BSc single honours Computer Forensics and Security 2020/21

Year of entry


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We’re building a new £60m Science, Engineering, Technology and Health facility on our main campus in Canterbury, equipped with the latest technology and bespoke learning spaces for our students. We’re planning to open Building 2 in September 2020, with building work now well underway.

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The UK Government has identified cybersecurity as a “Tier One risk to UK interests” in their National Security Strategy. Hence, there is a shortage of skills to protect infrastructure, resources, people and computer systems from human error, and the exploitation of vulnerabilities by organised criminals, nation states or the lone hacker.

Such skills include utilising an ethical hacking approach to highlight security vulnerabilities so that they can be fixed or mitigated. Computer Forensics involves recovering intelligence and evidence from digital devices for the purposes of remediation, litigation and/or prosecution.

Given the demand for skilled graduates in the related fields of digital forensics and cybersecurity, the aim of this degree is to equip you with the theoretical knowledge and practical skills needed to enter these exciting areas of computing.

The course will:

  • Explore how cyber security protects organisational ecosystems (including computer systems) from malicious attacks, human error, and the exploitation of vulnerabilities.
  • Explore how ethical hacking approaches can be used to highlight security vulnerabilities so that they can be fixed or mitigated.
  • Develop your skills to use computer forensic techniques to recover intelligence and evidence from digital devices for the purposes of both civil litigation and criminal prosecution.

There has never been a better time for you to enter the computer forensics and cyber security profession. A recent report issued by Parliament on Cyber Security Skills and the UK’s Critical National Infrastructure identified a UK crisis resulting from a high demand and low supply of talent. Forbes predict a global shortage of two million cyber security professionals by 2019. No surprise then that a cyber security role such as a cyber intelligence officer can command a starting salary of £38k (nationalcareers.service.gov.uk).

This course has been engineered to nurture the skills you need to tackle challenging computing forensics and security issues and study these alongside broader computing topics, using a variety of different tools and techniques, working with a range of programming languages and operating systems.

Cyber space is the artificial environment humans have inhabited and like natural environments it cannot be controlled, but it can be managed. You will study how cyber security protects organisational ecosystems (including computer systems) from malicious attacks, human error, and the exploitation of vulnerabilities. You will explore how ethical hacking approaches can be used to highlight security vulnerabilities so that they can be fixed or mitigated. Cyber security incidents can have a number of outcomes, including civil litigation or criminal prosecution. You will develop skills to use computer forensic techniques to recover intelligence and evidence from digital devices for the purposes of both civil litigation and criminal prosecution. 

"My time at Canterbury Christ Church University was one that has had an overwhelmingly positive impact on both my personal and professional life. The skills given to me by the course has meant that at interviews with important and influential agencies, I have had the necessary knowledge and skills to impress and hold long discussions with interviewers. The lecturers had a stunning ability to impart insight into the subject."

Joshua Bartholemew , BSc (Hons) Forensic Computing, graduated 2015

You can study French, German, Italian, Mandarin Chinese and Spanish as part of, or alongside, your course.

more info

You will study specialist computing forensics and security topics, such as tracing online evidence, structure of popular file systems, recovery of digital artefacts and cybersecurity threats alongside broader computing topics. Each year builds on previous knowledge and understanding to reach an advanced standing in the area. You are encouraged to develop as an independent thinker and solution finder, with a contribution to make to the profession.

We work in the Microsoft Windows and Linux operating systems along with programming languages such as C#, Bash and Python. A mixture of forensic and security tools such as Autopsy Forensic Browser, EnCase, X-Ways, FTK, XRY, Cellebrite, Metasploit, nmap and Wireshark will be used.

The opportunity to practice and develop learned skills comes in the final year where you will undertake a substantive piece of research in an Individual Study that will allow you to demonstrate your capabilities across the whole range of activities that you have been taught in the previous years as well as research new elements of your own choosing. This Individual Study may include development of a small software artefact. You will also study some advanced areas in the field.

Work experience

You may decide to take a placement option, allowing you to put your classroom knowledge into the practice of Computer Forensics/Security in order to consolidate your skills and to enhance your employability prospects. There is compelling research by Jones, Green and Higson (2015) that shows that students who undertake placements also tend to perform more strongly academically on return from their placement in their final year of study.

We have also offered a number of paid summer student internships open to students to apply for. A previous opportunity involved two students who undertook a development internship with us to look at the production of a prototype healthcare system. This was used to demonstrate the capability of such a system to surgical teams in Kent.

On this degree you can expect to go on a small number of optional trips such as the National Computing Museum at Bletchley Park. We also have a number of guest lecturers each year.

Core modules

Year 1

Semester 1

Introduction to C# (20 Credits)

This module will introduce you to the C# programming language and the Visual Studio Integrated Development Environment (IDE). This initial module in computer programming assumes no prior knowledge of programming. This module provides support for the Design and Implement elements of the CDIO module.

Fundamentals of Computer Systems (20 Credits)

This module will introduce you to the base concepts of the binary computer through interaction with small devices such as the Raspberry Pi and programming these to work with external hardware devices. You will examine its components, its operation and basic elements of data storage.

Introduction to Forensic Investigation (20 Credits)

This module aims to provide you with the key concepts and theories underpinning forensic investigation in preparation for later modules. The module initially critically examines Locard’s theory on transfer and Kirk’s assertions regarding uniqueness and, hence, individualisation. It then explores the application of these concepts to the chief forms of evidence sought by forensic investigators, such as fingerprints, DNA, marks and digital evidence. Given that the employment of evidence can lead to a number of conclusions which may support those engaged – ultimately – in court proceedings, you will also study the nature of science, the analysis of arguments and inductive and deductive reasoning. These themes are further developed during the remainder of the programme.

Semester 2

Computer Forensics and Cybersecurity (20 Credits)

In this module you will develop your knowledge and understanding of key principles and concepts underpinning computer forensics and cybersecurity. You will study both the theoretical and practical skills underpinning computer forensic and cybersecurity activities, and develop problem-solving skills based on first principles to enable you to commence your career as an effective forensic practitioner. You will also gain an understanding of the frameworks that govern how practitioners engage with a crime scene, in particular the initial assessment of the scene through to the allocation of physical, financial and human resources to ensure that the scene can be harvested for all available computer (including microprocessor) evidence and intelligence. These principles apply equally to both criminal investigations and corporate investigations, such as network breaches/hacking, that may end up in a court. Hence, the module also aims to prepare you to operate within the civil litigation arena with an awareness of legislation and best practice across multiple jurisdictions.

Forensic Practice and Law (20 credits)

This module develops the concepts studied in Introduction to Forensic Investigation by more deeply examining the multi-agency approach to criminal investigations and the unbroken chain followed by evidence from crime scene to court. In this respect the roles of key personnel, and how they understand the context of evidence and, therefore, add value to it to ensure its suitability for presentation to the courts will be studied. The key concept of cooperation through multi-agency approaches to investigation will be considered as a central theme

Ethics, Professionalism and Employability in Computing (20 Credits)

This module provides you with a good understanding of ethical, professional and employability issues that you will encounter when embarking on a career in Computing. The module will focus on the kind of roles available to computer professionals and discuss the choices required, both in general and with regard to the degree modules that might best guide you into a particular career. You will have the opportunity to research and explore the knowledge required for your chosen career and be encouraged to discuss the ethical and professional issues relating to these areas.

Year 2

Semester 1

Research Methods (20 Credits)

On this module you will gain an understanding of the methodologies which are essential to conduct research in the area of computing. This will form an important theoretical underpinnings for the ‘Individual Study’ module in Level 6, which is itself research based. You will get to understand the elements of research process including formulating questions, understanding the theory and ethics, building evidences, assessing validity and presenting results. You will also learn analysis using a range of qualitative and quantitative data and encourage students to critically evaluate methods, strategies and data those are used in research.

Data Recovery and Analysis (20 Credits)

The module provides you with a deeper understanding of computer architecture, operating systems and networking from a data storage perspective, and how this information relates to the recovery and analysis of such data. In addition, you will explore the underlying techniques used by data recovery tools to enable them to test and evaluate such tools in line with the requirements with industry practice linked to quality standards, such as the Forensic Regulator’s Codes of Practice and Conduct (Forensic Science Regulator, 2017). The module will equip you with the necessary skills to identify, examine and present digital evidence obtained from a computer system, using commercial, open source and free tools to carry out a digital investigation.

Mobile Database Investigation (20 Credits)

Many handheld devices store digital data in databases located within the device. In this module, you will develop your knowledge and understanding of the key principles and concepts needed to perform mobile device databases analysis and investigation. You will explore the fundamental issues involved in database application system implementation using an industry-standard database management system along with an overview of the underling theory. You will develop skills to exploit your knowledge of metadata and file systems to analyse and recover database data from popular Database Management Systems (DBMS), such as SQLite.

Semester 2

Digital Forensics and Ethical Hacking (20 Credits)

This module provides you with the opportunity to develop knowledge and skills in digital forensics and in ethical hacking. From a digital forensics perspective, it provides you with the knowledge to professionally, systematically and impartially approach the identification, preservation, recovery and analysis of all relevant evidence from digital devices using appropriate tools and techniques. From a computer security perspective, you will have the opportunity to develop theory and practice in ethical hacking through the examination of the principles, theories and technical skills required in ethical hacking and the design of countermeasures.

Networking and Operating Systems (20 Credits)

The aim of this module is to first introduce you to basic principles of operating systems and undertake practical exercises on basic administrative tasks. You will also be introduced to the fundamental aspects of Computer Networks. Key aspects such as the design, construction and operation of Local and Wide Area Networks, and the layered protocol architecture are covered. The module aims to reinforce the taught material using physical equipment and software tools in a laboratory environment.

Computer Security (20 Credits)

This module introduces you to the concepts, practices and issues of ensuring computer systems are kept secure. You will gain a basic understanding of the security threats and mechanisms and be able to assess their impact, as well as combat and mitigate against them. You will also be taught how to use applications and tools for detection, prevention and auditing of security threats including malware, human factors and physical security.

Optional Year in Industry

The year in industry allows you to develop your knowledge and skills in a business or industrial setting. This allows you to build up the practical skills desired by employers and to demonstrate your capabilities on your CV. 

Year 3

Semester 1

Individual Study - Part A (20 Credits)

The Individual Study is your opportunity to demonstrate your capabilities and what you have learned over your time at University and is worth a third of your final year credits. You will perform a research task that will usually involve literature and practical work. You will write a dissertation to describe your work and create a poster to present the work to a broad range of people. 

Advanced Networking (20 Credits)

Building on the level 5 module Networking and Operating Systems, this module aims to prepare you to meet the challenges in a constantly advancing industry and equip you with advanced knowledge and understanding of recent advancements in communications and networking technologies. The module further aims to develop your ability to analyse and evaluate network related problems and draw on the theoretical and practical knowledge to tackle operational, management and regulatory issues. 

Cybersecurity (20 Credits)

In this module you will learn to how to perform a risk assessment of a variety of assets linked to an organisation, such as information, computers, networks, delivery and supply chains, people and buildings. You will then develop skills to protect information systems (hardware, software and associated infrastructure), the data on them, and the services they provide, from unauthorised access, harm or misuse.

Semester 2

Individual Study - Part B (20 Credits)

You will continue your work on your Individual Study that you started in the first Semester.

Current Issues in Computing (20 credits)

This module examines a range of current issues within the field of computing and places them with a broader academic context providing a multi-disciplinary perspective to an otherwise specialised field of study. No prior knowledge of disciplines outside the field of computing is required, but a good understanding of computer related subjects is assumed.

Likely optional modules

Year 3

Expert and Professional Witnesses (20 Credits)

This module will familiarise you with the legal system for England and Wales in order to develop your knowledge of the law, structure and processes related to operating as an expert witness. You will then go on to explore the roles, responsibilities and scope of lay witnesses, professional witnesses and expert witnesses in forensic investigations and the methods and models that the expert uses to interpret the value of forensic evidence. Towards the end of the module you will have an opportunity to participate in a moot court exercise to build your confidence and practical experience. To support this activity, you will given extensive training in communication and transaction theories. Case examples are used to demonstrate key theories where appropriate.

Advanced Operating Systems (20 Credits)

This module provides you with a theoretical overview of the key concepts underpinning the design of modern operating systems. You will develop skills to critically analyse and apply this theory to real-world uses of operating systems. 

As well as a breadth of technical skills, you will develop hugely important professional skills to enable you to engage successfully with employers and their business. The option to take a year in industry as part of your degree provides an immersive experience for you to enrich your technical and professional skills further.

Areas of work for the computer forensic/cyber security professional include, but are not limited to digital forensic investigation in law enforcement, the intelligence services (MI5), consultancy, financial services or healthcare. Staff at Canterbury Christ Church have real-life experience in all of these areas and are well placed to advise what practitioner life is really like at the operational end of cyber security work.

