meet the traditional entry requirements for a postgraduate computing degree at Keele University.
Please visit the Keele University International College for more information on how to apply, entry requirements and course details.
Planning your funding
It's important to plan carefully for your funding before you start your course. Please be aware that not all postgraduate courses are eligible for the UK government postgraduate loans and, in this case, you would be expected to source alternative funding yourself. If you need support researching your funding options, please contact our Financial Support Team.
We are committed to rewarding excellence and potential. Please visit our Scholarships and Bursaries webpage for more information.
It has been estimated that there are up to 3.5 million unfulfilled cybersecurity jobs across the world – a number that has increased by a phenomenal 350% between 2013 and 2021 – so the demand for cyber professionals is not set to slow any time soon.
The threat of ransomware attacks, data breacher or major IT outage concerns companies more than business and supply chain disruption, natural disasters or the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the Allianz Risk Barometer 2022, an annual survey identifying the top corporate risks for the upcoming year and beyond.
Informed by feedback from our industrial partners, the technical skills and knowledge developed on this course – in cloud security, application development security, data security, risk management and threat intelligence – have been purposefully designed in response to the priority being given to computer systems security.
As a professional in cyber security, there is a wide range of career opportunities available to you. You may work as an analyst in the private, public or charity sector, protecting your organisation’s IT infrastructure, detecting threats and managing intrusion attempts, as well as alarms and reports. This may also involve team and project management. Alternatively, you could go on to act in a freelance capacity, offering consultancy or advisory services to clients or working in-house for larger businesses.
Essential skills you’ll develop, which are highly valued by employers, include personal drive, prioritising and planning, project management, teamwork, critical thinking, problem solving, evaluating and reflecting upon your experience. These can open up additional careers, for example, teaching within secondary, further or higher education.
Many of the students within our School also choose to remain here at Keele to study a PhD after successfully completing their MSc.
Roles you may find interesting include:
- Application analyst
- Business analyst
- Computer forensics analyst
- Computer programmer
- Computer systems specialist
- Customer service assistant
- Data analyst
- Database administrator
- Engineering manager
- Head of development
- Information systems manager
- IT consultant
- IT developer
- Malware Analyst
- Mobile developer
- Software developer
- System engineer
- Technical consultant
Teaching, learning and assessment
How you'll be taught
The programme is delivered through a variety of learning and teaching activities designed to develop a blend of academic, professional and practical skills. In addition, you’ll have one-on-one meetings with individual academic supervisor, which may take place online or face-to-face.
Formal lectures are used to introduce key concepts, supplemented by smaller group tutorials and practical sessions dependent on the topics being covered in the module. This helps to consolidate your understanding of the material and the practicalities of its application in a modern business environment.
Though there are taught components to the course, we place a strong emphasis on student-led learning and research to help develop your independent research skills and technical skills, with support from teaching staff and technicians. All students are expected to engage in independent study for the duration of the programme and each week we will post digital resources line for you to work through before teaching sessions. Our Virtual Learning Environment gives you online access to a range of digital resources and tools, which includes relevant academic texts via the IEEE Xplore® digital library and eBooks.
You will be taught by experienced, well-qualified staff who are research-active within the discipline, accomplished at working on research-funded projects nationally and internationally, and eager to share their teaching, research and professional experience to help you achieve success in your studies.
Recognising the importance of engaging first-hand with practitioners, where possible, we also invite guest speakers from industry and business to give you a real-life perspective on the topics you’re studying. For example, the Research and Consultancy module has previously featured guest lectures from a small business owner, who discussed their experiences, negative and positive, about working with consultants and other small companies, and a Senior Research Developer from Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
How you'll be assessed
You will complete formal assessment on all modules. The wide variety of assessment methods used on this programme at Keele reflects the broad range of knowledge and skills that are developed as you progress through the degree programme. This includes unseen examinations, class tests and various pieces of coursework, such as programming tasks, implementing a web-based application, presentations and reports (e.g., on data storage and user interaction (UI) design).
When it comes to your final assessment, this varies depending on whether you choose the Industrial Placement or Research Project. For the placement, you will complete a 7,000-word report giving a reflective account of your experience of the organisation and the work carried out during the placement; a 2,000-word reflective diary, which can be in the form of a blog; a presentation to your host company management team; and coursework based on information from your employer. Whereas, for the MSc Project, a dissertation of between 10,000 to 15,000 words in length forms your main assessment. You will also prepare a poster describing your interim progress part way through the project.
The School of Computer Science and Maths has a long, well-established history of industry-focused teaching and internationally recognised research: Mathematics was one of the University’s inaugural subjects back in 1948, while Computing has been taught since 1972, one of the first programmes in the UK.
Our academics specialise in a wide variety of branches of computing and mathematics, including: computational neuroscience; software engineering; evolutionary systems, ML and computational intelligence; fluid dynamics and acoustics; solid dynamics and elasticity; biomechanics and biomedical engineering; pure mathematics; and statistics.
We are known for our focus on data analytics and data modelling, with pioneering work taking place on the interface of computing, mathematics and engineering, notably in relation to smart energy management and optimisation, and metal detection.
Excellent industry links include the British Computer Society (BCS), the Chartered Institute for IT, and we have worked on several collaborative projects with businesses. For example, we developed innovative data mining processes to allow Bentley Motors Ltd, the global automotive company, to exploit the value hidden in the data it owns and collects. We are also members of The Virtual Cuneiform Tablet Reconstruction Project, an international project to support virtual access to artefacts featuring cuneiform, humankind’s earliest writing.
Through the School’s Employment Steering Group, we are fortunate in that a number of companies, both large and small, local and international, are able to provide work placements, guest lectures, project briefs and feedback on the latest industry trends to ensure course content remains relevant and up-to-date up. Membership in 2021/22 includes representatives from Synectics Solutions Ltd, Powelectrics, SSE Enterprise Energy Solutions, Santander, Caja Ltd, and Hildebrand Technology Limited.
