Cyber Security - MSc

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Overview

On this UK government’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) fully certified programme, you learn the essential skills to support cyber security within commercial and government organisations. This includes the technical side of encryption, authentication, biometrics, network security, etc as well as information security management and cyber security risk.

This MSc is aimed at computing graduates with strong programming skills seeking careers as cyber security professionals or careers that need a systematic and deep understanding of the subject. It would also be an excellent starting point for those wishing to carry out further research in cyber security. Taught Master’s programmes are available with an optional industrial placement.

About the School of Computing

Our world-leading researchers, in key areas such as cyber securityprogramming languagescomputational intelligence and data science, earned us an outstanding result in the recent Research Excellence Framework (REF). Our submission was ranked 12th in the UK for research intensity, with an impressive 98% of our research judged to be of international quality.

Strong links with industry underpin all our work, notably with Cisco Systems Inc, Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, Nvidia, Erlang Solutions, GCHQ and Google.

Our programmes are taught by leading researchers who are experts in their fields. The School of Computing at Kent is home to several authors of leading computer science textbooks. Kent was awarded gold, the highest rating, in the UK Government’s Teaching Excellence Framework*.

While studying with us, you can gain work experience through an industrial placement. Our dedicated placement team can help you gain a suitable paid position and provide support throughout your placement. 

We have a large range of equipment providing both Linux and PC-based systems. Our resources include a multicore enterprise server and a virtual machine server that supports computer security experiments. 

The School also has a makerspace, The Shed, which offers exciting teaching and collaboration opportunities. Among other equipment it contains a milling machine, 3D printers, laser cutter and extensive space for building and making digital artefacts.

Think Kent video series

This talk describes why identity theft is so easy to enact today over the Internet, and how it can be prevented by utilising the latest research in verifiable credentials.

*The University of Kent's Statement of Findings can be found here

Student profiles

I spent a year working as a Software Engineering intern for Cisco in San Jose, California.

Entry requirements

A first, 2.1 or good 2.2 honours degree (or equivalent) in computing or a related subject with a strong background in programming.

All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, professional qualifications and relevant experience may also be taken into account when considering applications. 

International students

Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information. Due to visa restrictions, students who require a student visa to study cannot study part-time unless undertaking a distance or blended-learning programme with no on-campus provision.

English language entry requirements

The University requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree. Certain subjects require a higher level.

For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages. 

Need help with English?

Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.

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Course structure

Duration: 1 year full-time

Each of our taught MSc courses is available in several formats to accommodate students from different backgrounds and to provide maximum flexibility. See more about Taught Master's course formats.

Modules

The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This list is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.  Most programmes will require you to study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also have the option to take modules from other programmes so that you may customise your programme and explore other subject areas that interest you.

Compulsory modules currently include

Students spend a period working in an industrial or commercial setting, applying and enhancing the skills and techniques they have developed and studied earlier during their MSc programme. The work is undertaken under the direction of their industrial supervisor, but support is provided via a dedicated Placement Support Officer with the School. This support includes ensuring that the work they are being expected to do is such that they can meet the learning outcomes of the module.

Find out more about CO902

Fundamentals of Image Processing

General introduction to digital image processing; image acquisition, quantisation and representation; Affine transforms; image enhancement techniques: contrast manipulation, binarisation, noise removal (spatial and frequency domain); edge detection techniques; image segmentation: edge-based, region- based, watershed; Hough transform; image feature extraction; advanced image processing: morphological operations, colour image processing, various image transforms (Fourier, wavelet, etc).

Fundamentals of Pattern Recognition

Patterns and pattern classification, and the role of classification in a variety of application scenarios, including security and biometrics. Basic concepts: pattern descriptors, pattern classes; invariance and normalisation. Feature-based analysis. Texture analysis. The classification problem and formal approaches. Basic decision theory and the Bayesian classifier. Cost and risk and their relationship; rejection margin and error-rate trade-off. Canonical forms of classifier description. Estimation of class- conditional distributions; bivariate and multivariate analysis. Euclidean and Mahalanobis distance metrics and minimum distance classifiers. Parametric and non-parametric classification strategies. Linear discriminant analysis. Clustering approaches, and relationship between classifier realisations. Practical case studies. Introduction to non-classical techniques such as neural network classification.

Security Applications and Image Analysis

Signature authentication and analysis, Digital watermarking, Content hidden in Images and Video, Steganography. Image forensics.

