Electronics and Computer Science (ECS), University of Southampton

Electronics and Computer Science (ECS)

MSc Cyber Security

Cyber security is a topic of critical importance to commercial and academic organisations, as well as to governments and their citizens. Our Cyber Security programme, primarily aimed as a broadening qualification for computer science graduates, offers a multi-disciplinary perspective to the subject, giving students an excellent basis for a future career in the cyber security field.


There is currently a worldwide shortage of skilled practitioners in cyber security. In the UK, the National Audit Office recently named "addressing the UK's current and future ICT and cyber security skills gap" as a "key challenge", whilst at a time when cybercrime “as-a-service” is on a steep rise, the Department for Business, Innovation & Skill calls for companies to make of cyber security a Board level responsibility. Our MSc is specifically designed to give students a well-rounded, multi-disciplinary view of the subject area, embracing not only the technical subjects, but also aspects of criminology, risk management, law and social sciences.  We believe a broad grounding in cyber security will give our students a key advantage in the marketplace.

To Apply

You can apply for the programme through the University of Southampton's online postgraduate application system. For more background and detailed information, see How to Apply.


This is 1 of only 12 cyber security MSc programmes in the UK to be awarded Provisional Certification against the GCHQ Certified Master's degree in General Cyber Security standard, subject to a specific set of modules: see the programme spec for details

We are 1 of only 13 universities recognised as an Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research by the UK Government.

Programme Structure

Twelve months, full-time.

The programme is primarily a broadening qualification for computer science graduates, but is also one that may appeal to suitable graduates from other disciplines. The programme features two semesters of taught modules, with a variety of optional modules available to allow students to selectively gain knowledge in some specific subject areas, followed by the MSc dissertation/project, which where possible is conducted in conjunction with an industrial partner.

Key Facts

  • We are in the top 10% in the UK for the volume and quality of our Computer Science research (REF 2014)
  • 100% of our Computer Science research impact is world-leading or internationally excellent (REF 2014)
  • We are ranked in the UK top ten for Computer Sciences by the 2016 Guardian and Times / Sunday Times Good University Guides
  • Southampton is ranked in the top 51-100 universities for Computer Science in the 2015 QS World Rankings
  • Southampton University has pioneered many of the most important advances in computer science and web technology of the past 10 years

Entry requirements

Honours Degree:

Our normal entry requirement is an upper second-class honours degree or higher (or equivalent) in computer science or a closely related discipline (certain modules assume a level of programming and mathematics knowledge)

English Language Requirements:

If English is not your first language, you will be required to pass an approved English test. We normally ask for IELTS 6.5 overall with at least 6.0 in each competency. For information on other accepted English language tests, please visit www.southampton.ac.uk/admissions_language.

International Qualifications:

We welcome applications from international students. For information on applying, visit the International Office website. Please note we are part of the Faculty of Physical Sciences and Engineering (FPSE).

Selection Process:

All individuals are selected and treated on their relative merits and abilities in line with the University's Equal Opportunities Policy. Disabled applicants will be treated according to the same procedures as any other applicant with the added involvement of the Disability Office to assess their needs. The programme may require adaptation for students with disabilities (eg hearing impairment, visual impairment, mobility difficulties, dyslexia), particularly the practical laboratory sessions, and we will attempt to accommodate students wherever possible.



To Apply

You can apply for the programme through the University of Southampton's online postgraduate application system. For more background and detailed information, see How to Apply.

Related programmes

Career opportunities

This programme provides an excellent platform for either immediate employment in the cyber security field or further research in industry or academia. Our graduates should not only understand technical aspects of cyber security, but also the broader context in which these sit.

Our students should be able to seek careers in:

  • Established companies designing and marketing specific off-the-shelf security products (anti-viruses, anti-spam, software analysers, firewalls, etc.);
  • Emerging cyber security professions embedded in companies and business of any sort. These include the expert figures required as companies are urged to take responsibility for the analysis of their cyber-threats and the design of their cyber-defences;
  • A growing range of cyber security consultancy companies who study and analyse trends in cyber security and who provide advice to a wide range of clients;
  • Professions for which cyber security plays a key role, and for which understanding the broader context is becoming increasingly important, e.g. the military, intelligence agencies, and crime prevention and investigation
  • Government departments, e.g. in the UK the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BiS), who provide analysis and strategy advice for the UK and its businesses.

    Academic possibilities include further study towards a Ph.D. qualification, or research assistant positions undertaking cyber security related research.

Pre-course reading lists

Pre-course reading list

We expect students to have a background in Computer Science or a related discipline, and thus you should have experience with topics including computer networks and computer programming.

The recommended texts for our cyber security modules include:

  • “Security Engineering: A Guide to Building Dependable Distributed Systems”, Ross J Anderson (2008).
  • “Cyber War: The Next Threat to National Security and What to Do about it”, R.A. Clarke, ECCO Press (2012).
  • “Cyber Warfare: Techniques, Tactics and Tools for Security Practitioners”, J. Andress, Syngress (2011)
  • “Security in Computing”, Fourth Edition, C. Pfleeger and S. Pfleeger, Prentice Hall (2006)
  • “Secrets and Lies, Digital Security in a Networked World”, B. Schneier, Wiley (2000).
  • “Handbook of Internet Crime” Jewkes, Y. and Yar, M. (eds), Devon: Willan (2010)
  • “Cryptography Engineering: Design Principles and Practical Applications”, N. Ferguson, B. Schneier and T. Kohno, John Wiley (2010)
  • Private Security. Leicester, Perpetuity Press, B. George and M. Button. (2000)
  • "Project Risk Management: processes, techniques and insights", C. Chapman and S. Ward, Second edition, John Wiley & Sons (2003).
  • “Risk Management: organisation and context”, S. Ward, Witherby & Co Ltd. (2004)

Students may also wish to research commercial white papers, for example:

  • “Cybercrime Exposed: cybercrime-as-a-service”, Rai Samani and François Piaget, McAfee White Paper, 2013

There is a variety of cyber security blogs that should be of interest to students, and highlight topical subjects, including:

We also recommend that students review a range of annual cyber security reports, including: