Students preparing for their graduation ceremony at Canterbury Cathedral

Information Security and Biometrics - MSc

2019

The Information Security and Biometrics MSc offers an advanced level of learning and provides you with a detailed understanding of the theories, concepts and techniques in the design, development and effective use of secure information systems.

2019

Overview

Secure information systems are critically important to modern day businesses and societies. From banking systems and medical systems to power infrastructures or a simple home PC, security is vitally important as they are usually all interconnected directly or indirectly via the Internet or telephony system.

This Master’s programme combines modern engineering and technology with digital media and equips students with the skill set to develop modern security systems with an emphasis on biometric identity management. Graduates of this programme are then capable of adapting to changes in the field and of leading it in innovation.

Iulia talks about her Information Security and Biometrics MSc at Kent.

About the School of Engineering and Digital Arts

The School of Engineering and Digital Arts successfully combines modern engineering and technology with the exciting new field of digital media.

Established over 40 years ago, the School has developed a top-quality teaching and research base, receiving excellent ratings in both research and teaching assessments.

The School undertakes high-quality research that has had significant national and international impact, and our spread of expertise allows us to respond rapidly to new developments. Our 30 academic staff and over 130 postgraduate students and research staff provide an ideal focus to effectively support a high level of research activity. There is a thriving student population studying for postgraduate degrees in a friendly and supportive teaching and research environment.

We have research funding from the Research Councils UK, European research programmes, a number of industrial and commercial companies and government agencies including the Ministry of Defence. Our Electronic Systems Design Centre and Digital Media Hub provide training and consultancy for a wide range of companies. Many of our research projects are collaborative, and we have well-developed links with institutions worldwide.

National ratings

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, research by the School of Engineering and Digital Arts was ranked 21st in the UK for research intensity.

An impressive 98% of our research was judged to be of international quality and the School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of research of international excellence.

Course structure

This programme is taught jointly with the School of Computing. Both schools are at the forefront of research in their areas.

The School of Engineering and Digital Arts has an excellent reputation for research in various aspects of biometrics, including individual biometric modalities, the management of complexity in biometric systems and the testing and evaluation of biometric systems; while the School of Computing has participated in the development of X.509 international standard and the first X.509 privilege management infrastructure (PMI) was built by members of this school.

This Master's programme offers an advanced level of learning by providing students with a thorough understanding of the theories, concepts and techniques for the design, development and effective use of secure information systems, and producing graduates who are capable of adapting to changes in the field and leading it in innovation.

The course is designed for practitioners, professionals and graduates with an interest in information security, access control technologies, and application domains using biometric identification and verification systems.

Student profiles

See what our students have to say.

Example projects

View examples of student projects for this course.

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.

Modules may include Credits

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

• Security mechanisms used with operating systems, including: access control lists and capabilities. Trusted operating systems and common criteria for evaluation.

• 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.

• Digital rights management systems: CSS, OMA DRM. Using digital watermarking techniques for digital rights 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.

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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.

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Introduction to Matlab

Introduces the basics of the Matlab and Simulink programme environment and prepares the students for the Introduction to Matlab workshops.

Introductiion to the MSc Projects

Overall timetable and plan for the individual and group projects

Writing Better Technical English

As scientists and engineers, an ability to communicate information clearly through the written word is central to our professional activities. Whether we are publishing our research in an academic journal, writing a report for our employers or just summarising a piece of work for our records, the way in which we write will directly influence the quality and value of what we do.

In these lectures we will look at what determines the quality of formal writing, and how we can maximise the impact and clarity of what we write. Whether English is our native language or a second language, it is important critically to examine how we write if we are to express what we have to say in the best possible way. We will begin by examining the benefits of making more effort in our writing, and we will survey some of the common errors which often occur, showing how these can have an effect not just on the ease with which our work can be understood and absorbed but also on the precise meaning of what we say. We will explore some strategies for improving writing quality, and will consider some guidelines for the development of longer-term writing skills. We will explore a number of examples of "good" and "bad" writing, and everyone will have an

opportunity to take part in some simple exercises.

Literature Review: Techniques and Tools

Surveys using networked electronic information sources, on-line databases, inter-library loan facilities, private communications, etc. Identification of a technical area worthy of research, definition of the state- of -the-art in a given field, definition of the research project, and research proposals. Patent search.

Research Project Management

Time management. Resources management. Project management software (MS Project). Use of logbooks. Data management. Data security. Team working skills.

Research Publications

Structure, content and procedures. Project reports and theses. Journal and conference papers. Technical presentations. Use of references. Writing up of abstract, introduction and conclusions. Submission, refereeing and amendments. Effective use of figures, drawings and tables. MS WORD, ENDNOTE and LATEX.

Presentations and Research Results

Objectives and structure. Audience analysis. Rehearsal and delivery. Design of visual aids. Use of computerized projection facilities. Multi-media approach. Poster design and poster presentation. Handling questions.

Interllectual Property Rights

Patents, patent rights and know-how. Copyright and copying. Design rights and registered designs. Research contracts and agreements. Confidentiality agreement.

