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Our MSc programmes

Our MSc programmes

The Information Security Group at Royal Holloway launched its flagship MSc Information Security masters degree programme in 1992, which was the first such programme in the world. Since then over 4,000 students from more than 100 countries have graduated from this programme. Today, the ISG currently supports the following MSc programmes:

There are many reasons why Royal Holloway is the right place to study for an MSc in Information Security (Masters in Cyber Security). Here we highlight some of them.

  • Pioneering. Our MSc was the first of its kind in the world, introduced in 1992. The programme continually builds on the fundamental principles that underpin information security while keeping up to date with the latest developments.
  • Strength in depth. The strength and breadth of the ISG's expertise and its network of security professionals underpins the programme. There are few MSc programmes in the world backed by such a large group of interdisciplinary experts.
  • Industrially relevant. The MSc syllabus is informed, designed and taught with the assistance of the ISG's extensive industrial contacts. The principal objective of the MSc is to prepare graduates for successful careers in the information security profession.
  • An international community. Over 4000 of our alumni from over 100 countries now work in the information security sector. By studying our MSc programme you will join a proud global network of information security professionals, many of whom are in very senior positions.
  • Flexible study modes. The MSc is available in several study modes (full time, day release, block mode, distance learning), most of which are designed to support students in full-time employment.
  • Valued extra-curricular activities. On campus we run several specialist short courses, industrial seminars, careers seminars, and are regularly visited by organisations recruiting our students.
  • Nationally and internationally recognised. Our MSc in Information Security has been certified by the NCSC (the National Cyber Security Centre, a part of GCHQ). The unique contribution made by the ISG was recognised by a prestigious Queen's Anniversary Prize in 1998, and more recently through the formation of a government-funded Centre for Doctoral Training in Cyber Security. In 2021 the ISG received an ACE-CSE gold award recognising its excellence in cyber security education and good practice from the NCSC.

The MSc has a very rich structure that provides a unique and diversified learning opportunity.

  • The Core Element. This provides a solid foundation for the Options and Project elements. The Core contains four taught modules: Security Management, Cryptography, Security Technologies, and Research Methods, where the methods module provides students with a sound basis for engaging in the major project.
  • The Options Element. Four specialist modules are chosen from a diverse list which includes: Secure Business Architectures, Computer and Network Security, Cyber Crime, Legal and Regulatory Aspects of Security, Digital Forensics, Security Testing, Social Foundations of Security and Privacy, Malicious Software and Critical Infrastructure Security. Students are encouraged to attend as many modules as they like at no extra cost.
  • The Project Element. This major piece of individual work can be of an academic nature or may document the ability to deal with a practical aspect of information security.
  • Entry to the course. Students can start the degree programme either in September or in January of every academic year.

The delivery modes enable very flexible ways of studying the MSc.

  • Full-time on campus. For September starters, students attend the majority of their lectures, seminars and tutorials during the Autumn and Spring terms (taking an option in the Summer term is possible). Students spend the summer focussing on their project. For January starters, students attend the majority of their lectures, seminars and tutorials during the Spring and Summer terms (taking an option in the Autumn term is possible). Students spend the autumn focussing on their project. 
  • Day-release on campus. A 'typical' part-time student will attend on a day-release basis over two years. Over this periods students attend exactly the same lectures and tutorials as full-time students.
  • Block mode on campus. This mode is ideal for students in full-time employment who find it easier to take individual weeks away from work instead of day release. Each module is taught in a one-week block, so students only have to be on campus for the specific weeks when the module is run. Irrespective of the part-time study mode, students can take up to five years to complete the MSc.
  • Distance Learning. The new uniquely designed MSc Cyber Security programme replaces a highly successful programme that has been offered for over 20 years. The new programme is run jointly with the University of London and Coursera. Students take a broad spectrum of ten taught modules covering a wide range of key cyber security topics, together with a major individual project. Staff supporting the programme are all members of the ISG or approved information security professionals, including some distinguished past graduates of the MSc itself. The degree is awarded directly by the University of London, of which Royal Holloway forms part. Support is provided through online forums via a web-based virtual learning environment. Students can expect to join an integrated network of information security professionals studying the MSc concurrently from many countries worldwide, which presents exciting opportunities to exchange experiences and perspectives. Exams are online, so you are not required to attend at Royal Holloway campus at any stage of the distance learning programme. You can complete  the course from the comfort of your home.

Students are normally expected to have at least a Second Class honours degree. We accept students from diverse backgrounds, including, but not restricted to, computer science, electronics, information systems and mathematics. Mature students without a degree but having relevant work experience and/or industry certifications are particularly encouraged to apply. A high level of competence in English will be required for students for whom English is not their first language: typically a minimum IELTS of 6.5, or a TOEFL score of 600. All "non-standard" applications are viewed sympathetically, each case being considered on its merits.

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