Forensic information technology student labelling an evidence bag wearing gloves

Mode of Study

Full-time, Part-time

Duration

1 year full-time (September start), 16 months full-time (January start), 3 years part-time

Start date

January 2023, September 2023, January 2024

Overview

Prevent and prosecute digital crime, by shaping your IT skills for a connected business world that craves your expertise. 

You'll study twin, linked disciplines on this Master's: cyber security – protecting data and systems from cyber attack, and forensic information technology – detecting and collecting digital evidence of criminal activity. You'll explore methods used by hackers, and how to prevent or combat them. You'll also learn the procedures to follow after an attack, and how to present this information to investigators or court officials. 

In our computer labs and forensic facilities, you'll infect a virtual machine with a virus of your own, overcome anti-forensic tools that try to hide evidence of crime, and make a mock arrest of a cybercriminal. You'll dig into cryptography, hacking and formal computer languages, such as Linux. 

When you graduate, you'll be set to enter a sector with a massive need for trained cyber security and forensic information technology professionals. UK government figures from 2022 show 50% of businesses acknowledge having a skills gap in cyber security and forensics, which you'll be ideally placed to fill.

Study online

If you need more flexibility with your studies, you can study MSc Cyber Security and Digital Forensics online. Find out about studying this degree online. 

The University of Portsmouth is ranked 5th of the modern universities for research quality in computer science and informatics

Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021

Read more about our computer science research

Eligibility

This course accepts UK, EU, and international students.

Course highlights

  • Master parallel disciplines in digital security and forensic investigation, and expand your career options in a connected world that needs cyber skills more than ever
  • Use our specialist facilities, including multi-platform network suites, pervasive computing lab for high performance computing, usability lab with eye-tracking equipment, forensics lab and crime scene simulations
  • Investigate real-life case studies, identify digital trails, compile evidence and engage with ethical hacking, using current forensic tools and systems such as AccessData, Cellebrite and Tryhackme
  • Explore contemporary cybersecurity issues: blockchain and cryptocurrency, money laundering, the Internet of Things, drones, and anti-forensic techniques
  • Design and deliver your own forensic IT engineering or study project, shaping this Master's to your interests
  • Learn formal logic, Linux and symbolic notation used in digital forensics and cyber security
BCS accreditation logo

Accreditation

This course is accredited by the British Computer Society (The Chartered Institute for IT), partially meeting the educational requirement for CITP and CEng.

What you'll study

Full-time

On this full-time MSc Cyber Security and Forensic Information Technology course, you'll study 4 core modules, and choose a further optional module.

What you'll learn

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • Formulate, organise and implement investigations on digital media, whilst applying appropriate procedures for acquiring, imaging, preserving and analysing the seized artefacts.
  • Critically evaluate the main techniques of cryptography and cryptanalysis, and overcome or exploit them in the context of securing systems and extracting evidence from hidden data.
  • Explain the underlying architecture and the theory of operating systems used in digital media storage, and critically research other fields of digital forensics in context of new technologies and methodologies.
  • Construct a computer crime case and manage its progress through the justice system within ethical boundaries.
  • Prepare, manage and plan a court case in a group as leader or member, negotiating, collaborating and handling conflicts in evidence extraction with confidence by exploiting the capacities of group members.

Explore this module

What you'll learn

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • Analyse and appraise research-based knowledge at the forefront of mobile forensic analysis
  • Creatively or divergently, apply comprehensive understanding of mobile forensic techniques and methodologies to produce a new or original solution in a forensics investigation
  • Appraise and manage the implications of ethical dilemmas in the domain on mobile device use and their forensic analysis in an organisational context
  • Understand and evaluate research and applied methodologies, and argue alternative approaches
  • Organise manage and plan work in a group as leader or member, clarifying tasks and making appropriate use of the capacities of group members. Negotiating and handling conflict with confidence
  • Understand the theory and organisation of mobile phones technology, and the architecture of sim cards and security protocols deployed

Explore this module

What you'll learn

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • Explain and analyse the structures of operating systems, file systems and network organisations from the point of view of data security and digital investigations
  • Critically review the different approaches and techniques used in the design of secure computer systems
  • Critically examine and reason about the current security protocols and policies deployed in complex computer systems
  • Critically evaluate and implement ethical hacking techniques
  • Analyse the key issues underlying ethical hacking and alternative approaches

Explore this module

What you'll learn

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • Investigate and solve a significant practical or (discipline) theoretical problem arising out of the material in their current programme of studies.
  • Plan, manage, evaluate and reflect upon a significant project over an extended period of time.
  • Critically appraise and reflect upon the range of methods, data collection and analysis, in research related to their field and in relation to the dissertation.
  • Select and apply to research, appropriate research methods and apply them to their problems, showing awareness of relevant ethical, social, professional and legal factors.
  • Evaluate and critique research material effectively in the solution of the problem.
  • Assemble a coherent presentation of the outcomes of a masters level project in written and oral form.