Research Ethics

Ethics in engineering research. Research supervision. Modelling and simulation versus real experimental work. Processing and presentation of experimental data. Obfuscation in writing up research papers.

Systems Engineering

Understanding systems definitions, the context of projects and levels of systems engineering. System boundaries. Capturing requirements. System design methods. Validation and verification.

Team Dynamics

Project management phases, Tucker's team building model. People, psychological types. Influencing others and managing people. Leadership styles

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Lecture Syllabus

Fundamentals of Biometric Systems:

Biometrics and biometrics systems; Biometric modalities; Components of a biometric system;Biometrics sample acquisition, transformation, & normalisation; Introduction to characteristics of some specific key modalities including face recognition, iris recognition, handwritten signature verification, fingerprint processing; Errors, error sources, and error handling in identification systems; Concept of multimodal systems: accuracy, flexibility, usability, inclusion and exception handling. Characterising human behaviour in biometrics-based systems. Relationships with image and signal processing and pattern recognition techniques. Social issues, privacy, and trust.

Biometric Technologies:

Implementation of biometric systems. Examples of systems using the major modalities. Analysis of modality specific features and feature extraction, selection and classification strategies. State of the art in sensor technologies; Spoofing and counter-measures.

Coursework

Workshops

Four six-hour assessed practical workshops.

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15

A major practical system will be developed either in an industrial context or within the department. There are no formal lectures - students will undertake the work in their own time under the regular supervision of a member of the academic staff and, where appropriate, industrial collaborators.

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Teaching and Assessment

The project module is examined by a presentation and dissertation. The Research Methods and Project Design module is examined by several components of continuous assessment. The other modules are assessed by examinations and smaller components of continuous assessment. MSc students must gain credit from all the modules. For the PDip, you must gain at least 120 credits in total, and pass certain modules to meet the learning outcomes of the PDip programme.

Programme aims

This programme aims to:

  • produce graduate engineers with a broad understanding of how to provide effective information security, and how to develop and use modern security systems, with a particular emphasis on biometric identity management
  • equip trained engineers with the necessary system development skills to allow them to adapt to a dynamic and fast-changing industrial environment
  • provide you with proper academic guidance and welfare support
  • create an atmosphere of co-operation and partnership between staff and students, and offer you an environment where you can develop your potential.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • information security and biometrics (including the importance of taking a systems-wide approach to maintaining information security) and an awareness of developing technologies in this field
  • mathematical and computer models for analysis of information security and biometric systems (including  the design and analysis of modern systems for encryption, authentication, authorisation and identification)
  • design processes relevant to technologies such as networks and pattern classification and supporting methodologies such as system design and software engineering
  • ethical and legal issues, relevant standards and the mechanisms by which such standards are agreed
  • the current industrial context in which biometric and secure systems are developed and employed
  • extensive knowledge of characteristics of equipment, processes, algorithms and products, such as encryption systems, face and finger-print recognition systems and biometric sensors.

Intellectual skills

You develop intellectual skills in:

  • how to think critically, reason and reflect
  • the ability to produce a specification of the operation of a complex system, based on an understanding of the component parts
  • the ability to undertake critical appraisal of a candidate system design and reflect upon its merits
  • the ability to use fundamental knowledge to explore new and emerging technologies
  • the ability to understand the limitations of mathematical and computer-based problem-solving and assess the impact in particular cases
  • the ability to extract data pertinent to an unfamiliar problem and apply it in the solution
  • the ability to apply engineering techniques taking account of commercial and industrial constraints.

Subject-specific skills

You gain subject-specific skills in:

  • the ability to analyse the information security requirements of an organisation
  • the ability to analyse and comprehend a biometrically-based secure system engineering problem, using appropriate formal analysis methods
  • the ability to apply knowledge of design processes in unfamiliar situations and to generate innovative designs to fulfil new needs, particularly in the fields of complex biometric and secure systems
  • the ability to select and employ appropriate development tools for modern biometric and secure systems
  • the ability to select, install and configure different security components to work together to form a complex security system
  • the use of appropriate software tools, techniques and packages to produce and develop security systems, including biometrically-based ones
  • the ability to devise tests of a software system through experiment and simulation and to critically appraise the results
  • the use of software development kits and tools to analyse problems and develop solutions.

Transferable skills

You gain the following transferable skills:

  • the ability to generate, analyse, present and interpret data
  • use of information and communications technology
  • personal and interpersonal skills, working as a member of a team
  • an ability to communicate effectively, in writing, verbally and through drawings
  • the ability for critical thinking, reasoning and reflection
  • the ability to learn effectively for the purpose of continuing professional development.
  • the ability to manage time and resources within an individual and group project.

Careers

We have developed the programme with a number of industrial organisations, which means that successful students will be in a strong position to build long-term careers in this important discipline.

The School of Engineering and Digital Arts has an excellent record of student employability. We are committed to enhancing the employability of all our students, to equip you with the skills and knowledge to succeed in a competitive, fast-moving, knowledge-based economy.

Graduates who can show that they have developed transferable skills and valuable experience are better prepared to start their careers and are more attractive to potential employers. Within the School of Engineering and Digital Arts, you can develop the skills and capabilities that employers seek. These include problem solving, independent thought, report-writing, time management, leadership skills, team-working and good communication.

Kent has an excellent record for postgraduate employment: over 96% of our postgraduate students who graduated in 2015 found a job or further study opportunity within six months.

Building on Kent’s success as the region’s leading institution for student employability, we offer many opportunities for you to gain worthwhile experience and develop the specific skills and aptitudes that employers value.

Study support

Postgraduate resources

Students on the Information Security and Biometrics Master’s course have access to state-of-the-art biometrics equipment, which can be used for studying the characteristics of the different biometric modalities introduced during the course.

Support

As a postgraduate student, you are part of a thriving research community and receive support through a wide-ranging programme of individual supervision, specialised research seminars, general skills training programmes, and general departmental colloquia, usually with external speakers. We encourage you to attend and present your work at major conferences, as well as taking part in our internal conference and seminar programmes.

Dynamic publishing culture

Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. Recent contributions include: IEEE Transactions; IET Journals; Electronics Letters; Applied Physics; Computers in Human Behaviour.

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.  

Entry requirements

A 2.2 or higher honours degree in electronics, computing or a subject with a strong IT component.

All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, and professional qualifications and experience will 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 for your country. 

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.

Research areas

Intelligent Interactions

The Intelligent Interactions group has interests in all aspects of information engineering and human-machine interactions. It was formed in 2014 by the merger of the Image and Information Research Group and the Digital Media Research Group.

The group has an international reputation for its work in a number of key application areas. These include: image processing and vision, pattern recognition, interaction design, social, ubiquitous and mobile computing with a range of applications in security and biometrics, healthcare, e-learning, computer games, digital film and animation.

  • Social and Affective Computing
  • Assistive Robotics and Human-Robot Interaction
  • Brain-Computer Interfaces
  • Mobile, Ubiquitous and Pervasive Computing
  • Sensor Networks and Data Analytics
  • Biometric and Forensic Technologies
    Behaviour Models for Security
  • Distributed Systems Security (Cloud Computing, Internet of Things)
  • Advanced Pattern Recognition (medical imaging, document and handwriting recognition, animal biometrics)
  • Computer Animation, Game Design and Game Technologies
  • Virtual and Augmented Reality
  • Digital Arts, Virtual Narratives.

Staff research interests

Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.

Dr Eerke Boiten: Senior Lecturer

Cyber security, including the use of formal methods, cryptography, privacy and data ethics. Refinement.

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Professor David Chadwick: Professor of Information Systems Security

Public key infrastructures; privilege management infrastructures; trust management; identity management; privacy management; policy based authorisation; cloud security; autonomic access controls and internet security research.

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Professor Farzin Deravi: Professor in Information Engineering, Head of School

Pattern recognition; information fusion; computer vision; image processing: image coding; fractals and self-similarity; biometrics; bio-signals; assistive technologies.

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Professor Michael Fairhurst: Professor of Computer Vision

Image analysis; computer vision; handwriting analysis; biometrics and security; novel classifier architectures; medical image analysis and diagnostics; document processing.

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Dr Richard Guest: Reader in Biometric Systems Engineering, Deputy Head of School

Image processing; biometrics technologies including usability, cybermetric linkages and standardisation; automated analysis of handwritten data; document processing.

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Dr Sanaul Hoque: Lecturer in Secure Systems Engineering

Computer vision; OCR; biometrics; security and encryption; multi-expert fusion and document modelling.

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Professor Gareth Howells: Professor of Secure Electronic Systems

Biometric security and pattern classification techniques especially deriving encryption keys from operating characteristics of electronic circuits and systems.

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Dr Andy King: Reader in Program Analysis

Abstract interpretation, logic programming and security.

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Dr Rogerio de Lemos: Senior Lecturer

Software engineering for self-adaptive systems: dynamic generation of management processes, abstractions for supporting self-adaptability and self-organisation, resilience evaluation; self-adaptive dependable and secure systems; architecting dependable systems: abstractions for fault tolerance, and verification and validation of dependable software architectures; software development for safety-critical systems; dependability and bio-inspired computing.

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Dr Konstantinos Sirlantzis: Senior Lecturer in Intelligent Systems

Pattern recognition; multiple classifier systems; artificial intelligence techniques; neural networks, genetic algorithms, and other biologically inspired computing paradigms; image processing; multimodal biometric models; handwriting recognition; numerical stochastic optimisation algorithms; nonlinear dynamics and chaos theory; Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) methods for sensor data fusion.

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Professor Simon Thompson: Professor of Logic and Computation

Functional programming in Haskell, OCaml and Erlang; refactoring functional programs: tool building, theory and practice; dependently-typed functional programming; testing of complex and concurrent systems using properties; property extraction from test suites. 

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Gerald Tripp: Lecturer

Techniques for the analysis and control of high-speed packet networks, including system monitoring and network intrusion detection; use of special-purpose hardware and firmware designs to perform high-speed string and regular expression matching.

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Fees

The 2019/20 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

Information Security and Biometrics - MSc at Canterbury:
UK/EU Overseas
Full-time £7940 £19000
Part-time £3970 £9500

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

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: