Cyber Security Masters/MSc

Masters/MSc postgraduate degree course in Cyber Security:

Computing infrastructure is now vital for communication, government, commerce, and control of our physical environment, and is a potential target of terrorist and criminal attacks. Graduates who understand the technologies and practices that underpin secure computer systems are in great and ever-growing demand.

This programme will give you the skills you need to deal with current and future cyber security threats. It provides a solid foundation for graduates to pursue a career in the software industry or research.

The programme has received full GCHQ accreditation and the University has been officially recognised as an ‘Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research’ (ACE-CSR) by the UK government.

The recognition of Birmingham as an ACE-CSR signifies the consistently high-quality research being conducted in the Security and Privacy group at the University. The group has expanded greatly in recent years, reflecting the University's continued commitment to supporting world-leading research into cyber security issues affecting industry, government and society.

Cyber security is about designing systems that resist attack. As computers become ever more prevalent and ever more connected with each other, the opportunities for attackers become even greater, and the need to resist them becomes more urgent. 

Hear from Dr David Oswald

This is a one-year full-time degree programme for graduates in a computing-related discipline. It will allow students to obtain the knowledge and expertise to evaluate, designand build secure computer systems, processes and people that are involved in cyber security. It covers the theory and practice of designing and building secure systems and gives you a firm grounding in cryptography, network security and secure programming, as well as optional modules in topics such as hardware and embedded system security, operating systems and incident management and forensics.

The programme also gives you practical experience with technologies and toolkits for building internet-based software. All students undertake a large, personally supervised project in the final months of the course.

Our curriculum has been developed with the involvement of key individuals in the cyber security industry. As well as advising us on the skills they seek when recruiting graduates, they also contribute directly to the MSc programme through guest lectures and project supervision. In recent years, we have had guest lecturers from Microsoft, Vodafone, Siemens, IBM and Hewlett Packard.

Why study this course

The programme has received full certification by GCHQ and the University has been officially recognised by NCSC-EPSRC as an ‘Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research’ (ACE-CSR) by the UK government; an accolade that is a testament to the School’s first rate research and work.

Our curriculum has been developed with the involvement of key individuals in the cyber security industry. As well as advising us on the skills they seek when recruiting graduates, they also contribute directly through guest lectures and project supervision.

Companies including Microsoft, Vodafone, Siemens, IBM and Hewlett Packard come onto campus to talk directly to our students.

Hear from Georgios about the course

Birmingham is one of the leading universities in the country for postgraduate study in computer science, and we are proud to deliver outstanding programmes that offer a range of exciting career opportunities for students from around the world.

Why choose Birmingham?

  • State-of-the-art, multi-million-pound facilities include dedicated laboratories for Computer Science students, a teaching laboratory for Robotics, and research laboratories for Security, Medical Imaging Intelligent Robotics and Computer Vision
  • We are a partner in The Alan Turing Institute, the UK's national institute for data science and artificial intelligence
  • Our Security and Privacy Group is recognised as an EPSRC/GCHQ Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research and we have a strong collaboration with the Centre for Computational Biology (CCB)
  • Our teaching is consistently ranked highly in all reputable league tables and guides and we have the highest possible rating from the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education

Award-winning development

At the School of Computer Science we are not just renowned for teaching and research excellence. We also produce novel solutions for real-world applications, including:

  • Working with Jaguar Land Rover to make their vehicles more secure
  • Contributing to the development of the Trusted Platform Module which makes many of our computers capable of secure cryptographic operations
  • Deploying autonomous, intelligent robots in security and health support facilities
  • Developing a revolutionary, award-winning method for diagnosing skin cancer


The MSc programme offers a broad range of modules with which to tailor your course to your own specific interests.

Compulsory modules

  • Cryptography - 10 credits
  • Designing secure systems  - 10 credits
  • Forensics and Malware Analysis  - 10 credits
  • Network security (Extended)  - 10 credits
  • Secure programming  - 10 credits
  • Secure system management  - 10 credits
  • Research project  - 60 credits

Optional modules

Choose 60 credits. Examples of optional module are listed below:

  • Advanced Cryptography - 10 credits
  • Compilers and languages (Extended) - 10 credits
  • Computer-Aided Verification (Extended) - 10 credits
  • Hardware and embedded systems security - 10 credits
  • Individual study 2 - 10 credits
  • Intelligent Data Analysis (Extended) - 10 credits
  • Mobile & Ubiquitous Computing (Extended)
  • Networks (Extended) - 20 credits
  • Operating systems (Extended) - 20 credits
  • Penetration testing - 10 credits
  • Security research seminar - 10 credits

For further information, including any pre-requisite knowledge, please visit the Computer Science website.