Implementation Essentials

Programming and data analysis using MatLab and other software tools as appropriate. Introduction to practical work using MatLab. Students not familiar with Matlab programming will be provided with appropriate introductory material before this lecture.

Find out more about EL844

This module investigates the whole process of security management and associated activities such as privacy and trust management. A holistic view of security management is taken, including risk management, the formulation of security policies, business continuity and resilience.

Technical subjects include a description of the various security models, and showing how authorisation policies can be automatically enforced. There is also an emphasis on trust and reputation in systems. The legal and privacy issues associated with information management are also addressed, as are the usability issues of security technologies.

Find out more about CO834

The module will explore existing and emerging legal issues in cyber security, cybercrime, privacy and data protection, including the domestic and cross-boundary legal regulatory frames and their associated ethical dimensions. Topics covered include cybercrime, privacy and data protection, Internet and cyber surveillance, cross-border information flows, and legal structures. Students will be challenged to critically examine the ethics and management of cyber data. It will require students to assess emerging legal, regulatory, privacy and data protection issues raised by access to personal information.

Find out more about CO841

Introduction, including a review of network techniques, switching and multiple access. High speed local area networks. Network protocols, including data link, network, transport and application layers and their security issues. Problems of network security and mechanisms used to provide security such as firewalls. Real time data transmission and quality of service. Naming and addressing. Security of IEEE 802.11 networks. Recent developments: topics will change from year to year

Find out more about CO874

• A general introduction to networks and networking protocols, especially TCP/IP.

• Overview of important Internet application protocols: HTTP, SMTP, DNS, LDAP.

• A study of cryptographic algorithms including symmetric and asymmetric techniques and the distinction between encryption and signatures.

• Security mechanisms used with operating systems, including: usernames/passwords, access control lists and capabilities.

• Problems of network security including wiretap, replay, masquerade and denial of service. Mechanisms to provide security such as firewalls and VPNs.

• Viruses and worms.

• Distributed Mechanisms, including client authentication (Needham-Schroeder, Kerberos and others); public key infrastructures and certification, with treatment of chains and authority, and the problem of revocation.

• Securing email systems: PGP and S/MIME

• Identity management systems: e.g. Shibboleth, Passport, CardSpace, OpenID.

• Basic introduction to information risk management and information security management.

• Security of IEEE 802.11 networks (aka Wi-Fi), presentation and discussion of their security protocols: WEP, WPA, WPA2, IEEE 802.11i and RSN.

Find out more about CO876

The project consists of an extended period during which students work on a specific piece of project work and a report on this work in the form of a dissertation. Project work, particularly with a development focus, may be undertaken in groups. However, the dissertations are produced individually. The project examines the student's ability to research the literature, to understand and expand on a specific problem commensurate with their programme of study and relate it to other work, to carry out investigations and development, as appropriate, and describe results and draw conclusions from them and to write a coherent and well organised dissertation demonstrating the student's individual reflection and achieved learning.

Find out more about CO880

The crowning piece of most Masters degrees is the Masters Project in which you apply a wide range of skills learned in the taught modules to an interesting research problem or practical application of your choice. The Project Research module provides useful transferable skills for doing the project, and supports you in some preparatory tasks such as literature study and project planning.

Find out more about CO885

Email security issues: spam and phishing attacks; spam filtering systems. Spyware: system vulnerabilities; stealth techniques; detection and removal. Web based user tracking and adware. Network security and cybercrime. Data breaches and data loss prevention. Network forensics, network monitoring and packet analysis. Security of WiFi networks.

Find out more about CO892

The module looks at federated identity management, privacy protection, viruses and worms, hacking, secure architectures, formal verification methods, e-mail security, secure software development methods and tools.

Find out more about CO899

Optional modules may include

Students spend a period working in an industrial or commercial setting, applying and enhancing the skills and techniques they have developed and studied earlier during their MSc programme. The work is undertaken under the direction of their industrial supervisor, but support is provided via a dedicated Placement Support Officer with the School. This support includes ensuring that the work they are being expected to do is such that they can meet the learning outcomes of the module.

Find out more about CO915

Students spend a period working in an industrial or commercial setting, applying and enhancing the skills and techniques they have developed and studied earlier during their MSc programme. The work is undertaken under the direction of their industrial supervisor, but support is provided via a dedicated Placement Support Officer with the School. This support includes ensuring that the work they are being expected to do is such that they can meet the learning outcomes of the module.

