Daniel Lawrence - Advanced Computer Science MSc
Cyber Security - MSc
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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.
You can gain work experience by choosing to take this course with an industrial placement. We have strong links with industry including IBM, Microsoft and Oracle. Our dedicated placement team can help you gain a suitable paid position and provide support throughout your placement.
About the School of Computing
Our world-leading researchers, in key areas such as cyber security, programming languages, computational intelligence and data science, earned us an outstanding result in the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF); 100% of our Computer Science and Informatics research was classified as either 'world-leading' or 'internationally excellent' for impact.
Strong links with industry underpin all our work, notably with Cisco Systems Inc, Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, Nvidia, Erlang Solutions, GCHQ and Google.
Our courses 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.
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.
This degree has been partially accredited by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This module aims to familiarise students with general concepts about privacy, privacy issues in selected application contexts of privacy enhancing technologies (e.g., Internet and web, mobile computing, online social networks, IoT), selected privacy enhancing technologies including data anonymisation (e.g., k-anonymity and differential privacy), anonymous communication (e.g., Tor), web and mobile privacy tools, and socio-technical related topics aspects of privacy (e.g., privacy behaviours, privacy policies, usability, and relevant legal issues).
This module investigates the whole process of information security management and associated activities including the concepts used and practices prescribed by relevant standards, such as those defined by ISO/IEC. A holistic view of information security management is taken, including risk management, the formulation of security policies, business continuity and resilience. Selected socio-technical topics that are important for information security management will also be covered. These shall include AAA (authentication, authorisation and accountability), important legal aspects especially data protection and privacy laws, data protection impact assessment, usability analysis and management, wider human factors in cyber security such as social engineering attacks and the importance of a positive cyber security culture for encouraging secure behaviours of employees and users.
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.
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 and network security protocols. Real time data transmission and quality of service. Naming and addressing and related security concerns. Security of IEEE 802.11 networks.
This module starts with the fundamental mathematical concepts to build cryptographic primitives. A key objective is to learn to implement the primitives without using programming libraries, learn the formal security notions and models for the primitives, and the use of the primitives in practical applications like blockchains.
The second part of the module covers the key application areas of authentication, authorisation and accountability (AAA). Included here are foundational topics of user and non-user authentication (including issues with password and biometric authentications), as well as access control and authorisation, along with matters related to accountability.
The project consists primarily of an extended period during which students undertake a substantial piece of work and a report on this in the form of a dissertation. It is usually preceded by an exploratory stage in which students review and summarise relevant literature or other technical background, and gain specific skills relevant to their project via a series of taught workshops. It may be permitted to undertake the work in groups, particularly for projects with a development focus. However, the dissertations are produced individually. The project examines the student's ability to research technical background, 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), to 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.
A synopsis of the curriculum:
- Network security and cybercrime.
- Analysis of real world network security incident (IoT botnet).
- Email security issues (spam and phishing attacks; spam filtering systems).
- Spyware (system vulnerabilities; stealth techniques; detection and removal).
- Network-related data security (data breaches; data loss prevention; remote sniffer detection).
- Security of WiFi networks.
- IoT network security
- Network forensics and incident response.
- Emerging network protocols
- IPv6 security.
- Honeypots and honeynets.
- Software-defined networking.
The module looks at a number of advanced topics in cyber security that are important for understanding, finding, researching and assessing security solutions. Example topics include:
- Digital steganography and watermarking, and its increasing role in modern malware;
- CAPTCHAs and other mechanisms to distinguish bots from humans remotely;
- AI in security, for example, the role of deep learning and adversarial examples in cyber security;
- Security in AI, for example, the protection of machine learning techniques against cyber threats;
- Random number generators and their relevance in password and nonce generation;
- Advanced malware threats such as ransomware, covering their evolution and providing some insights into likely future trends, including economic aspects.
- Advanced topics in research related to human factors and usable security, e.g., user behaviour and their relationship to cybercrime, positive security, user profiling and
- Quantum cyber security and the development of quantum-resistant cyber security systems based on quantum mechanics;
- Advanced topics in IoT security, covering new developments and trends, threats and mitigations.
The module focuses on teaching the foundations of language-based security including but not limited to the use of formal logics, type systems, process calculi and proof carrying code for reasoning about the security properties of programs.
This module will give students an overarching introduction to quantum information processing (QIP). At the end of the course the students will have a basic understanding of quantum computation, quantum communication, and quantum cryptography; as well as the implications to other fields such as computation, physics, and cybersecurity.
We will take a multi-disciplinary approach that will encourage and require students to engage in topics outside of their core discipline. The module will cover the most essential mathematical background required to understand QIP. This includes: linear algebra, basic elements of quantum theory (quantum states, evolution of closed quantum systems, Born's rule), and basic theory of computing. The module will introduce students to the following theoretical topics: quantum algorithms, quantum cryptography, quantum communication & information. The module will also address experimental quantum computation & cryptography.
This module will aim to familiarise students with core concepts (e.g. Locard's exchange principle, and legal admissibility of digital evidence) and best practices (e.g. the ACPO Good Practice Guide for Digital Evidence, Contemporaneous Notes taking, and the SWGDE guidelines) underpinning digital forensic investigations. It introduces methodologies that guide the digital investigative process (i.e., collection, interpretation, analysis and reporting), and key techniques that can be applied for interpretation and analysis of digital evidence in the context of digital forensics in general (e.g., hashing, and file carving), computer forensics (e.g., windows registry analysis and metadata analysis), and multimedia forensics (e.g., multimedia source analysis for device identification, and multimedia content analysis for forgery detection).
The module also discusses challenges faced by digital forensics due to the increasing volume and diversity of data sources involved in investigations.
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 project is assessed by dissertation.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Should you choose to take the Placement Year the fee is currently £1,385 for a 12-month placement, reduced pro-rata for shorter placements.
The 2023/24 annual tuition fees for this course are:
- Home full-time £9500
- EU full-time £16400
- International full-time £21900
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 email@example.com.
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.
General additional costs
Find out more about general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent.
Search our scholarships finder for possible funding opportunities. You may find it helpful to look at both:
- University and external funds
- Scholarships specific to the academic school delivering this programme.
We have a range of subject-specific awards and scholarships for academic, sporting and musical achievement.Search scholarships
In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021, 100% of our Computer Science and Informatics research was classified as either 'world-leading' or 'internationally excellent' for impact.
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. This MSc Course in Cyber Security has been certified by GCHQ. The group is also involved in undergraduate modules in this area, postgraduate programmes in other schools and 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
- Internet Of Things Security and Privacy
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
Staff research interests
Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.
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. Our graduates therefore benefit from a first-rate academic experience as well as being prepared to face the demands of the economic environment.
Our graduates have gone on to work in:
- software engineering
- mobile applications development
- systems analysis
- web design and e-commerce
- finance and insurance
Recent graduates have gone on to develop successful careers at leading companies such as:
- BAE Systems
- The Walt Disney Company
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.
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:
- Kent Police
- 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.
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.
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, 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 specialist 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.
Learn more about the application process or begin your application by clicking on a link below.
You will be able to choose your preferred year of entry once you have started your application. You can also save and return to your application at any time.
Apply for entry to:
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MSc at Canterbury
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International student enquiries
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