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MSc Cyber Security

Develop a wide-ranging and comprehensive skill set in effective cyber security measures, threats and technologies.

2018/19 entry

Length

1 year full-time

Start date

September 2018 (term dates)

Fee discount

If you've completed an undergraduate degree at York you could be eligible for a 10% Masters fee discount.

Find out more

Security of our systems is one of the most challenging topics of our time. There is an international consensus that in order to respond to the number and sophistication of threats that we face, the level of security skills we have needs to be increased.

This is a forward-looking course that will give you the skills and knowledge you need in the core areas of cyber security. You'll learn the theories, principles, practices and technologies of cyber security and gain knowledge and understanding of the principles underpinning effective approaches to cyber defence.

The course emphasises important technical material that will help you make effective cyber security decisions, and addresses issues such as: identity; trust and reputation; cryptography; network security; malware and intrusion detection; risk management; and the development of high assurance systems.

If you are interested in pursuing a career in industry or government, this course will provide you with a broad education in cyber security, which will allow you to make technically informed principled decisions.

This course will also prepare you if you are seeking a research career in cyber security; a research skills module is a mandatory part of the course.

You can also choose to apply for an internship, which will begin after your course has finished.

The first half of the course is taken up by taught modules. Each module comprises a mix of lectures, problem classes and practical classes, plus personal study time. In the second half of the course, you will undertake an individual research project under the supervision of a member of staff.

Accreditation

The University of York is one of only 12 universities in the UK to have received full certification from the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) for its MSc in Cyber Security. More information.

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Employment

​97% of our students achieve employment or go on to further study within six months of graduating.

REF 2014

In the 2014 REF, our research ranked 7th overall in the UK, 5th for impact and 6th for environment

Teaching

Our staff are at the cutting edge of their fields and we maintain strong links with industry.

Course content

You will graduate with a detailed understanding of the fundamental aspects of cyber security. A key areas of emphasis is the important technical material that you need to understand in order to make effective cyber security decisions.

You will gain a full understanding of extant threats to current and emerging system types, and become familiar with a range of technologies that can help to reduce risks.

This course is made up of eight assessed modules taught in week-long blocks, plus an individual project module.

Dissertation

As part of this course you will undertake an individual project and dissertation. This takes place over the summer and is supervised by a member of academic staff. It may involve working with an external organisation. You will be encouraged to work with academic staff to create projects which are of specific interest to you and the staff member you are working with.

You will be given considerable flexibility in the topics you can choose to base your project around, providing academic criteria are met. To ensure you reach your goals, your project will be assessed at an early stage to ensure that it is suitable for study at this level. Many previous projects undertaken have followed naturally from the taught material, however, your project may also investigate suitably challenging topics outside that material if you wish.

At the end of this period of study you will be asked to produce a dissertation and a conference paper length summary of the work.

The project work is worth 5/9 of the mark for the course in total.

The York approach

Every course at York is built on a distinctive set of learning outcomes. These will give you a clear understanding of what you will be able to accomplish at the end of the course and help you explain what you can offer employers. Our academics identify the knowledge, skills, and experiences you'll need upon graduation and then design the course to get you there. Find out more about our approach to teaching and learning.

Students who complete this course will be able to:

  • Apply specialist principles associated with cyber security, such as: cryptanalysis, attack, authentication, identity, trust, and anonymity, in order to determine systems' security vulnerabilities.
  • Analyse and evaluate the technological components of current and proposed cyber systems, which include computers, algorithms, and networks, from the perspective of their security properties.
  • Identify, analyse and assess the range of threats to cyber systems from practical and theoretical viewpoints.
  • Evaluate and design systems-level solutions to security weaknesses in cyber systems posed by technological and non-technical (human) factors.
  • Form reasoned judgments, based on evidence, regarding the particular legal, social, and professional issues involved in the deployment, management, and analysis of cyber security systems. This includes forensic analysis of attacked systems, and appreciation of the regulatory and cultural constraints relevant to cyber security.
  • Explain, through oral presentations and written papers, complex technical ideas and arguments to peer specialists and more general audiences.
  • Scope, plan, execute and manage significant cyber-security research projects and produce focussed stakeholder reports.
  • Maintain knowledge of developments in cyber security by accessing, interpreting, evaluating and synthesising data and arguments from up-to-date research literature from related areas and technical manuals and standards specifications.

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees for 2018/19

Study modeUK/EUInternational
Full-time (1 year)£7,940£20,910

Additional costs

There are unlikely to be any mandatory additional costs associated with the course, although you may want to set aside £200 for optional photocopying and personal stationery over the duration of the course.

Fees information

UK/EU or international fees? The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK/EU or international student.

Funding information

Discover your funding options to help with tuition fees and living costs.

If you've successfully completed an undergraduate degree at York you could be eligible for a 10% Masters fee discount.

Home/EU students

International students

Living costs

You can use our living costs guide to help plan your budget. It covers accommodation costs and estimated social costs.

Teaching and assessment

You’ll work with world‐leading academics who’ll challenge you to think independently and excel in all that you do. Our approach to teaching will provide you with the knowledge, opportunities, and support you need to grow and succeed in a global workplace. Find out more about our approach to teaching and learning.