Find out more about CO916

Students spend a period working in an industrial or commercial setting, applying and enhancing the skills and techniques they have developed and studied earlier during their MSc programme. The work is undertaken under the direction of their industrial supervisor, but support is provided via a dedicated Placement Support Officer with the School. This support includes ensuring that the work they are being expected to do is such that they can meet the learning outcomes of the module.

Find out more about CO917

Students spend a period working in an industrial or commercial setting, applying and enhancing the skills and techniques they have developed and studied earlier during their MSc programme. The work is undertaken under the direction of their industrial supervisor, but support is provided via a dedicated Placement Support Officer with the School. This support includes ensuring that the work they are being expected to do is such that they can meet the learning outcomes of the module.

Find out more about CO918

Teaching and assessment

Assessment is through a combination of unseen written examinations, written and practical coursework, student presentations, individual and group projects.

The substantial research or development project undertaken for other programmes is assessed by dissertation.

Programme aims

This programme aims to:

  • enhance the career prospects of graduates seeking employment in the computing/IT sector
  • prepare you for research and/or professional practice at the forefront of the discipline
  • develop an integrated and critically aware understanding of one or more areas of computing/IT and their applications (according to your degree title)
  • develop a variety of advanced intellectual and transferable skills
  • equip you with the lifelong learning skills necessary to keep abreast of future developments in the field.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • how to engineer software systems that satisfy the needs of customers, using a state-of-the art methodology and an industrially-relevant programming language
  • a broad variety of advanced topics relating to computing/IT (the specific topics will depend on the optional modules you chose and may vary from year to year in response to developments in the field, staff changes etc)
  • the specification, design and implementation of software systems for a variety of platforms and across a range of application domains
  • security vulnerabilities of computer systems and networks and the countermeasures used to address them
  • the motivation, design, operation and management of modern systems for encryption, authentication and authorisation, including quality of service issues.
  • professional, legal, social, cultural and ethical issues related to the chosen field of computing.

Intellectual skills

You develop intellectual skills in:

  • the ability to identify, analyse and formulate criteria and specifications appropriate to a given problem
  • the ability to model problems and their solutions with an awareness of any tradeoffs involved
  • the ability to evaluate systems, processes or methodologies in terms of general quality attributes and possible tradeoffs
  • the ability to deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively
  • the ability to work with self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems
  • the ability to make sound judgements in the absence of complete data
  • the ability to review a research paper or technical report critically and to present your findings to a group of peers
  • the ability to plan and execute a substantial research or development-based project and to report the work in the form of a dissertation.

Subject-specific skills

You gain subject-specific skills in:

  • the ability to specify, design, implement and test computer-based systems
  • the ability to deploy effectively the tools used for the construction and documentation of software
  • the ability to undertake practical work that explores techniques covered in the programme and to analyse and comment on the findings.

Transferable skills

You gain the following transferable skills:

  • the ability to plan, work and study independently and to use relevant resources in a manner that reflects good practice
  • the ability to make effective use of general IT facilities, including information retrieval skills
  • time management and organisational skills, including the ability to manage your own learning and development
  • an appreciation of the importance of continued professional development as part of lifelong learning
  • the ability to work effectively as a member of a team
  • the ability to communicate technical issues clearly to specialist and nonspecialists
  • the ability to present ideas, arguments and results in the form of a well-structured written report
  • the ability to act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at professional or equivalent level.

Fees

The 2021/22 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

Cyber Security with an Industrial Placement - MSc at Canterbury

  • Home full-time £9100
  • International full-time £20500

Cyber Security - MSc at Canterbury

  • Home full-time £9100
  • International full-time £20500

For details of when and how to pay fees and charges, please see our Student Finance Guide.

For students continuing on this programme fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact information@kent.ac.uk.

EU students

Kent is supporting its EU students as the UK leaves the EU with a special EU fee offered for students joining in 2021 for the duration of their programmes. EU, other EEA and Swiss nationals will no longer be eligible for home fee status, undergraduate, postgraduate and advanced learner financial support from Student Finance England for courses starting in academic year 2021/22. It will not affect students starting courses in academic year 2020/21, nor those EU, other EEA and Swiss nationals benefitting from Citizens’ Rights under the EU Withdrawal Agreement, EEA EFTA Separation Agreement or Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement respectively. It will also not apply to Irish nationals living in the UK and Ireland whose right to study and to access benefits and services will be preserved on a reciprocal basis for UK and Irish nationals under the Common Travel Area arrangement.

Your fee status

The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from UKCISA before applying.


Additional costs

General additional costs

Find out more about general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent. 

