Cyber Defence and Information Assurance MSc/PgCert/PgDip

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  • Course description
    Cyber Defence and Information Assurance MSc/PgCert/PgDip:

    Course Description:

    The Cyber Defence and Information Assurance programme is designed to develop professionals who can effectively manage and exploit the threats and opportunities of cyberspace at the organisational level. The course specifically focuses on responses to serious present and emerging threats in the information domain. This necessitates sound technical understanding overlaid with an appreciation of the drivers and constraints within the business, and the knowledge to ensure the gap between the two can be bridged by the use of management tools, techniques and strategies.

    Start Months:





    Defence and Security
    Entry Requirements:

    A first or second class UK Honours degree (or equivalent) ideally in a related subject. Other recognised professional qualifications or several years relevant industrial experience may be accepted as equivalent; subject to approval by the Course Director. For further and specific information please visit the course page. 

    English Language:

    If you are an international student you will need to provide evidence that you have achieved a satisfactory test result in an English qualification. The minimum standard expected from a number of accepted courses are as follows:

        IELTS - 6.5
        TOEFL - 92
        Pearson PTE Academic - 65
        Cambridge English Scale - 180
        Cambridge English: Advanced - C
        Cambridge English: Proficiency - C

    In addition to these minimum scores you are also expected to achieve a balanced score across all elements of the test. We reserve the right to reject any test score if any one element of the test score is too low. We can only accept tests taken within two years of your registration date (with the exception of Cambridge English tests which have no expiry date). Students requiring a Tier 4 (General) visa must ensure they can meet the English language requirements set out by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and we recommend booking a IELTS for UKVI test.


    Part-time MSc - up to three years, Part-time PgCert - two years, Part-time PgDip - two years

    (For MOD status students the duration may vary, subject to annual review.): Part-time MSc - up to three years, Part-time PgCert - two years, Part-time PgDip - two years

    Course format:
    • Taught
    • MSc/PgCert/PgDip

    Designed to develop professionals who can effectively manage and exploit the threats and opportunities of cyberspace at the organisational level. The course specifically focuses on responses to serious present and emerging threats in the information domain.

    Who is it for?:

    Students will be government, corporate and critical information infrastructure staff who are one or more of the following:
    • Managers who need to understand information risk and respond to cyber threats
    • Technicians who wish to understand the operational and business context
    • Procurement staff commissioning critical or sensitive projects
    • Policy and planning staff interested in computer network and security operations
    • Personnel interested in social media and associated concepts such as cyber mobilisation
    • Those charged with accreditation and assessment of security measures.
    Why this course?:

    The course will specifically focus on responses to serious, present and emerging threats in the information domain. The course enables the student to gain an organisational view of cyber, the domain, the drivers and constraints. Whilst a technical understanding is of value, the course is designed to ensure that the bigger, contextual, aspects of cyber is understood thereby enabling decision making in relation to cyber to be undertaken within an organisation.

    The course also evaluates the impact of cyber on control systems, leadership and decision making in the command and control environment.

    Informed by Industry:

    The course has an External Advisory Panel, chaired by Sir Edmund Burton, with expert representation from government and industry, including Fujitsu, mobile phone giant EE, GSK and the MOD.

    The MSc course holds provisional accreditation from the UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).

    Your teaching team:
    • Dr Ruth Massie
    • Lorraine Dodd
    • Jeremy Hilton
    • Dr Oliver Buckley
    • Dr Duncan Hodges
    • Robert Black
    • Antoinette Caird-Daley
    • Rebecca McKeown
    The course utilises a wide range of external speakers, many of whom are leaders in their field. Lecturing staff bring a wealth of experience from both the public and private sectors and understand the issues of translating the theory of information assurance into practice across a broad spectrum of organisational contexts.


    It is intended that accreditation against emerging government and professional body standards will be sought, in consultation with, for example, the UK Government’s Communications-Electronics Security Group (CESG), Institute for Information Security Professionals and the British Computer Society.

    This course is supported by the UK Government’s Cabinet Office and Office of Cyber Security and Information Security.

    Course details:

    The course is taught through a flexible blend of compulsory residential courses, online Virtual Learning Environment activities and interaction and project-based learning.

    It has three components: a taught component comprising six, 10 credit modules (PGCert/PGDip/MSc); a 20 credit module and a 40 credit work based project (PGDip/MSc); and an 80 credit research project assessed by dissertation (MSc).

    Individual project:

    Students taking the MSc/PGDip must complete a 40 credit project in year 2, focused on a work-based problem-solving context. This allows the student to develop and demonstrate the application of knowledge and skills acquired in the taught modules in the context of a continually changing cyber environment and practical problem context. Where a work-based project is problematic for an individual student, the supervisor will work with the student to identify an alternative problem-solving context.


    Students taking the MSc must develop and demonstrate their technical expertise, independent learning abilities and critical appraisal skills by producing a clear and coherent research-based dissertation.


    PGCert: each module is assessed via course work and a reflective portfolio. PgDip: in addition to assessment of the PGCert, PgDip students will be assessed via a large project and presentation. MSc: in addition to assessment of the PgDip, MSc students will be assessed via a dissertation

    Core modules:
    • Cyber Defence - Governance and Management
    • Understanding Risk
    • Cyber Attack - Threats and Opportunities
    • Social Technologies
    • Critical Networks/Process Control
    • The Human Dimension
    • Developing Cyber Thinking and Practice
    • Work-based Project
    • Dissertation
    Fees and funding:

    Home EU Student Fees:

    MSc Part-time £12,500 *
    PgDip Part-time £9,800 *
    PgCert Part-time £4,900 *

    Oversees Fees:

    MSc Part-time £12,500 *
    PgDip Part-time £9,800 *
    PgCert Part-time £4,900 * 

    * Students will be offered the option of paying the full fee up front, or in a maximum of two payments per year; first instalment on receipt of invoice and the second instalment six months later. 

    Fee notes:
    • The fees outlined apply to all students whose initial date of registration falls on or between 1 August 2017 and 31 July 2018.
    • All students pay the tuition fee set by the University for the full duration of their registration period agreed at their initial registration.
    • Additional fees for extensions to the agreed registration period may be charged and can be found below.
    • Fee eligibility at the Home/EU rate is determined with reference to UK Government regulations. As a guiding principle, EU nationals (including UK) who are ordinarily resident in the EU pay Home/EU tuition fees, all other students (including those from the Channel Islands and Isle of Man) pay Overseas fees. 
    Security clearance for Shrivenham:

    Some Cranfield University courses are delivered at the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom, Shrivenham which is a Ministry of Defence (MOD) site. All applicants to courses that are wholly or partially delivered at Shrivenham must complete the BPSS (HMG Baseline Personnel Security Standard V4 April 2014) prior to registration on the course or must already hold a security clearance to this level or higher.

    Your application and BPSS clearance application will be shared during the application process with the MOD who have ultimate discretion over whether to admit applicants to the Shrivenham site. This information will be returned by the MOD to Cranfield University after checks are completed and no copies will be retained by the MOD.

    BPSS checks may involve confirmation of the following:

    Identity (e.g. Photo ID)
    Nationality and Immigration Status
    Employment/Academic History (covering the past 3 years)
    Criminal record (unspent convictions only)
    Additionally, applicants are required to give a reasonable account of any significant periods (6 months or more in the past 3 years) of time spent abroad.

    This may be revised from time to time dependent on national security requirements. For more details, please consult the BPSS Guidance.

    It will take additional time to process your BPSS clearance application once you have completed your course application.

    Inability to access the Shrivenham site as a result of failure to meet security clearance requirements will result in a withdrawal of offer, or, if already registered, a termination of registration.

    Your career:

    This qualification will take you on to become one of the next generation of managers who can understand and effectively manage and exploit the threats and opportunities of cyberspace at the organisational level.


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