School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics

MSc Cyber Security

Cyber security is essential for all organisations, with hacking, malicious code and social engineering ever present threats to data. This programme provides holistic coverage of cyber security, from governance and policy, to cryptography, penetration testing and digital forensics. Grounded in core computer science, the programme develops the knowledge and skills to design, develop and manage secure systems to produce highly employable cyber security professionals.

Being very applied in nature, you will spend a significant proportion of your time in our Security and Forensics Laboratory putting theory in practice whilst working alongside world-leading academics.

Key features

  • Refreshed and updated curriculum for 2020/21, reflecting the changes to the cyber security industry, including a brand new Cyber Physical Systems Security module.
  • Benefit from world-leading research-active staff at the forefront of knowledge, conducting research within the Centre for Cyber Security, Communications and Network Research.
  • Strong alignment of learning to industry recognised certifications, such as AccessData Forensic Examiner (ACE), and EC-Council's Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH).
  • A significant focus upon practical laboratories using state-of-the-art security and forensic facilities.
  • Active Computer and Information Security Society (CISS) provide opportunities for networking, problem solving, speakers from industry as well as a valuable source of contacts.
  • Benefit from the courses extensive links with major professional bodies and societies such as the BCS, ISACA, IFIPTechnical Committee 11 and the Chartered Institute of Information Security.
  • Take the opportunity to make career inroads through strong industrial links with major organisations such as Kaspersky, Microsoft, IBM, National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), and various UK government departments.
  • Build on the foundation which this programme offers and take the opportunity to progress onto a research degree at MPhil or PhD level.
  • The University has been awarded Academic Partner status by the Chartered Institute of Information Security, in recognition of the significant base of security-related expertise within the institution. This link encourages and enables a dialogue between academia and the wider community of security practitioners.
  • Be confident studying a degree accredited by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT* (accreditation pending).

Course details

  • Programme overview
  • During your year of study you will gain an understanding of key topics such as security management, cryptography, network and system security, computer forensics, and protection in application scenarios. You'll also benefit from being taught a wide variety of hands-on skills, which enable you to implement, configure and manage many of the typical controls you will encounter in practice - including firewalls, intrusion detection systems, authentication and access mechanisms, and forensic case management tools. The project will enable you to explore and develop in-depth knowledge on a particular area of security. You'll become a subject expert and push the boundaries of the current understanding.

    Core modules
    • COMP5002 Security Operations & Incident Management

      This module will examine the incident management and the role it plays within modern information security systems. It will introduce key concepts in the analysis of network traffic for signs of intrusions, as well as the process of responding to computer incidents including the identification and analysis of malicious code.

    • COMP5003 Ethical Hacking

      Understanding the security and vulnerabilities of IT systems is critical in their protection. This module seeks to develop the knowledge and skills to undertake penetration testing of systems. A range of passive and active offensive techniques will be taught, alongside an in-depth understanding of the legal and ethical issues surrounding such activity.

    • COMP5004 Digital Forensics & Malware Analysis

      This module examines the procedures, tools and techniques utilised within the field of digital forensics. It will introduce an understanding of the methodology deployed in the handling of digial evidence, the volatility of data and maintaining the integrity of data. Knowledge and skills will be developed of tools and techniques to examine and analyse forensic data across differing computing platforms.

    • COMP5005 Security Architectures & Cryptography

      The ability to design secure systems is critical to the successful operation of any system. This module will develop the knowledge and understanding of security architectures, design principles (such as least privilege, default deny) and elicitation of security requirements to enable the design of secure systems. Core to this knowledge is the role cryptography can have in addressing these requirements.

    • COMP5006 Information Security Management & Governance

      This module looks at the issues surrounding the management and governance of information security within an organisational context. Consideration is given to the need for related policy, analysis of risk, and the management of organisational assets. Coverage also includes legal and personnel aspects of security, giving an overview of the wide range of laws and regulations governing systems & information security.

    • COMP5007 Cyber-Physical Systems Security

      This module looks at developing the necessary skills and techniques for analysing, critiquing and designing secure cyber-physical systems (CPS). Examples of CPS include the Internet of Things, transportation, robotics, maritime shipping and autonomous vehicles. Consideration is given to a systems-based approach to the security analysis of CPSs, the identification of vulnerabilities and the development of secure solutions.

    • PROJ518 MSc Dissertation and Research Skills

      You will develop a methodical approach to research that helps propose research projects that are practically realistic and academically worthwhile. A substantial project will be planned and carried out using ethically suitable quantitative and qualitative research methods. The project will be reported through a high quality, scholarly and professional write-up, either as a formal dissertation or journal paper.

Every postgraduate taught course has a detailed programme specification document describing the programme aims, the programme structure, the teaching and learning methods, the learning outcomes and the rules of assessment.

The following programme specification represents the latest programme structure and may be subject to change:

MSc Cyber Security Programme Specification 6566

The modules shown for this course or programme are those being studied by current students, or expected new modules. Modules are subject to change depending on year of entry.

Entry requirements

A 2:1 degree in computing or technical discipline. A lower degree classification may be considered if you can demonstrate a significant level of experience in the security area, with competence in computer programming. Professional experience may also be taken into consideration.

The minimum IELTS score for acceptable English proficiency for entry is 6.5 (with a minimum of 5.5 in each element).

English language requirements

No graduates of BSc (Hons) Cyber Security / Computer and Information Security from the University of Plymouth will be accepted.

Applicants with overseas qualifications can check their comparability with the UK equivalent through NARIC, which provides an advisory service.

We welcome applicants with international qualifications. To view other accepted qualifications please refer to our tariff glossary.

If your first language is not English then evidence of English proficiency is required. The level of proficiency that is required can vary with the type of programme for which you are applying. For further advice on the appropriateness of overseas qualification and proficiency in the use of English, please contact our International Office.

Fees, costs and funding

EU applicants should refer to our dedicated Brexit webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.

New Student 2020 2021
Home/EU £7,800 To be confirmed
International £11,800 To be confirmed
Part time (Home/EU) £450 To be confirmed
Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per 10 credits. Please note that fees are reviewed on an annual basis. Fees and the conditions that apply to them shown in the prospectus are correct at the time of going to print. Fees shown on the web are the most up to date but are still subject to change in exceptional circumstances. For more information about fees and funding please visit www.plymouth.ac.uk/money.

Alumnus loyalty reward for postgraduate study

The University applies a discretionary alumni reward where alumnus meet certain criteria on particular postgraduate taught courses.

  • a 20 per cent discount on home/EU tuition fees
  • or a £2,000 discount on international tuition fees.
  • a 10 per cent alumni discount is available on the following programmes: MSc Advanced Psychology, MSc Clinical Psychology, MSc/PgDip Psychology, MSc Physiotherapy (Pre-Reg) and MSc Occupational Therapy.

PGCE programmes, Master of Architecture, MChem, MEng, MGeol, MPsych, MSci, ResM, MSc Environmental Consultancy, MSc Sustainable Aquaculture, MSc Environmental Geochemistry and postgraduate research degrees are not included in this reward.

Please note that students must have applied directly to be eligible.

For further details, and contact information, please review our alumni discount policy.

Postgraduate scholarships for international students

We offer several scholarships for international students who wish to study postgraduate taught (PGT) degree programmes.

Find out about the postgraduate scholarships available to you as an international student

How to apply

When to apply

Most of our taught programmes begin in September. Applications can usually be made throughout the year, and are considered until programmes are full. 

Before you apply

Familiarise yourself with the information required to complete your application form. You will usually be required to supply:
  • evidence of qualifications (degree certificates or transcripts), with translations if not in English, to show that you meet, or expect to meet the entry requirements
  • evidence of English language proficiency, if English is not your first language
  • a personal statement of approximately 250-400 words about the reasons for your interest in the course and outlining the nature of previous and current related experience. You can write this into the online application form, or include it as a separate document
  • your curriculum vitae or résumé, including details of relevant professional/voluntary experience, professional registration/s and visa status for overseas workers
  • proof of sponsorship, if applicable.
If you require further information take a look at our application guidance.

Disability services

If you have a disability and would like further information about the support provided by University of Plymouth, please visit our Disability Services website. 

International students

Support is also available to overseas students applying to the University from our International Office via our how to apply webpage or email international-admissions@plymouth.ac.uk.

Submitting an application

Once you are happy that you have all of the information required you can apply using our online postgraduate application form (the blue 'Apply now' icon on this page).

What happens after I apply?

You will normally receive a decision on your application within four weeks of us receiving your application. You may be asked to provide additional information; two academic/professional references, confirming your suitability for the course; or to take part in an interview (which in the case of overseas students may be by telephone or video conference) and you will be sent a decision by letter or email.

We aim to make the application procedure as simple and efficient as possible. Our Admissions and Course Enquiries team is on hand to offer help and can put you in touch with the appropriate faculty if you wish to discuss any programme in detail.

If you would like any further information please contact the Admissions and Course Enquiries team:

Telephone: +44 (0)1752 585858
Email: admissions@plymouth.ac.uk 

Admissions policy

More information and advice for applicants can be referenced by downloading our Student Admissions Policy Prospective students are advised to read the policy before making an application to the University.

Dedicated laboratory facilities

As well as accessing our standard computing laboratories, you’ll be able to make extensive use of a 42-seat dedicated security and digital forensics laboratory, purpose-built to represent a range of network topologies and monitoring conditions.

Practical activities and tools used include: Webgoat, secure coding, analysis of honeynet challenges, scapy, nmap, metasploit, Snort, and FTK.

Pursue industry-recognised certification

Since 2012, eligible students have been provided with courseware and exam voucher scholarships to pursue the industry-recognised International Council of E-Commerce Consultants’ (EC-Council) Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) certification. 

Several of the computer and Information security students were also provided with additional one-week intensive training based on the CEH courseware.

You can also get access to the AccessData Certified Examiner (ACE) courseware, to improve your proficiency with Forensic Toolkit FTK.

Research in cyber security

This programme is closely linked with research activities within the Centre for Cyber Security, Communications and Network Research (CSCAN)

The taught materials are delivered by academics with an international reputation for research and teaching in information security. In addition to having strong research backgrounds, our academics are also practitioners holding many professional qualifications in the area (e.g. SANS GIAC Intrusion Analyst, IEEE Certified Biometrics Professional and AccessData Certified Examiner). 

This mixture of theory, research and practice is imperative within the programme to ensure you remain knowledgeable, relevant and marketable to future employers. The centre also provides opportunities for further study with over 50 PhD students, many of whom are focused upon developing the next generation of security systems.

Computer and Information Security Society (CISS)

You’ll get the chance to join the active student-led Computer and Information Security Society (CISS), which organises additional seminars and other activities in order to further enhance your experience at Plymouth.

Previous activities have included a trip to the historic WWII code-breaking centre at Bletchley Park.

Industry participation and endorsement

Plymouth's security degree provides a really strong foundation for those looking for a career in the industry.

Ram Herkanaidu (Kaspersky Lab’s UK Education Manager)

Find out more industry participation and endorsement

People