Funding

Search our scholarships finder for possible funding opportunities. You may find it helpful to look at both:

The Complete University Guide

In The Complete University Guide 2020, the University of Kent was ranked in the top 10 for research intensity. This is a measure of the proportion of staff involved in high-quality research in the university.

Please see the University League Tables 2021 for more information.

Independent rankings

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, research by the School of Computing was ranked 12th in the UK for research intensity.

An impressive 98% of our research was judged to be of international quality, with 81% of this judged world-leading or internationally excellent. The School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of research of international excellence.

Research areas

Cyber Security Research Group

Security - of information, systems, and communications - has become a central issue in our society. Interaction between people's personal devices (far beyond just phones and computers) and the rest of the connected world is nearly continuous; and with the advent of the Internet Of Things its scope will only grow.

In that context, so much can go wrong - every communication can potentially be intercepted, modified, or spoofed, and surreptitiously obtained data can be commercially exploited or used for privacy invasions. In fact, data flows in society are such that many people already feel they have lost control over where (their) data goes.

The cyber security research group operates within that context. All members bring a particular technological emphasis - the analysis of particular classes of security problems or their solutions - but are fully aware that it all fits within a wider context of people using systems and communicating data in secure and insecure ways, and how external pressures beyond the mere technology impact on that. The topic of computer security then naturally widens to include topics like privacy, cyber crime, and ethics and law relating to computing, as well as bringing in aspects of psychology, sociology and economics.

From that perspective, the Cyber Security research group played a key role in setting up, and continues to be a core contributor to, the University's Interdisciplinary Cyber Security Research Centre, see www.cybersecurity.kent.ac.uk. The centre achieved EPSRC/GCHQ accreditation as an Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research (ACE-CSR) from 2015-2017 and 2018-2022.

The group has a strong involvement with postgraduate teaching in this area. It teaches most of the core modules in MSc programmes in Computer Security, and Networks and Security. A new (from September 2017) MSc Course in Cyber Security has been provisionally certified by GCHQ. The group is also involved in undergraduate modules in this area, as well as postgraduate programmes in other schools such as the MSc Information Security and Biometrics, and in UK activities to define curricula in Cyber Security.

Areas of Research Activity

Members are engaged in the following areas of research (research areas in more detail) .

  • Data Ethics and Privacy
  • Authorisation Infrastructures
  • Cybercrime
  • Internet Of Things Security and Privacy
  • Authentication
  • Quantum Computation and Information, with Security Applications 
  • Formal Methods for Cryptography
  • Steganography and Steganalysis
  • Trust Management and Metrics and Reputation Systems
  • Tools for Vulnerability Analysis
  • Self-Adaptation applied to Security and Privacy
  • Cloud Security
  • Human Aspects of Security
  • Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technology
  • Identity Management

Programming Languages and Systems Group

Our research involves all aspects of programming languages and systems, from fundamental theory to practical implementation. The Group has interests across a wide range of programming paradigms: object-oriented, concurrent, functional and logic. We research the links between logic and programming languages, the verification of the correctness of programs, and develop tools for refactoring, tracing and testing. We are interested in incorporating safe concurrent programming practices into language design.

The Group is also interested in practical implementation of programming languages, from massively concurrent parallel processing to batteryoperated mobile systems. Particular research topics include lightweight multi-threading kernels, highly concurrent operating systems, memory managers and garbage collectors.

Research areas include:

  • theoretical and architectural questions concerning designs for both hardware and software
  • abstractions and implementations of concurrency in programming languages
  • formal specification of systems and their architecture
  • design patterns and tools for enabling the safe and scalable exploitation of concurrency
  • compilers, memory managers and garbage collectors
  • lightweight multi-threading kernels and highly concurrent operating systems • refactoring of functional and concurrent languages
  • applications of formal methods to provably correct, secure systems
  • model checking and abstract interpretation, including applications to discovering security vulnerabilities
  • program verification and theorem proving

Computational Intelligence Group

This Group brings together interdisciplinary researchers investigating the interface between computer science and the domains of bioscience and cognition. In terms of applying computation to other domains, we have experts in investigating the modelling of gene expression and modelling of human attention, emotions and reasoning. From the perspective of applying biological metaphors to computation, we research new computational methods such as genetic algorithms and swarm intelligence.

The Group also develops novel techniques for data mining, visualisation and simulation. These use the results of interdisciplinary research for finding solutions to computationally expensive problems.

The Group has strong links with other schools at the University of Kent, as well as with universities, hospitals and scientific research institutes throughout the country and internationally.