Our teaching team includes:
Dr Uchenna Ani (Programme Director), Lecturer – Prior to joining Keele, Uchenna was a Senior Research Fellow in Cybersecurity at the PETRAS National Centre of Excellence for IoT Systems Cybersecurity at the Department of Science Technology Engineering and Public Policy (STEaPP), University College London (UCL). His work is deeply ingrained in multidisciplinary research – exploring and understanding how technical cybersecurity solutions interact with social elements including human, standards, and policy attributes to create safe, secure, practical, and future-proof cyber security and resilient outcomes.
Dr Sandra Woolley, Reader (Computing) – Sandra leads Software and Systems Engineering Research in the School. She is a Fellow of the British Computer Society (FBCS), a Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (SMIEEE) and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA). Sandra originally trained as a graduate engineer with Lucas Aerospace UK before completing a Data Engineering PhD at The University of Manchester, sponsored by both British Gas (Pipeline Inspection) and ICI ImageData. Prior to joining Keele, she lectured at the University of Birmingham and worked as as a researcher at the US-based National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). She has strong multidisciplinary research interests around human-computer interaction (HCI), digital technology and ‘fair digital living’, and she leads and contributes to international multidisciplinary research collaborations.
Professor Ed de Quincey, Senior Lecturer (Computing) – Having previously worked as a Principal Lecturer at the University of Greenwich, and a Researcher at City University, London, Ed joined Keele in 2014. He has worked in the area of online human behaviour for 18 years, looking into the usability and impact of websites, as well as uses of the information that they collect. This has included investigations into the potential of Twitter to detect disease outbreaks and hay fever seasons in the UK, the use of social media by charities, and investigations into the use of other Web 2.0 tools to support e-Learning.
The School of Computer Science and Mathematics was established over 50 years ago and is recognised today as being at the forefront of computer science education and research. Proud holders of the Athena SWAN Bronze Award, we have embedded equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) within both the School and our programmes. We regularly promote events for women studying science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM) subjects, such as the annual BCS Women Lovelace Colloquium, the national conference for undergraduate and MSc women in computing.
Located in the Colin Reeves Building, our facilities currently house seven computer laboratories comprising around 200 desktop PC, accessible 24 hours a day, every day. Every PC has the current hardware and software needed for all modules on our degree programmes and provide both Microsoft Windows and the Linux operating system. Facilities also include a dedicated VR lab, gaming lab, our own Makerspace with 3D printers, a Vicon motion-tracking system, Raspberry PIs, Arduinos and dedicated PCs. We provide various web servers and a cloud computing facility for student use. We also host a high-performance CUDA GPU Supercomputer Cluster for use across campus.
The Overclockers UK Gaming Lab
Based in the Colin Reeves building, this state-of-the-art gaming station laboratory is named after its sponsor, who donated 24 high-spec gaming PCs. These are available for use by students during their lectures and exclusively to Keele Esports Society members in the evenings as a training facility. The Society is open to students who are interested in all aspects of competitive gaming, on both the professional scene and the amateur level.
Central Science Laboratory (CSL)
An entire floor of the University’s £34m Central Science Laboratory (CSL) is fully equipped with PCs featuring all our necessary software and is used for practical lab sessions. CSL opened its doors to students in September 2019 and provides 5,300m2 of modern, co-located science laboratories. Over £2m alone has been spent on industrial research-grade analytical and laboratory equipment that will be used by students in their day-to-day laboratory teaching. Access to state-of-the-art facilities and high specification equipment will ensure you are well prepared for scientific or industrial employment post-graduation. The environment mirrors the multi-faceted nature of working life and the shared space allows group working and collaboration between disciplines, building the skills and experience much valued by employers.
Our unique self-contained campus, with over 600 acres of grounds including forests and lakes, has provided an ideal setting to establish itself as a testbed for real-world teaching, learning and research opportunities as a ‘true Living Lab’. Featured as a national best practice case study in the promotion of sustainability exchange, initiatives such as the SIMULATE (Smart, Infrastructure and Mobility Urban Laboratory and Test Environment) and Smart Energy Network Demonstrator (SEND) projects, contributed to Keele being named Global Sustainability Institution of the Year (International Green Gown Awards, 2020).
SIMULATE, which received funding from the Government’s SMART Place Live Labs initiative, is focused on how to design and maintain a smart highways network, most recently enabling students to trial a fleet of Zwings e-scooters on campus. The £15m SEND programme was the first of its kind in Europe to demonstrate how smart energy technologies can support ‘intelligent’ energy generation, distribution, storage, forecasting and energy balancing. Our researchers have worked with businesses on a range of projects: anomaly detection for Internet of Things applications; use of deep reinforcement learning techniques for a smart energy management system; data analytics solutions for the Industrial Internet of Things; and Digital Twins.
Digital Society Institute
Keele’s new Digital Society Institute is a collaborative research centre focused on data and digital technology that will allow companies in the business, health, and cultural sectors to innovate and expand in a competitive and dynamic business environment. Launching in 2022, the Institute will be based within IC7 and will have access to a Data Visualisation Suite, office space, and hi-tech meeting and collaboration space. The facility, which will enable businesses to keep pace with fast-changing technologies, is expected to support over 400 SMEs over an 18-month period. Specialist equipment it will host includes: a state-of-the-art £330,000 high-performance computing cluster for data-driven research; a new VR/Interaction Laboratory; VR headsets; high-specification computers; a CAVE environment; eye-tracking glasses; 360-degree cameras; a high resolution hand-held 3D scanner; and a 3D printer.