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Information Security MSc

Year of entry 2017
Course Length 1 year full time
2-5 years part time
Also available by distance learning
Department Information Security »

The creation, transmission and storage of huge volumes of electronic data is one of the defining features of our age. Whilst these technologies bring us untold benefits, they also expose businesses, governments and individuals to repeated threats, such as fraud through data manipulation, deliberate sabotage and blackmail. As a result, businesses, governments and individuals around the world rely on the expertise and innovations of information security specialists, without which global communications systems would grind to a halt.

Want to join this expanding field and learn from the very best? Our flagship Information Security programme was the first of its kind in the world. It is certified by GCHQ, the UK Government Communications Headquarters, and taught by academics and industrial partners in one of the largest and most established Information Security Groups in the world. We are a UK Academic Centre of Excellence for cyber security research, and an Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Centre for Doctoral Training in cyber security. We work closely with industry, and much of our curriculum and research is informed and audited by the industry itself. Our teachers are specialists in the field, with backgrounds in computer science, engineering, mathematics, statistics and the social sciences.

Our broad curriculum encompasses cryptography, fraud detection, system security, network security, device security and the study of how security itself should be managed. You will learn about the technical, legal and commercial aspects of the industry and have the chance to complete a supervised dissertation on a topic of your choice. In a typical year you could benefit from lectures and seminars given by as many as 50 different guest speakers. You will also have access to our virtualisation software, for experimenting with network security settings and ideas, as well as to our Penetration Testing Laboratory and industry-sponsored Smart Card Centre.

We offer a friendly, supportive learning environment and you will have a dedicated personal adviser to guide you through your studies. The skills you gain will open up a range of high-level career options and provide a solid foundation if you wish to progress to a PhD. Our graduates are in demand for their cutting-edge grasp of the field as well as their technical expertise and transferrable skills such as data handling, analysis, problem solving and research. The programme can be completed in one year full-time, two years part-time, three to seven years through Continuous Professional Development (CPD), or two to four years through distance learning.

  • Join a world-class Information Security Group, recognised as an Academic Centre of Excellence by the UK Government.
  • Learn from an interdisciplinary team of renowned information security specialists who are involved in pioneering research in the field.
  • Gain an industry-recognised Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) qualification as part of your studies, with (ISC)2. 
  • Benefit from our close ties with the information security industry.
  • Enjoy the flexibility to tailor your degree to your particular interests and complete a supervised research project of your own.

Students follow either Core A or Core B, depending on the areas they choose to specialise in. You are required to complete four core modules (worth 20 credits each) and the main project (worth 60 credits). The following summarises the compulsory modules for each of these Cores:

Core modules

Security Management

Introduction to Cryptography and Security Mechanisms

Project

Core modules (Core A only)

Network Security

Computer Security

Core modules (Core B only)

Secure Business Architectures

Security Technologies

In addition, students are required to choose two optional course units (worth 20 credits each). The following are a selection of optional courses that are likely to be available. Please also refer to the mandatory elements of particular pathways as outlined below.

Optional modules

Legal and Regulatory Aspects of Electronic Commerce

Advanced Cryptography - subject to availability

Database Crime

Cyber Crime

Smart Cards, RFIDs and Embedded Systems Security

Software Security

Digital Forensics

Security Testing Theory and Practice

Cyber Security

Additionally, an MSc student may optionally register for one of the following six pathways. These constrain the choices of the student in the following ways:

Core A pathways

Cybercrime (requiring the Cyber Crime and Digital Forensics optional module, and a project related to cybercrime).

Smart cards, RFIDs and embedded systems security (requiring the Smart Cards, RFIDs and Embedded Systems Security optional module, and a project related to smart cards, RFIDs or embedded systems)

Security testing (requiring the Security Testing, Theory and Practice optional module, and a project related to security testing)

Digital forensics (requiring the Digital Forensics optional module, and a project related to digital forensics)

Core A or B pathways

Cyber security (requiring the Cyber Security optional module, and a project related to cyber security)

Core B pathways

Secure digital business (requiring the Legal and Regulatory Aspects of Electronic Commerce optional module, and a project related to secure digital business)

Please note that, although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new units may be offered or existing units may be withdrawn, for example, in response to a change in staff.


The programme can be completed in one year full-time, two years part-time, three to seven years through Continuous Professional Development (CPD), or two to four years through distance learning.

We use a range of teaching methods, including seminars, lectures and practical lab work. There is a strong focus on small group teaching. The programme has a flexible, modular structure, combining a sueprvised dissertation and mandatory courses that together make up 120 of the 180 credits required to pass, with a range of optional modules on specialist topics, worth 20 credits each.

During your studies you will be invited to attend an intensive, two-day revision course to prepare for the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) exams, which you will then be able to sit on campus, through an established arrangement with (ISC)2.

Assessment is through a combination of end-of-year examinations sat in May or June and the written dissertation, which has to be submitted in September.

Entry criteria:

UK 2:2 (Honours) or equivalent. Students without the required first degree but with appropriate industrial experience will also be considered.

 

English language requirements:

IELTS 6.5 overall and minimum of 5.5 in each subscore


If you require Royal Holloway to sponsor you study in the UK, your IELTS must be a UK government-approved Secure English Language Test (SELT).

International and EU entry requirements

Please select your country from the drop-down list below




Students from overseas should visit the International pages for information on the entry requirements from their country and further information on English language requirements. Royal Holloway offers a Pre-Master’s Diploma for International Students and English language pre-sessional courses, allowing students the opportunity to develop their study skills and English language before starting their postgraduate degree.

 

By the end of this programme you will possess the knowledge and skills to pursue a career as a cyber security professional, and an ideal basis for moving on to further postgraduate research if you prefer. You will have an advanced knowledge and understanding of the latest breakthroughs and techniques, as well as key challenges and opportunities in the field. This programme will also give you valuable transferable skills such as advanced IT skills, data handling, analysis, research, communication, problem solving, time management, adaptability and self-motivation.

Our graduates are highly employable and in recent years they have gone on to forge successful careers in a wide range of sectors, including: banking, telecommunications, security consultancies, the civil service, public utilities and the retail sector.

You will be assigned a personal advisor to guide you through your studies and advise you on further postgraduate opportunities. The campus Careers team will be on hand to offer advice and guidance on your chosen career and the University of London Careers Advisory Service runs regular sessions on finding summer internships or vacation employment and securing employment after graduation.

  • Equip yourself with the knowledge and skills to work at a high level in the information security industry or move into postgraduate research.
  • Our strong ties with industry mean we understand the needs of employers and can ensure that you are well prepared to enter the world of work.
  • We have a strong track record of helping graduates into successful, high-level careers in a wide range of sectors.

Home and EU students tuition fee per year 2017/18*: £10,050

Overseas students tuition fee per year 2017/18*: £17,000

Other essential costs**: There are no single associated costs greater than £50 per item on this course

Find out more about funding options, including loans, grants, scholarships and bursaries.

*The tuition fees given above apply to students enrolled on a full-time basis.  Students studying part-time are charged a pro-rata tuition fee and information is available from the Royal Holloway Student Fees Office on Student-Fees@rhul.ac.uk. All fees are likely to rise annually in line with inflation but no more than 5 per cent per year.

For further information, please see Royal Holloway’s Terms & Conditions.

** These estimated costs relate to studying this particular degree programme at Royal Holloway. Costs, such as accommodation, food, books and other learning materials and printing etc., have not been included.

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