Areas of research activity within the group include:

  • bio-inspired computing including neural networks, evolutionary
  • computing and swarm intelligence
  • application of computational simulations in biology and medicine
  • systems biology including gene expression modelling
  • theory and application of diagrammatic visualisation methods
  • data mining and knowledge discovery
  • construction of computational models of the human cognitive and neural system.

Data Science Research Group

Data Science is about developing new techniques to better understand data and draws on many areas within and outside of computer science. Our research group develops and applies methods to interpret rich information sources.Our research comes under three themes:

eHealth

  • Dr Caroline Li gathers and analyses EEG data for the study of seasonal affective disorder.
  • Dr Palani Ramaswamy has worked on biological signal analysis, brain-computer interfaces and biometrics. He has applied machine learning techniques to these and other fields.

    Systems

    • Dr Fernando Otero, Professor Alex Frietas and  Dr Matteo Migliavacca, have developed new search-based approaches to computation, such as ant colony optimisation methods for predicting protein function.
    • Professor Frank Wang has shown that memristors can provide a radically new way to construct neural networks. In addition he has developed models of cloud computing for big data.

    Careers

    Our programmes of study are designed to equip our graduates with the skills and knowledge that make them highly attractive to potential employers, providing a good balance between theoretical studies and real-life applications. The recent REF indicated that the School's research was in the top quartile of 89 Computing departments across the UK. Our graduates therefore benefit from a first-rate academic experience as well as being prepared to face the demands of the economic environment. 

    Graduate destinations

    Our graduates have gone on to work in:

    • software engineering
    • mobile applications development
    • systems analysis
    • consultancy
    • networking
    • web design and e-commerce
    • finance and insurance
    • commerce
    • engineering
    • education
    • government
    • healthcare. 

    Recent graduates have gone on to develop successful careers at leading companies such as:

    • BAE Systems
    • Cisco 
    • IBM
    • The Walt Disney Company
    • Citigroup 
    • BT.

    Help finding a job

    The University has a friendly Careers and Employability Service, which can give you advice on how to:

    • apply for jobs
    • write a good CV
    • perform well in interviews.

    Industrial placements

    You can gain practical work experience as part of your degree through our industrial placements scheme  - we have a dedicated Placement Team who can give advice and guidance.  All our placements are in paid roles.

    In previous years, students have worked at a wide range of large and small organisations, including well-known names such as:

    • Accenture
    • BT
    • GSK
    • IBM
    • Kent Police
    • Microsoft
    • Morgan Stanley
    • The Walt Disney Company.

    You can take your work placement abroad. Previous destinations include Hong Kong and the USA.

    An industrial placement gives you invaluable workplace experience, which greatly enhances your employment prospects and also helps put your academic learning into a real-world context.

    Study support

    We provide an extensive support framework for our research students and encourage involvement in the international research community. We have strong links with industry including Cisco, IBM, Microsoft and Oracle.

    Postgraduate resources

    The School of Computing has a large range of equipment providing both UNIX (TM) and PC-based systems and a cluster facility consisting of 30 Linux-based PCs for parallel computation. New resources include a multi-core enterprise server with 128 hardware threads and a virtual machine server that supports computer security experiments.

    All students benefit from a well-stocked library, giving access to e-books and online journals as well as books, and a high bandwidth internet gateway. The School and its research groups hold a series of regular seminars presented by staff as well as by visiting speakers and our students are welcome to attend.

    The School of Computing has a makerspace on the Canterbury campus, which offers exciting new teaching and collaboration opportunities. Among other equipment, it contains milling machines, a 3D printer, laser cutter and extensive space for building and making digital artefacts. The School also owns speciallist equipment for Internet of Things and media steganography.

    Our taught postgraduate students enjoy a high level of access to academic staff and have their own dedicated laboratory and study room. Students whose course includes an industrial placement are supported by a dedicated team which helps them gain a suitable position and provides support throughout the placement.

    Links with industry

    Strong links with industry underpin all our work, notably with Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, Agilent Technologies, Erlang Solutions, Hewlett Packard Laboratories, Ericsson, Nvidia and Nexor.

     

    Global Skills Award

    All students registered for a taught Master's programme are eligible to apply for a place on our Global Skills Award Programme. The programme is designed to broaden your understanding of global issues and current affairs as well as to develop personal skills which will enhance your employability.  

    Apply now

    Learn more about the applications process or begin your application by clicking on a link below.

    Once started, you can save and return to your application at any time.

    Apply for entry to:

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