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Computer Science for Cyber Security

MSc / PGDip / PGCert

School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics

Cyber threats are on the increase and have been highlighted by the UK government as one of the four main threats to the UK. There is an increasing demand from business and government for individuals skilled in computer science and cyber security who can design, build, and maintain secure software and systems that can protect people, business and data from malicious attack.

This programme builds on the knowledge gained in a first degree to equip you with advanced computer science and cyber security skills necessary to produce modern secure systems. The theory taught in the lectures is reinforced in the practicals where you have the opportunity to use industry standard tools and techniques in our dedicated security, server and networking laboratories which provide a safe space for you to practice both offensive and defensive security techniques.

This course has provisional GCHQ certification.

Available start dates

September 2019 / September 2020

Teaching location

Wheatley Campus

Course length

  • Full time: MSc - 1 year (12 months); MSc with placement 2 years (24 months); PG Dip - 6 months; PG Cert - 3 months
  • Part time: MSc - 2 years; Msc with placement 3 years (36 months); PG Dip - 18 months (12 months study time); PG Cert - 6 months

For full application details, please see the 'How to apply / Entry requirements' section.

  • Provisional GCHQ certification, recognising the high standard of the course
  • Dedicated security, server and networking laboratories with enterprise equipment including Cisco switches, routers, firewalls and Dell servers
  • Small, dedicated private cloud that allows you to create more complex cyber security scenarios and to investigate cloud security issues
  • Access to a wide range of enterprise software to ensure realistic deployment environments
  • An emphasis on live projects, alongside group work modelled on industry standard working patterns, giving you the opportunity to develop skills that are directly applicable to the workplace
  • Staff with a wide range of expertise in computer science and cyber security
  • An opportunity to apply to undertake a placement which enables you to practice and refine your skills within a company or organisation.
The MSc in Computer Science for Cyber Security has a modular course-unit design providing you with maximum flexibility and choice. To qualify for a master’s degree without placement, you must pass modules amounting to 180 credits. This comprises six taught modules (20 credits each) plus your dissertation (60 credits). To qualify for a master's degree with placement you need to undertake a one-year placement in between the taught component and the dissertation. 
The Postgraduate Diploma in Computer Science for Cyber Security allows you to concentrate on the taught part of the degree and is ideal for people working in the computing industry who wish to brush up their skills. To qualify for a Postgraduate Diploma, you must pass modules amounting to 120 credits. This comprises six taught modules (20 credits each). In some cases, it may be possible for a student on a Postgraduate Diploma to do 3 taught modules (20 credits each) plus your dissertation (60 credits). 
The Postgraduate Certificate in Computer Science for Cyber Security allows you to concentrate on the taught part of the degree and is ideal for people working in the computing industry who wish to learn a specific area in this rapidly changing discipline. To qualify for a Postgraduate Certificate, you must pass modules amounting to 60 credits. This comprises three taught modules (20 credits each). 
Semester 1 has the following modules:
  • Research, Scholarship and Professional Skills in Cyber Security (compulsory for MSc) is designed to equip you with the tools necessary for the scholarship and research skills needed for the computer science and cyber security fields as well as developing the professional skills and outlook needed for a lifelong career in the computing industry.
  • Enterprise Networking (compulsory for MSc) teaches the principles and practice of computer networking looking at how networks are used in modern enterprises.
  • Secure Systems Architecture (compulsory for MSc and PG Dip), in which you will study the fundamentals of computer and network security and the ways that computer systems can be secured. This module will look at both the technological and human issues involved in securing and assessing the security level of a modern networked computer system. It also introduces basic concepts of operating systems and architecture.
Semester 2 has the following modules:
  • Operating Systems Security and Development (compulsory for MSc and PG Dip) builds on the foundations laid in Secure Systems Architecture to look at more complex operating systems concepts and technologies. This module also covers systems development and students also learn low level systems programming which they put into practice by changing and extending existing operating systems.
  • Secure Programming (compulsory for MSc) looks at the analysis, design, and implementation of secure software. This module considers what software engineering principles can and should be used to help ensure the security of software in a range of environments. You will be taught the common classes of vulnerability at design and implementation stages and how they can defended and mitigated against. 
  • Malware Analysis (compulsory for MSc and PG Dip) looks at low level programming tools and techniques for the creation, detection and defence against malware. You will learn how to examine code at the assembler level using reverse engineering techniques, as well as network level analysis of command and control structures, to obtain detailed information on malware. You will also investigate advanced malware anti-forensics tools, such as code obfuscation, and use mechanisms for defeating them.
If you are studying for an MSc you will also take:
  • MSc Dissertation, which is an individual research and development project that allows you to study a topic of your choice in depth, guided by your supervisor. The work may be undertaken in close co-operation with a research, industrial or commercial organisation. You will undertake your dissertation over the summer period.
MSc students have the option to apply to undertake a placement. Placement positions are not guaranteed, however the department will help and support students in finding a placement. Students on the placement will also take:
  • Work Experience Placement, which is an optional element of all the School's Computing programmes, and provides professional and practical experience in the computing, communications, or media industries. The nature of the work undertaken will be relevant to a student’s programme, and may provide a basis for the development of the dissertation.
Please note: as our courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework, the list of taught modules offered may vary from the list here.

Teaching and learning

The taught modules include lectures, seminars, library and internet research, and practical design and experimentation. 

Teaching staff include experienced academic staff and practitioners in the field of Computer Science and Cyber Security. Visiting speakers from business and industry help to maintain relevance to the evolution of the industry. 

Laboratory facilities include dedicated security, server and networking laboratories.

Approach to assessment

Assessments include coursework exercises, presentations, lab work, reports and examinations.

Specialist facilities

Our labs are equipped with industry-standard equipment and software tools. This enables students to develop skills of immediate relevance to industry needs while also providing a sound practical basis that enhances their understanding of theoretical concepts.

Our security lab is on an isolated network with both investigation and victim machines to give students hands on experience of cyber security issues and techniques without risk to the rest of the network giving students the opportunity to learn offensive security analysis techniques. In addition to the physical machines in the lab, there is a dedicated Virtualisation Platform for use in cloud based scenarios.

Our server lab has a mixture of client PCs and Dell servers to allow students to set up a wide variety of complex IT systems. Students have access to a range of Microsoft systems software, VMWare virtualisation management software and a wide range of other software to enable them to recreate a variety of realistic business scenarios.

Networking laboratories are equipped with modern Cisco routers, switches and security devices to enable design construction and testing of complete high bandwidth, secure, wired and wireless networks.

Additional costs

Students on placement are responsible for living costs associated with their placement.

Attendance pattern

Part time study is an option on this programme for students who wish to combine their study with work. Where possible we try to ensure that part time students only need to attend for 1 day a week, although students will be expected to undertake additional independent study.

Programme changes

On rare occasions we may need to make changes to our course programmes after they have been published on the website. For more information, please visit our Changes to programmes page.

Tuition fees

Home/EU - full time fee: 2019/20: Masters £6,360 (12 months), Diploma £5,100 (6 months), Certificate £2,550 (3 months) 2020/21: Masters £8,000 (12 months), Diploma £7,000 (6 months), Certificate £4,000 (3 months)

Home/EU - part time fee: 2019/20: Masters £3,240 2020/21: £4,000

Home/EU - sandwich fee: 2019/20: £1,270 2020/21: £1,410

International - full time: 2019/20: £14,850 2020/21: £15,700

International - sandwich fee: 2019/20: £3,180 2020/21: £3,250

Where part time fees are quoted this is for the first year only. Fees will increase by up to 4% each year.

Please be aware that some courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees. Specific additional costs for this course, if any, are detailed in the 'This course in detail' window above.

Questions about fees?
Contact Student Finance on:
+44 (0)1865 483088

Funding and scholarships

The Department of Computing and Communication Technologies awards a limited number of scholarships for its taught postgraduate programmes, which are awarded on a competitive basis to UK, EU and international postgraduates each year. Further information can be found at /ecm/courses/scholarships/

Entry requirements

You should normally hold a first degree, equivalent to at least a British lower second-class bachelor’s degree, in an Electronic Engineering, Telecommunications, Computer Science or a related Engineering or Computing degree. Applicants whose first degree is not in these areas, but who have worked in a related industry, and have obtained good relevant experience and programming skills, can also be considered.

English language requirements

If your first language is not English you will require a minimum IELTS score of 6.0 with 6.0 in all components.


An equivalent English language qualification acceptable to the University.

Please also see the university's standard English language requirements

English requirements for visas

If you need a student visa to enter the UK you will need to meet the UK Visas and Immigration minimum language requirements as well as the university's requirements. Find out more about English language requirements.

International applications

Preparation courses for International and EU students

We offer a range of courses to help you to meet the entry requirements for this course and also familiarise you with university life. You may also be able to apply for one student visa to cover both courses.

  • Take our Pre-Master's course to help you to meet both the English language and academic entry requirements for your master's course.
  • If you need to improve your English language, we have pre-sessional English language courses available to help you to meet the English language requirements of your chosen master’s.

If you are studying outside the UK, for more details about your specific country entry requirements, translated information, local contacts and programmes within your country, please have a look at our country pages.

How to apply

Terms and Conditions of Enrolment

When you accept our offer, you agree to the Terms and Conditions of Enrolment. You should therefore read those conditions before accepting the offer.

How this course helps you develop

We focus on using industry standard tools to solve practical and industrially relevant problems, and using those problems to teach the theoretical concepts. This ensures that you have the opportunity to acquire skills which will not just equip you for today's computing industry, but for a lifelong career in the computing industry.

Students on the MSc course who undertake a placement will have the opportunity to put into practice in a business environment, the skills they have acquired in the taught part of the programme as well as gaining valuable experience for their CVs.


This programme allows graduates to undertake a wide range of roles in IT and cyber security. Common careers in this area are IT security professionals, penetration testers, digital forensic investigators, software developers, systems engineers, technical analysts, IT managers, and consultants.

How Brookes supports postgraduate students

Academic and administrative help and advice will be available to all students from sources including:
  • Advice academic guidance and supervisory arrangements from the programme lead, subject coordinators and module leaders. Most modules will have tutorial, seminar or lab-based support activities
  • The Placement Team can help students find placement opportunities and give support while on placement
  • Programme and dissertation handbooks
  • Student Support Coordinators
  • Student forums
  • Student representatives who are invited to attend a variety of meetings at which programme issues and student concerns are discussed.
During induction week, you are given handbooks explaining the choices available to you on the course, and providing helpful information about the compulsory modules as well. The Subject Coordinator is available for consultation and our Postgraduate Administrator is available to deal specifically with graduate issues.

Supporting your learning

From academic advisers and support co-ordinators to specialist subject librarians and other learning support staff, we want to ensure that you get the best out of your studies.

Research highlights

The School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics is home to world-leading and award-winning research.

Our focus is on user-inspired original research with real-world applications. We have a vibrant and growing research community, with a wide range of activities from model-driven system design and empirical software engineering through to web technologies, cloud computing and big data, digital forensics and computer vision. Staff and students collaborate on projects supported by the EPSRC, the EU, the DTI, and several major UK companies.

Further, Computing achieved an excellent assessment of its UoA (Unit of Assessment) 11 return for REF 2014 (Research Excellence Framework).

Research areas and clusters

Students on this course link into the wide range of research that goes on in the department. In particular they can be involved with research in the following research groups: