University of Chester

Programme Specification
Cybersecurity MSc
2017 - 2018

Master of Science

Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity (Conversion)

University of Chester

University of Chester

Thornton Science Park

Postgraduate (Taught)

Full-time and Part-time

Classroom / Laboratory,

1 year full-time or normally 2 years part-time

6 Years

Annual - October

N/A

I290

No

17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Science & Engineering Computer Science

Masters degree in computing:

http://www.qaa.ac.uk/en/Publications/Documents/SBS-Masters-degree-computing.pdf

The department is aiming to achieve British Computer Society (BCS) accreditation.

PG Computer Science MAB

Tuesday 7th June 2016

The programme will:-

  • Encourage a theoretically informed and reflective approach to academic study.
  • Foster learning and research related to the academic and vocational concerns of students and staff.
  • Develop students from both non-computer science and computer science backgrounds to become original contributors within the field of cybersecurity.
  • Encourage a variety of rigorous and creative approaches to problem solving.
  • Develop students to a practical level of competency to work in the field at an advanced level.
  • Develop students to exercise a critical mindset and the ability to communicate complex concepts to a variety of audiences.
  • Facilitate a robust and professional approach to the design and management of security systems and processes.
  • Produce a skilled workforce to meet the needs of industry and government.

 

The key knowledge areas are a firm grasp of Cybersecurity and a comprehensive understanding of cyber crime investigation and the core concepts and techniques of cybersecurity.

Firm foundations of cybersecurity: (Core: CO7601, CO7602)

Critical evaluation and demonstration of core cybersecurity concepts, tools and techniques: (Core: CO7601, CO7604, CO7605)

Comprehensive understanding and a critical awareness of cyber threats facing businesses, the human cybersecurity factor, and government cybersecurity initiatives: (Core: CO7602, CO7604)

A systematic understanding and a critical awareness of current research and advanced scholarship within cybersecurity. Also, the ability to deploy a wide range of techniques of appropriate research and enquiry into the wider area of cybersecurity especially the business of cybersecurity: (Core: CO7001, CO7115, CO7602)

 

The ability to reason, form concepts, choose appropriate tools, and solve problems using efficient and effective procedures with respect to the domain of cybersecurity: (Core: CO7001, CO7115, CO7602, CO7604, CO7605)

Ability to evaluate, offer original interpretations and make original contribution: (Core: CO7601, CO7115, CO7602)

The ability to form and express critical and informed opinions on a range of contemporary issues in cybersecurity. (Core: CO7100, CO7602 especially, but part of all modules)

The design and implementation of systems with a cybersecurity perspective: (Core: CO7602); (Option: CO7313, CO7314)

The ability to test a system for vulnerabilities, exploit vulnerabilities and defend against security threats: (Core: CO7601, CO7604, CO7605)

Master the use of key cybersecurity tools: (Core: CO7601, CO7602, CO7604, CO7605)

Ability to conduct digital forensics and investigate cyber crime: (Core: CO7604)

Project management, time management, team work, and presentation skills: (Core: CO7602, CO7100)

Working under demanding situations: (Core: CO7601)

Ability to communicate complex concepts in written and/or verbal form, to peers and to academics within the department (Core: CO7115, CO7100, CO7602 especially, but also part of all modules)


Ability to synthesise meaningful conclusions from a range of research literature (Core: CO7602, CO7100)

Ability to work independently on a significant body of work, under the guidance of an academic supervisor (CO7100)

Ability to work in a group and make original contribution to a collective piece of work: (Core: CO7602)

 

The programme structure is designed to develop students with and without a background in computer science to a level at which they can make original contributions in the field of cybersecurity. Coverage of cybersecurity concepts and techniques - the holistic picture and application - and its particular application in information security and to business is established in the early core modules, along with a foundation in contemporary research practices.  The subsequent core modules continue to develop the student's expertise and mastery within the state-of-the-art security in cybersecurity, and along with the optional module choice and the dissertation then develop the students to a point where they can specialize and apply this theoretical and practical foundation in a number of more focused areas.  The optional modules are projected to expand and diversify in later revisions with more specialist cybersecurity modules as the course grows and attracts more students.