Explore this module

On this full-time MSc Cyber Security and Forensic Information Technology course, you'll study 4 core modules, and choose a further optional module.

What you'll learn

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • To develop a critical awareness of the concepts of globalisation, risk and security in relation to cyberspace.
  • To create a holistic understanding of the nature of cybersecurity threats facing organisations and states
  • To estimate the diverse cybersecurity threats and responses, in relation to organisations and states.
  • To appraise the challenges of national cybersecurity strategies.
  • To develop an integrated interdisciplinary understanding of approaches to managing cyber-risks
  • To assess the impact of global cybersecurity governance.

Explore this module

Additional content
The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the different types of financial data, reports and business decision making process
  • Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of data warehouse design, multi-dimensional modelling, cloud-based data warehousing, OLAP, aiming to support better business decision making
  • Use your data warehouse understanding to successfully query and gain business insights about a number of different data sets
  • Apply suitable data visualisation techniques for a given business analysis task
  • Summarise and present financial data and insights

Explore this module

Additional content
The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Explain main scale-out and Big Data system architectures
  • Explain the methods and algorithms used for dealing with big data
  • Independently apply big data skills to new domains and problems

Explore this module

What you'll learn

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • Appraise the different properties attained by the specification and design of security protocols.
  • Create and critique access control models and policies in networked systems.
  • Analyse and evaluate security in network systems via the analysis of data.

Explore this module

What you'll learn

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • Appraise the principles of Cloud Computing and their applications in common business scenarios.
  • Evaluate service provisioning in Cloud Computing data centers and optimise their operation to meet user requirements.
  • Design business models and implement the corresponding Cloud solutions for specific applications and assess the resulting benefits.

Explore this module


 

Part-time

Core modules

All modules in Year 1 are core

What you'll learn

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • Formulate, organise and implement investigations on digital media, whilst applying appropriate procedures for acquiring, imaging, preserving and analysing the seized artefacts.
  • Critically evaluate the main techniques of cryptography and cryptanalysis, and overcome or exploit them in the context of securing systems and extracting evidence from hidden data.
  • Explain the underlying architecture and the theory of operating systems used in digital media storage, and critically research other fields of digital forensics in context of new technologies and methodologies.
  • Construct a computer crime case and manage its progress through the justice system within ethical boundaries.
  • Prepare, manage and plan a court case in a group as leader or member, negotiating, collaborating and handling conflicts in evidence extraction with confidence by exploiting the capacities of group members.

Explore this module

What you'll learn

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • Explain and analyse the structures of operating systems, file systems and network organisations from the point of view of data security and digital investigations
  • Critically review the different approaches and techniques used in the design of secure computer systems
  • Critically examine and reason about the current security protocols and policies deployed in complex computer systems
  • Critically evaluate and implement ethical hacking techniques
  • Analyse the key issues underlying ethical hacking and alternative approaches

Explore this module

Core modules

You will take one core module in Year 2.

What you'll learn

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • Analyse and appraise research-based knowledge at the forefront of mobile forensic analysis
  • Creatively or divergently, apply comprehensive understanding of mobile forensic techniques and methodologies to produce a new or original solution in a forensics investigation
  • Appraise and manage the implications of ethical dilemmas in the domain on mobile device use and their forensic analysis in an organisational context
  • Understand and evaluate research and applied methodologies, and argue alternative approaches
  • Organise manage and plan work in a group as leader or member, clarifying tasks and making appropriate use of the capacities of group members. Negotiating and handling conflict with confidence
  • Understand the theory and organisation of mobile phones technology, and the architecture of sim cards and security protocols deployed

Explore this module

Optional modules

You will take one optional module in Year 2.

What you'll learn

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • To develop a critical awareness of the concepts of globalisation, risk and security in relation to cyberspace.
  • To create a holistic understanding of the nature of cybersecurity threats facing organisations and states
  • To estimate the diverse cybersecurity threats and responses, in relation to organisations and states.
  • To appraise the challenges of national cybersecurity strategies.
  • To develop an integrated interdisciplinary understanding of approaches to managing cyber-risks
  • To assess the impact of global cybersecurity governance.

Explore this module

Additional content
The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the different types of financial data, reports and business decision making process
  • Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of data warehouse design, multi-dimensional modelling, cloud-based data warehousing, OLAP, aiming to support better business decision making
  • Use your data warehouse understanding to successfully query and gain business insights about a number of different data sets
  • Apply suitable data visualisation techniques for a given business analysis task
  • Summarise and present financial data and insights

Explore this module

Additional content
The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Explain main scale-out and Big Data system architectures
  • Explain the methods and algorithms used for dealing with big data
  • Independently apply big data skills to new domains and problems

Explore this module

What you'll learn

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • Appraise the different properties attained by the specification and design of security protocols.
  • Create and critique access control models and policies in networked systems.
  • Analyse and evaluate security in network systems via the analysis of data.

Explore this module

What you'll learn

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • Appraise the principles of Cloud Computing and their applications in common business scenarios.
  • Evaluate service provisioning in Cloud Computing data centers and optimise their operation to meet user requirements.
  • Design business models and implement the corresponding Cloud solutions for specific applications and assess the resulting benefits.

Explore this module

Core modules

All modules in Year 3 are core.

What you'll learn

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • Investigate and solve a significant practical or (discipline) theoretical problem arising out of the material in their current programme of studies.
  • Plan, manage, evaluate and reflect upon a significant project over an extended period of time.
  • Critically appraise and reflect upon the range of methods, data collection and analysis, in research related to their field and in relation to the dissertation.
  • Select and apply to research, appropriate research methods and apply them to their problems, showing awareness of relevant ethical, social, professional and legal factors.
  • Evaluate and critique research material effectively in the solution of the problem.
  • Assemble a coherent presentation of the outcomes of a masters level project in written and oral form.

Explore this module


 

Changes to course content

We use the best and most current research and professional practice alongside feedback from our students to make sure course content is relevant to your future career or further studies.

Therefore, some course content may change over time to reflect changes in the discipline or industry. If a module doesn't run, we'll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative module.

Facilities

Cyber Security and Digital Forensics Laboratory

Learn how to secure and analyse data and get practical cybersecurity experience in our professionally equipped digital forensics facilities. 

Explore lab

Usability Laboratory

Test your applications with eye-tracking equipment and find out if your subject is looking where you'd expect them to look when interacting with your product.

Learn more

Careers and opportunities

Careers this Master's prepares you for

You'll graduate from this Master's with skills that are in heavy demand. The UK Government's £2.6 billion National Cyber Strategy aims to "ensure the UK continues to be a leading responsible and democratic cyber power", and shows how businesses in the private and public sectors need to fill a large cyber skills gap to meet that aim. 

You'll have studied twin disciplines within that skills gap, so you'll be qualified for roles in preventing digital crime, or investigating and prosecuting those who commit it. You'll be able to work in fields including:

  • Law enforcement
  • IT auditing
  • Information security
  • High-tech crime units
  • Commercial investigation
  • National security bodies
  • Systems administration
  • Security analysis

You could also go on to further research study at PhD level.

Career planning

During your course you'll have expert careers advice from our Careers and Employability Centre, your tutors and our Student Placements and Employability Centre. You can access support from our Careers and Employability Centre for up to 5 years after you graduate.

Female student standing at careers and employability help desk

Career support

You'll benefit from:

  • Networking events
  • Applied projects with companies such as IBM, Boeing and Hampshire County Council
  • 1-to-1 appointments  
  • CV and cover letter advice
  • Interview preparation and practice
  • Workshops to enhance your employability skills
  • Recruitment events including the Student and Graduate Opportunities Fair
  • Support starting your own business

Learn more about your career support

How you'll spend your time

We recognise that you'll probably be juggling more demands when you do your Master's degree, as you may be working or you may have family responsibilities.

We'll give you as much indication here as we can of how much time you'll need to spend in on-campus or in online lectures and seminars and how many hours you can expect to spend in self-directed study, but please note that these indications are always subject to change.

Course structure

This Master's degree will take:

  • 3 years (part time study)
  • 12 months (full-time study, September start)
  • 16 months (full time study, January start)

You can expect:

  • 10 hours of teaching time every week, made up of lectures and tutorials (5 hours for part time students). We do our best to keep all teaching within two days, leaving you the rest of the week for work experience or self-guided study
  • 15–20 hours of independent study each week, depending on the modules being studied (pro rata for part time students)

In the last 3 months of the course you'll be focusing on your research project.

Teaching

Master's study is deeper and more specialised than an undergraduate degree. This means you'll focus on something that really matters to you and your career as you work closely with academics committed to the subject.

You'll spend more time in independent study and research than you did for your undergraduate degree. If you choose campus based study, the majority of your teaching time will be in-person and face-to-face.

Teaching on this course includes:

  • practical sessions
  • courtroom and hacking simulations
  • lectures and theory sessions
  • guest speakers and alumni

    Assessment

    You'll be assessed through:

    • written assignments
    • presentations
    • group and individual lab-based assessments
    • dissertation / project

    You'll be able to test your skills and knowledge informally before you do assessments that count towards your final mark.

    You can get feedback on practice and formal assessments so you can improve in future.

    Term dates

    September start

    The Master's academic year runs from September to the following September. There are breaks at Christmas and Easter. Over the summer you'll be writing your project / dissertation.

    January start

    Courses that start in January have the same amount of teaching as September-start courses, but they normally run over a longer time period.

    January-start courses normally run between 14–18 months, beginning in January and ending in the spring / summer of the following year. There are breaks at Christmas, Easter and in the summer. In the last few months you’ll be writing your project / dissertation.

    See key dates

    Graduation Class of 2021

    Joining us as an international student

    You'll feel at home in our international community and our diverse city. You'll be joining over 5,000 international students from more than 150 countries who are studying with us.

    Learn more about international student life and how we can help you with visas, applications, arrival and settling in. 

    Information for international students

    Supporting your learning

    Master's study is more focused on independent learning than undergraduate study, but you'll get lots of support via video and phone from teaching and support staff to enhance your learning experience and help you succeed. If you choose to study on-campus, you'll also get face-to-face support. You can build your personalised network of support from the following people and services:

    Types of support

    Your personal tutor helps you make the transition to postgraduate study and gives you academic and personal support throughout your Master's.

    As well as regular scheduled meetings with your personal tutor, they're also available at set times during the week if you want to chat with them about anything that can't wait until your next meeting.

    You'll have help from a team of faculty learning support tutors. They can help you improve and develop your academic skills and support you in any area of your study.

    They can help with:

    • improving your academic writing (for example, essays, reports, dissertations)
    • understanding and using assignment feedback
    • managing your time and workload
    • revision and exam techniques

    All our labs and practical spaces are staffed by qualified laboratory support staff. They’ll support you in scheduled lab sessions and can give you one-to-one help when you do practical research projects.

    As well as support from faculty staff and your personal tutor, you can use the University's Academic Skills Unit (ASK).

    ASK provides one-to-one support in areas such as:

    • Academic writing
    • Note taking
    • Time management
    • Critical thinking
    • Presentation skills
    • Referencing
    • Working in groups
    • Revision, memory and exam techniques

    If you have a disability or need extra support, the Additional Support and Disability Centre (ASDAC) will give you help, support and advice.

    Our online Learning Well mini-course will help you plan for managing the challenges of learning and student life, so you can fulfil your potential and have a great student experience.

    You can get personal, emotional and mental health support from our Student Wellbeing Service, in person and online. This includes 1–2–1 support as well as courses and workshops that help you better manage stress, anxiety or depression.

    If you require extra support because of a disability or additional learning need our specialist team can help you.

    They'll help you to

    • discuss and agree on reasonable adjustments
    • liaise with other University services and facilities, such as the library
    • access specialist study skills and strategies tutors, and assistive technology tutors, on a 1-to-1 basis or in groups
    • liaise with external services

    Library staff are available in person or by email, phone, or online chat to help you make the most of the University’s library resources. You can also request one-to-one appointments and get support from a librarian who specialises in your subject area.

    The library is open 24 hours a day, every day, in term time.

    The Maths Cafe offers advice and assistance with mathematical skills in a friendly, informal environment. You can come to our daily drop-in sessions, develop your mathematics skills at a workshop or use our online resources.

    If English isn't your first language, you can do one of our English language courses to improve your written and spoken English language skills before starting your degree. Once you're here, you can take part in our free In-Sessional English (ISE) programme to improve your English further.

    Course costs and funding

    Tuition fees (January 2023 start)

    • Full time: £8,100
    • Part time: £2,700 per year

    (including Transition Scholarship)

    • Full-time: £8,100
    • Part-time: £2,700 per year
    • Full time: £18,300
    • Part time: £6,100 per year

    Tuition fees (September 2023 and January 2024 start)

    • Full time: £8,500
    • Part time: £2,830 per year

    (including Transition Scholarship)

    • Full-time: £8,500
    • Part-time: £2,830 per year
    • Full time: £19,200
    • Part time: £6,400 per year

    University of Portsmouth graduates may receive a 20% alumni tuition fee discount

    Fees are subject to annual increase. Read our tuition fees terms and conditions.

    You'll be able to pay your fees in instalments. Find out how to pay your tuition fees.

    Funding your studies

    Explore how to fund your studies, including available scholarships and bursaries.

    If you're a UK student, you may be eligible for a Government Postgraduate Master's Loan, which you can use to help with course fees and living costs.

    If you're a UK student who achieved a first in your undergraduate degree you may be eligible for a £3,000 University of Portsmouth scholarship.

    Loans, scholarships and bursaries

    Browse funding such as the Government Postgraduate Loan, our scholarships for new and returning students, and subject specific loans.

    Explore funding

    Funding for international students

    Learn more about sponsorships, scholarships and loans for students applying from outside of the UK.

    international business students
    Discover your options

    Fees and funding for postgraduate taught courses

    Discover how you can fund your postgraduate studies at Portsmouth – including loans, scholarships and bursaries – and read our guidance on topics like how to budget, and how to get support if you're disabled or have dependents.

    Explore funding

    Additional costs

    These course-related costs aren't included in the tuition fees so you'll need to budget for them when you plan your spending. Additional costs could include:

    • Accommodation: If you choose to study on-campus, accommodation options and costs can be found on our accommodation pages
    • Recommended reading: You can borrow key texts from the library and if you choose to purchase these texts they may cost up to £60 each.
    • General costs: such photocopying, memory sticks, printing charges, binding and specialist printing. We suggest budgeting £75 per year.
    • Final project transport or accommodation: where necessary, which related to your research activities. The amount will depend on the project you choose.

    Read more about tuition fees and living costs, including what your tuition fees cover.

    Entry requirements​

    Eligibility

    This course accepts UK, EU, and international students.

    January 2023 / September 2023 / January 2024 start

    • An upper second-class honours degree in a relevant subject, including Computer Sciences, Legal or Social Sciences, or equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications.

    Please get in touch if you're not sure if your undergraduate subject is relevant to this degree.

    Equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications will also be considered, such as previous study, employment, voluntary work and training courses, including courses and qualifications you didn't complete. Learn more about our Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).

    If you're applying as an international student with a non-UK degree, you’ll need to show you meet the UK entry requirements listed above.

    To find out if your non-UK degree or other qualification is accepted, please visit our page for your country and view the UK equivalent of your qualification. 

    • English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.0 (or equivalent) with no component score below 5.5.

    You do not need an IELTS or equivalent certification if:

    • you have a UK degree
    • you have a degree from a majority English speaking country (not taught by Distance Learning)
    • you are a national of a majority English speaking country

    Degrees taught solely in English from non-majority English speaking countries will be considered on a case by case basis. Find out more about our English language requirements.

    If you do not meet the English language requirements yet, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.

    How to apply

    Unlike undergraduate applications, which go through UCAS, applications for this Master's course are made directly to us.

    There's no deadline for applications to this course. We accept applications right up until the start dates in September and January, as long as there are places available. If you wait until your start month to apply, you may find that the course is full. 

    If you're applying as an international student, remember that you'll need to leave plenty of time to get your visa organised.

    You can find more advice about applying in our Master's application checklist. International students and current students and recent graduates of the University of Portsmouth also have some different application options, which are detailed below.

    Extra information for international students

    If you're an international student, you can apply directly to us using the same application form as UK students.

    You could also get an agent to help with your application. Check your country page for details of agents in your region. To find out what to include in your application, head to the how to apply page of our international students section.

    If you don’t meet the English language requirements for this course yet, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.

    Ready to apply?

    Standard applications

    Start this course in January 2023

    Apply now (Full-time)

    Apply now (Part-time)

    Start this course in September 2023

    Apply now (Full-time)

    Apply now (Part-time)

    Start this course in January 2024

    Apply now (Full-time)

    Apply now (Part-time)

    I'm a current Portsmouth student, or a recent Portsmouth graduate

    If you're currently in your final year of study at Portsmouth, or you graduated since July 2021, you're eligible to make a fast track application. You'll have:

    • a shorter application form to complete
    • access to the 20% Alumni fee discount
    • a guaranteed conditional offer, for most Master's courses 

    Learn more about fast track

    After you apply

    Once we receive your application, we may ask you for further information. We will then either make you an offer or suggest alternatives if your application is unsuccessful.

    You'll usually get a decision within 10 working days, so you shouldn't have to wait too long. Some courses have an interview stage – we'll let you know if you need to prepare for one.

    Learn more about how we assess your application.

    Admissions terms and conditions

    When you accept an offer to study at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to abide by our Student Contract (which includes the University's relevant policies, rules and regulations). You should read and consider these before you apply.