Forensic Information Technology
Learn to defend against security hacks and cybercrime
Why take this course?
Forensic information technology (FIT) is the scientific use or application of information technology (IT) in the generation and presentation of digital evidence to be used in courts, legal or other formal proceedings.
This course will enable you to develop your understanding and application of security issues and cybercrime for the purpose of forensic computing and investigation.
What will I experience?
On this course you can:
- Learn how to investigate hacking, fraud and deception using a range of digital forensic tools
- Practise identifying intruders' trails and suspected inappropriate use of internet applications in order to compile scientific evidence to prosecute
- Manage a real-life computer engineering project using appropriate techniques for writing and reasoning about security policies
What opportunities might it lead to?
Many police investigations or civil disputes involve investigation of computer systems, mobile phones or other information devices, and there are an increasing number of UK companies that undertake investigations as consultants. You can expect to find career opportunities in such companies as well as in law enforcement and other services.
Accredited by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT for the purposes of fully meeting the further learning academic requirement for registration as a Chartered IT Professional (CITP). This course also partially meets the academic requirement for registration, either as a Chartered Scientist (CSci) or (on behalf of the Engineering Council) as a Chartered Engineer (CEng)*.
*On condition that the Master's Engineering Project is successfully completed.
The mobile laboratory is one of the best I've seen. The practicals are based on real-life scenarios which are great and we also benefit from speakers from top mobile companies.
Nkem Nzemeke, computing student 2013
- 1 year full time, 3 years part time
- 2017 entry requirements
- A second-class honours degree in a relevant subject, including Computer Sciences, Legal or Social Sciences, or equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.0 with no component score below 5.5.
UK/EU/Channel Islands and Isle of Man students
2017/18 entry: full time: £5,200, part time: £1,730 p/a*
2017/18 entry: full time: £14,400, part time: £4,800 p/a*
*Tuition fee is subject to annual increase.
+44 (0)23 9284 5566
- School of Computing
- Programme specification
- Accreditations & Endorsements
Structure & Teaching
You will study four key topics which will collaboratively develop your knowledge and ability to carry out forensic IT investigations as well as an introduction on how to build protected specification software for data and other web applications. You will also get to build your own test system as part of your final project.
Here are the units you will study:
- Computer Forensic Investigation and Cryptography: This unit covers the practical aspects of conducting a forensic investigation of digital evidence. In order for the students to develop a critical understanding of computer forensics, a holistic approach of the forensics investigation process is adopted, with a full investigation ‘life cycle’ from seizure of evidence through to giving evidence in court as an expert witness. We look at a range of tools, operating systems and devices. This unit also includes the main aspects of cryptography and steganalysis that are relevant for the discovery and recovery of hidden information.
- Computer Security: The unit provides an introduction to computer security concepts and their practical application, in both closed and interconnected networks. Students are expected to both understand and be able to critically evaluate different approaches to securing complex computer systems.
- Cybercrime Security and Risk Management: This unit provides opportunities for participants to develop skills and knowledge in the understanding of corporate cyber threats. Drawing upon a range of practical examples, students will examine how rapid technological development and expansion in access to the internet has impacted upon crime (e.g. how anonymity and unfounded trust encourage deception), mapping out the terrain of information technology, and identifying the emerging areas of cyber crime. Areas explored will include the crossing of established boundaries into spaces over which control has already been established such as cyber-intrusion and cyber-theft, but also 'new cyber crimes' in the form of virtual trespass, Denial of Service attacks, and the development of opportunities for offending in the context of social networking websites. The final section of the unit will examine how education and organisational responses can prevent victimisation and mitigate IT risk.
- Master's Project: You will undertake either an engineering unit or a study project, during the summer period. The project offers students the opportunity to apply the taught material in the solution of a real-world problem directly related to their course. The engineering project usually involves building a piece of software to solve a problem. An example of the sort of thing you might do would be building a tool to address a specific forensics requirement. The study project usually involves undertaking a study of an IT domain relevant to forensics. To prepare for this the project includes a number of preparatory sessions, which contribute to part of your final mark. This part of the project enables students to acquire essential skills in research methods and communication, and to consider the professional issues related to their work.
Specialist optional units include:
- Systems, Security and Data Analysis: The first part of the unit provides an overview of computer organisation, operating systems and network design, with a strong focus on security considerations and aspects relevant to computer and digital forensics. The early part of the unit will provide an introduction to relevant issues in system architecture and file system organisation. Threats to computer systems will be considered. The first half of the unit is concluded with studying in some depth current technologies for securing real computer networks. The second part of the unit deals with the important topic of data analytics. Many organisations are now rapidly accumulating large volumes of data that defy traditional methods of data analysis, and yet often have important relationships concealed within them. The emerging field of data mining combines techniques of machine learning, expert systems, databases and statistics to create a new generation of intelligent and automated tools, which are already being applied in many areas of business, science and government.
- Advanced Programming Skills for the Web: This unit draws together a number of system development skills, focusing on how they can be applied to the development specifically of web applications. Topics covered include web programming, connecting databases to web applications, software tools, testing and security.
Teaching and Assessment
You will be taught through a combination of practical exercises, simulations, lectures, guest lectures and formative assessments, and will be expected to use a wide range of on and offline learning tools.
How are you assessed?
You will encounter a range of assessment styles depending on the content and nature of the unit topic. This can include written assignments, presentations as well as group and individual lab-based assessments. However, the most significant assessment element is the final dissertation, which reports and reflects on your final project.
Facilities & Features
Specialist Software and Equipment
A full range of industry software will be available for you to use in the computer labs, supported by multi-platform network suites offering a variety of operating systems. You’ll have a range of excellent resources at your fingertips including:
- mobile computing lab to develop Android and iOS apps
- pervasive computing lab for high performance computing
- usability lab including state of the art eye tracking equipment
- Linux and Windows systems
- forensics lab with industry standard forensic tools
A key strength of this course is the close association between the University’s School of Computing and our Institute of Criminal Justice Studies. This gives the course a rounded approach to the subject, which places technical aspects of forensic investigation into a broader criminal justice context. You can even contribute to simulated trials in our Mock Courtroom, giving digital evidence in the framework of a formal legal proceeding.
You’ll benefit from organised lectures from visiting speakers with industrial experience and members of the course team are working with the Chartered Institute of IT in the formation of the Cybercrime Forensics Specialist Group. We also have staff trained in specialist software and investigation techniques by commercial organisations such as 7Safe Security and Access Data. This all contributes to providing you with an insight into the current issues and methods within the field of digital forensics.
Modern, comfortable and a great learning environment, our library offers a wealth of information including 400,000 books, DVDs, maps and thousands of online ejournals and newspapers. Many electronic resources are available anywhere, 24/7 and our friendly staff are always on hand to help.
We also subscribe to the Association of Computer Machinery (ACM) Digital Library, which will give you access to full text articles from leading computing and computer science journals.
Budgeting for your studies
There may be extra costs arising from your studies which you will need to consider when planning your expenditure.
Some are common costs to all courses of study. These may include the cost of study texts, reference books, photocopying and computer supplies. Others relate to specific courses and may include field trips, materials and specialist equipment.
Careers & Opportunities
On completing this course, you will be equipped to seek employment in the following areas: IT auditing, information security, independent investigation, Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERT) and law enforcement agencies. Some of our previous graduates have been successful in finding employment within high-tech crime units, commercial investigation and national security bodies, while others go on to further research study at PhD level.
This course will also appeal to already practising professionals in related areas such as law enforcement, system administration, corporate security, IS auditing or security analysis and management for the commercial sector.
One of the benefits of studying at Portsmouth is the support that we provide to our Master's and Research Degree students in career planning. Our careers and recruitment service can assist you in career research and finding employment opportunities. Help is also available if you wish to find a part-time job while studying your degree.
We offer our postgraduate students and alumni one-to-one appointments with a careers adviser, or an online service for those not able to travel back to the University. Our alumni can call on our career services for five years after graduation.
In addition, regular employability events offer you the chance to meet employers, find out about different career sectors and improve your applications or CV. The Graduate Summer Programme provides a range of guidance and employability seminars and workshops.
Benefits of Postgraduate Study
Regardless of whether you are seeking to build on your studies, further your career or pursue a career change, a postgraduate qualification adds to your achievement record.
- Postgraduate study may greatly improve your chances of getting that first break.
- Many graduate employers prefer the higher intellectual rigour displayed in postgraduate students.
- Recruiters for roles requiring specialist knowledge or research particularly target those with higher level qualifications.
- Postgraduate study shows you can take the challenge of in-depth study; acquiring transferable skills in team working and problem solving techniques.
- If you have a passion for a particular subject, postgraduate study can also be something undertaken as part of your own development at an appropriate time in your life.
Online application form
Apply direct using our online form
Your application will be received by the University Admissions Centre for consideration.
Postgraduate Information Days
Our Postgraduate Information Days for 2017 entry have now finished. If you would like to meet or speak with a member of staff about any courses you are interested in, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will arrange this for you.
We will confirm the dates of events related to 2018 entry soon.
Other opportunities to visit
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If you are unable to visit us, contact the admissions team – see the 'Key Facts' section above for contact details.
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Fees and Funding
Find out more about fees and funding available to you at Portsmouth.