Options are: 

  •   Computer Vision and Image Processing
  •   Data Visualisation

These optional modules amongst them will provide a cybersecurity spin on the Computer Science topics, covering for example surveillance, visual biometrics and monitoring, ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition), and the challenge of visualising and expressing complex cybersecurity data.

To cater for students who work full-time and study part-time, one module per term will be taught in the evening and will be rotated each year academic year. 

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
CO7100 7 Research Dissertation 60 Comp
CO7115 7 Research Methods 20 Comp
CO7313 7 Data Visualisation 20 Optional
CO7314 7 Computer Vision and Image Processing 20 Optional
CO7601 7 Cyber Concepts and Techniques 20 Comp
CO7602 7 Business Implications of Cybersecurity 20 Comp
CO7604 7 Digital Forensics and Penetration Testing 20 Comp
CO7605 7 Software Exploitation 20 Comp

  • 60 credits at Level 7 entitles the student to a Postgraduate Certificate
  • 120 credits at Level 7 entitles the student to a Postgraduate Diploma
  • 180 credits at Level 7 entitles the student to a Masters degree

N/A

The department is currently aiming for BCS accreditation.  If achieved, this will cover all degree courses delivered by the department, including this one.

This is a conversion course and is therefore open to applicants of any discipline so long as they possess a good First Degree (normally a 2:1 or above) or equivalent industrial experience.

All applicants are expected to have a willingness to develop technical skills as part of this course and will be required to attend a short interview before confirmation of acceptance onto the course.

For international entry requirements, you will need to visit http://www.chester.ac.uk/international/your-country and select the appropriate country.

 

The essential requirements from the QAA benchmarks for an MSc in the computer science domain are used for programme design.

It should be clear from the specification of outcomes and the module structure that these requirements have been met in the design of this course. To summarise:

  1. There is a clear linkage between the identified outcomes and the title of the award.
  2. The programme is designed with an assumption that the student has no background in computer science but has premise of the ability to develop technical skills. The entire structure is built around a core in cybersecurity theory and practice, problem solving, and research methods, in order to guide students towards a level of expertise appropriate for the award of MSc.
  3. The theoretical foundations are clearly identified and incorporate such matters as cyber concepts and techniques, cyber related to business and organisations, software exploitation and protection methods including secure design, digital forensics, network security and penetration testing, and visualisation for cyber security aspects.
  4. Emphasis is based on the application of theory across the curriculum, encompassing both generic theories relating to computation itself and specific theories relating to applied areas of study. Related, practical case studies are to be found throughout both core and optional modules.
  5. The integration between modules has been carefully considered throughout and builds over a three term structure to equip students with the necessary knowledge, skills and expertise. In particular, a holistic view is fostered in the earlier terms before delving into more specialist areas, prior to and in parallel to the dissertation.
  6. An understanding of the students' work in relation to new developments in cybersecurity is required in all core modules, as well as the dissertation and many of the optional modules. 
  7. Later modules are designed to draw on combinations of competencies and skills gained in the earlier stages of the course.
  8. This can be summarised by the presence of the following:
    1. Critical analysis of current research.
    2. Comprehension and application of current techniques.
    3. Originality in application of principles.
    4. The ability to communicate complex concepts to a range of audiences.
    5. Self-direction in tackling problems.
  9. 180 credits are required for graduation at master's level. 

The development of the learning outcomes and reinforcement of the student learning experience is promoted through the following teaching and learning methods:

  • Lectures and workshops are the primary means of conveying academic material and information. Most of these are delivered in a hybrid form with each module leader adapting their methods to suit the topic being addressed on a given occasion. Consequently we may employ a mixture of student and teacher led activities including demonstrations, case studies, discussions and design and implementation exercises on an individual or group basis.
  • Student-led seminars & presentations are employed in many of our modules to provide our students with an opportunity to demonstrate knowledge and to respond to constructive criticism and questions. This strengthens the students' ability to defend a thesis or standpoint and challenges them to critically evaluate their own work as well as the work of others.
  • Guided independent study and literature review are vital aspects of our tuition incorporated into all modules. These form very important aspects of our research methods and dissertation modules as well as being incorporated into the independent study component of our subject specific delivery.
  • Group work is a true reflection of how work is conducted in industry and academia and forms part of our teaching and assessment methods. Typically, students work in small groups and will be given a brief to work towards, helping to develop personal skills as well as technical skills.
  • Dissertation work with individual supervision is a vital aspect of our programme requiring students to follow direction, work independently, identify and form a comprehensive knowledge of new directions in a subject area and demonstrate the potential to make an original contribution to the field.
  • Departmental research seminars are an important aspect of our postgraduate culture and students are encouraged both to attend and take part in these, in order to gain experience of the challenge of disseminating research to a wider community.


A particular strength of this programme is the range of different assessment strategies that are deployed to ensure that the student has the best opportunity to demonstrate the attainment of a learning outcome.

  • Written examinations are typically of 2 hours duration. The content of these exams is previously unseen by the student, and many modules use written exams to assess knowledge and understanding, and selected subject-specific intellectual skills. 
  • Coursework assignments are used throughout the curriculum where students are required to seek additional information so that they can develop and demonstrate their understanding of the course material. The exact form of assignment reflects the subject matter. In particular prototypes, coding assignments  and/or portfolios are used where the attainment of a subject specific practical skill is relevant. Essays, literature reviews and technical reports are used to develop a critical appreciation of the wider subject area and to encourage core research and dissemination skills. Coursework may constitute the only or the major form of assessment in some modules and can be conducted on an individual or group basis.
  • Peer Assessment is often used in modules that involve a substantial team-working element.  Normally, students will moderate the final marks for the group project to reflect the contributions of different team member to encourage full an equal participation by each student.  Students may also peer review other students' coursework to develop their critical thinking skills, but in this case, the quality of the peer review is assessed.
  • Oral presentations are often included as part of coursework assignments. These presentations allow students to develop their communication skills.
  • The dissertation is a vital aspect of the programme and is expected to demonstrate the potential to make a relevant, useful and original contribution to the subject domain. 

Formative Assessments do not contribute to the final marks achieved for each module, but provide an opportunity for students to monitor their own academic progress. They also provide a useful opportunity for lecturers to give feedback to the students and to monitor and improve the students learning experience. These assessments will take the form of diagnostic tests, in-class tests and on-line tests during lectures. Students will have opportunities to develop their oral and presentation skills during tutorials and workshops.

The programme provides the following skills:-

  • The ability to solve problems independently
  • The ability to manage and complete a significant project according to a fixed schedule
  • The comprehension of state of the art technologies and processes within the subject domain
  • Sufficient skills to undertake the communication and presentation of complex information to a variety of audiences

The cybersecurity field is rapidly expanding and includes jobs across industry and government.  Technical job roles include those in the field security, including network security, such as penetration and vulnerability testing, and software security.  These may be in the form of Consultation, Leadership roles with security awareness, Threat Management, Strategy, and other roles.

Specific job title examples directly targeted by this Master's programme include Security Consultant, Penetration Tester, Team Leader (with security expertise), Security Analyst, Security Architect, Threat Manager, Security Operations Centre (SOC) Analyst, IT Security Consultant, Theat analyst, and Risk manager, amongst others.

 

The University is committed to the promotion of diversity, equality and inclusion in all its forms; through different ideas and perspectives, age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. We are, in particular, committed to widening access to higher education. Within an ethically aware and professional environment, we acknowledge our responsibilities to promote freedom of enquiry and scholarly expression. 

The programme is delivered in English and provided the student has attained the defined standard there are no other cultural issues. 

As a technology-oriented degree there is a high likelihood that the majority of disabilities can be addressed using appropriate specialist hardware and software; individual applicants will be invited to discuss their individual needs with the programme leader and the applicant will be advised as to the provision that can be made for them, prior to accepting a place.

As this is a conversion course, the programme team will need to gauge technical competencies of the cohort before delivery of the programme. As such, there will be an optional pre-programme orientation course lasting approximately 2-3 weeks to help the programme team bring the cohort to a sufficient level of technical expertise before the course begins.

More details about this can be found in the programme handbook.

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