This MSc has been fully certified by GCHQ. Students following the certified pathway should take the following modules:

    • Cryptography - 10 credits
    • Designing secure systems  - 10 credits
    • Forensics and Malware Analysis  - 10 credits
    • Hardware and embedded systems security
    • Network security (Extended)  - 10 credits
    • Penetration testing
    • Secure programming  - 10 credits
    • Secure system management  - 10 credits
    • Research project  - 60 credits

Plus 30 credits of further optional modules.

Please note: The modules listed on the website for this programme are regularly reviewed to ensure they are up-to-date and informed by the latest research and teaching methods.

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees for 2019/20:

  • UK/EU students: £9,250
  • International students: £22,500

Learn more about fees and funding.

Scholarships and studentships

We offer a range of postgraduate scholarships for taught programmes and research opportunities to ensure the very best talent is nurtured and supported at postgraduate level.

Additional scholarships can be found in the funding database.

Contact the department for further information.

For further information about scholarships for our postgraduate taught programmes visit

For students applying for the 2020/21 academic year

The UK Government has confirmed that EU students will continue to be eligible for 'home fee status' for entry in September 2020, and will continue to have access to financial support available via student loans for the duration of their course. For more information take a look at the website.

Entry requirements

A 2:1 Honours degree in a relevant subject (eg, Computer Science or a closely related discipline) or international equivalent in Computer Science or a closely related discipline. A solid foundation in programming and knowledge of data structures and algorithms, in particular, knowledge of object-oriented programming will be a strong asset.

Students who have not studied in English must pass a recognised English test. Learn more about entry requirements

Additional information:

We want to recruit students with intellectual curiosity who want to develop their skills in analysing the security vulnerabilities of systems and designing secure systems. To join this programme, you should:

  • enjoy thinking about systems the way an attacker would
  • be capable of logical thinking, to design systems that avoid security flaws
  • enjoy programming (preferably in object-oriented languages)
  • be capable of working hard on difficult projects
  • be willing and able to contribute to group work
  • have the ability to set your own goals and manage your time
  • be self-critical and be able to evaluate your own performance fairly
  • have good communication skills and be able to explain your ideas in presentations and in writing

International students:

English language

For students whose first language is not English, one of the following English language qualifications are required:

  • IELTS: 6.0 overall, with 5.5 minimum band score
  • TOEFL: 80 overall with no less than 19 in Reading, 19 in Listening, 21 in Speaking and 19 in Writing
  • PTE Academic: 51 in all four skills

Further information about postgraduate English language requirements, including alternative qualifications considered and Pre-Sessional English.

How to apply

International applicants

Please note that applications to this programme from students who are international for fees will close at midnight on 02 June 2019. Any applications that have already been submitted before 03 June will considered as normal. 

Places are still available for the MSc Computer Science programme at our Dubai Campus. Please visit this page to find out about the programme and make an application.

Applications will reopen for 2020 in October 2019. We will close applications as soon as the programme is full, early applications are encouraged.

UK/EU applicants

The application deadline is Thursday 12 September 2019. Applications will reopen for 2020 on Monday 30 September 2019.

Before you make your application

You may wish to register your interest with us to receive regular news and updates on postgraduate life within this Department and the wider University.

Making your application

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

The programme includes lectures, tutorials, exercise classes, practical work, projects and independent study.

You will gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • the essential facts, concepts, principles and theories relating to computer security
  • appropriate theory, practices and tools for the design, implementation and evaluation of secure computer systems
  • appropriate theory, practices and processes for the management and governance of cyber security in industry

You will also attain the following skills and attributes:

  • the ability to apply the knowledge and understanding noted above to the analysis of a given information handling problem
  • the ability to specify, design and construct secure computer systems, using appropraite tools, and to document all stages of this process
  • the ability to discover vulnerabilities in implementations
  • the ability to evaluate internet-based software systems in relation to given computer security requirements
  • the ability to work independently on a substantial software project
  • management of learning and development, including time management, organisational skills and the ability to pursue independently further development of your IT education

The MSc in Cyber Security is a new  programme, but graduates of the MSc in Computer Security have gone on to work for Companies including Accenture, IBM, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, BT and Delcam.

Our students gain the knowledge to become leaders in the field of cyber security and to shape the technologies that will be developed in the future. They are equipped to work on secure software development within the software and IT industry, or to become cyber security consultants. They may also choose to move on to PhD research.

University Careers Network

Preparation for your career should be one of the first things you think about as you start university. Whether you have a clear idea of where your future aspirations lie or want to consider the broad range of opportunities available once you have a Birmingham degree, our Careers Network can help you achieve your goal.

Our unique careers guidance service is tailored to your academic subject area, offering a specialised team (in each of the five academic colleges) who can give you expert advice. Our team source exclusive work experience opportunities to help you stand out amongst the competition, with mentoring, global internships and placements available to you. Once you have a career in your sights, one-to-one support with CVs and job applications will help give you the edge.

If you make the most of the wide range of services you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.