Teaching format

The first half of the course is taken up by taught modules. Each module comprises a mix of lectures, problem classes and practical classes, plus personal study time. In the second half of the course, you'll undertake an individual research project under the supervision of a member of staff.

Throughout the course you will have a personal tutor and be part of a tutorial group, usually comprising five or fewer students. Your personal tutor will provide academic and pastoral advice throughout your course. When you undertake your individual project, you will be allocated a supervisor within your area of interest. The taught modules will take place in the Autumn and Spring terms. During your break between these two terms, you should expect to be working on open assessments.

Work on your individual project will start at the beginning of April, and you will receive regular one-to-one supervisions throughout the Summer term. You will continue to work on your individual project over the Summer term and the vacation, and there will be continuing supervision and research-group meetings to discuss your project. You will finish the course when you hand in your dissertation and paper for your project in September.

Due to the intensive nature of the course, you will need to be in York throughout term time and over the summer whilst you undertake your dissertation.

Facilities

Built to the highest specifications, the department is packed with cutting-edge facilities housed in a modern, self-contained building.

The department houses four software labs and two hardware labs. 

Our Interaction Labs provide excellent facilities for research and teaching in human-computer interaction. The Interaction Labs consist of an Accessibility and Usability Lab and a Games Research Lab, both of which are stocked with the latest technologies.

Our Real Time Systems Lab is the main research and development facility for the Real Time Systems research group. Inside the lab is a range of high-performance computers, custom hardware like FPGAs, robots, and various industrial machinery.

The Computer Vision group have a darkroom laboratory which enables us to conduct experiments in controlled illumination conditions and a second laboratory which includes a commercial 3D scanner. 

Our Robotics Laboratory is a purpose-built laboratory used for various robotics research projects and teaching. Within it, there is a dedicated student working area, with workstations and electronics bench equipment, alongside the main 80m2 robotics arena. The arena features a 5.5m high ceiling allowing drone experiments to take place alongside ground-based robots. Special tracking systems are installed to allow positional data of the robots to be extracted. There is also a workshop area with CAD, soldering and 3D printing facilities.

Find out more about our facilities, including a video tour showing our labs, teaching and research spaces.

Teaching location

Computer Science is based on Campus East. The majority of teaching on this course takes place on Campus East in the Computer Science building and Ron Cooke Hub.

Course location

Our beautiful green campus offers a student-friendly setting in which to live and study, within easy reach of the action in the city centre. It's easy to get around campus - everything is within walking or pedalling distance, or you can always use the fast and frequent bus service.

Assessment and feedback

All taught modules on this course are examined by open assessments. The assessment paper is published at the end of the week of teaching, and you will be required to submit your answers typically two weeks later. This type of assessment allows you to engage with the research literature and gives us the chance to assess your practical skills.

Once you have successfully completed the taught modules, you will undertake an extensive individual project. Here you will work on an identified cyber security topic, and document the results in a report. Additionally, you will be required to present the project report in a conference style paper.

Assessments will take place at various times during the year. Practical exercises, reports and other forms of open assessment will be due either during the course module or just after its completion.

Careers and skills

This course will prepare you for a career in the field of cyber security. It will also equip you with the relevant skills to undertake further research in the area.

Previous graduates have gone on to technical roles, such as malware analysis, security design, penetration testing and broader roles such as risk assessment, security planning, or security consultancy. Some previous students have returned to their home countries to teach security, and others have gone on to study for a PhD.

Some of our part-time students who are already working in defence, technical security, forensics, commerce and system administration have used the course to specialise in a particular area or further their careers.

Career opportunities

  • counter-terrorism
  • cryptography
  • cyber and digital forensics
  • development and code analysis
  • incident response
  • intelligence operations
  • law, legalities and compliance
  • network security
  • penetration testing
  • policy and strategy
  • research and new developments
  • secure software
  • security architecture
  • security auditing
  • vulnerability assessment.

Transferable skills

You will gain the ability to:

  • Interpret, evaluate and synthesise data and arguments from up-to-date research literature, technical manuals and standards specifications.
  • Communicate complex technical ideas and arguments to peer specialists and general audiences, through oral presentations and written reports.
  • Scope, plan, execute and manage complex technical projects.
  • Assess and consider the impact of legal, social and professional issues in the development and operation of technical systems.
  • Analyse the work of others in order to achieve defined goals.

Entry requirements

Qualification Grade
Degree

This course is suitable for you if you have a Computer Science related degree and if you already possess a strong computer science, software engineering or information technology background. Typically, you will have achieved at least an upper second class honours degree (or international equivalent).

Other qualifications

English language

If your native language is not English you must provide evidence of your English language ability:

  • IELTS: at least 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in each component
  • PTE: 61, with no less than 55 in each component
  • TOEFL: 87, with no less than 21 in each component
  • Trinity ISE: level 3 with Merit in all components

We also accept other English Language Tests.

Students who have successfully completed a recent undergraduate degree at a UK University are exempt from the English Language requirement.

You may also want to attend the University's Pre-sessional courses.

Applying

You can apply and send all your documentation electronically through our online system. You don’t need to complete your application all at once: you can start it, save it and finish it later.

Apply for this course

Next steps

Contact us

Contact our admissions team if you have any questions

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Department of Computer Science

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