You will also have a strong grounding for further study on specialist Masters or Research (MPhil/PhD) programmes. This degree will stand you in good stead to work towards professional qualifications with a number of commercial providers and also those of the British Computer Society.

Fees

Tuition Fees for 2020/21 have not yet been finalised. Course webpages will be updated with Tuition Fee information once these have been agreed.

Additional course costs

Although we aim to minimise any additional costs to students over and above the course tuition fee, there will be some additional costs which students are expected to meet.

Costs applicable to all students

CategoryDescription
Text books Own purchase text books
Travel to other sites Where travel to other sites is required, this will be payable by the student
Library Fees and Fines Where students fail to return loaned items within the required time they will be responsible for the cost of any Library Fees and Fines applicable
Printing & Photocopying The cost of printing and photocopying undertaken by students to support their individual learning are payable by the student
Graduation ceremonies It is free for the student to attend the ceremony itself. Guest tickets and robe hire / photography are additional costs payable by the student

Course specific costs

CategoryDescription
Field Trips (including trips abroad and trips to museums, theatres, workshops etc)

We run several part-funded optional trips per year. Students are expected to pay a share of the overall cost: Typically in the order of £10-£20 per trip for UK regional trips. These are payable two weeks or more in advance of the trip. Fee will cover part of the travel and entry fee (if any).

Food and drink are not included.

We are hoping to run optional trips further afield in the UK or abroad. A larger student cost may be required for these. This will be indicated to students in advance. Wherever possible we will look to maximise the subsidy offered for the trip.

Travel and Accommodation costs for Placements

Students who take the Placement module in Year 3 will be expected to self-fund all travel, accommodation if required, and subsistence costs.

Text books

Some modules require a purchase of a text book. Text books in computing can cost between £10 and £70 per book. Other modules will use either free books or students will use a number of different books from the library. Students select which books to purchase. Books are highlighted in the first lecture few lectures of a module.

Clothing / Kit

Not required, unless required for placement, where the student will be responsible for these costs, unless essential Health and Safety requirements, where the placement partner organisation will bear the costs.

Social Events

We do not charge for programme social events at the start and end of each year. Other social events may make a small charge of £15 or less to cover costs.

General principle policy

The University’s general principles policy for additional course fees are set out here

CategoryIncluded in the tuition feeAdditional cost to student
Field trips (including trips abroad and trips to museums, theatres, workshops etc) No, if the trip contributes to the course as an optional module. Yes if the trip is optional.
Travel and accommodation costs for placements  No

Travel and accommodation costs for professional placements within the Education and Health & Wellbeing Faculties.

Travel and accommodation costs for other work placements. 
Text books No Own purchase text books.
DBS / Health checks No Yes
Professional Body registration No Yes
Travel to other sites (e.g. travel to swimming pool for lessons) No Yes
Clothing / Kit Yes, where the clothing / kit is essential for Health & Safety reasons. Yes, where the clothing is kept by the student and not essential for health and safety reasons.
Learning materials Essential learning materials (excluding text books) in connection with the course. Additional materials beyond the standard provision essential for the course or where the costs are determined by the student’s area of interest and the outputs are retained by the student.
Library fees and fines No Yes
Printing and photocopying No Yes
Social events No, unless the event forms an essential part of the course. Yes, unless the event forms an essential part of the course.
Graduation ceremonies It is free for the student to attend the ceremony itself. Guest tickets and robe hire/ photography are additional costs payable by the student.

Teaching

This degree uses the pioneering CDIO (Conceive, Design, Implement, Operate) education model – developed by the world-renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in collaboration with business. This will help your natural creativity and thirst for problem-solving flourish as you learn and some of your teaching will be done via real-world inspired projects. You will be taught through a combination of lectures, seminars and practical labs. You will typically have around 12 contact hours per week and are expected to also spend about 4 hours each week co-ordinating with team members on group activities. Labs will often emphasise working in small groups to enable you to discuss and develop your understanding of topics covered in lectures and place theory into practice. 

You will also have regular scheduled meetings, in addition to the above contact hours, with an assigned academic personal tutor, which is your first point of contact for assistance to your undergraduates needs.

Your actual contact hours depend on the option modules you select.

Independent learning

When not attending timetabled sessions it is expected you will continue learning through self-study. Typically, this involves completing computer-based exercises, preparing for workshops and seminars, undertaking research in the library, working on projects, undertaking coursework assignments or preparing for class-tests and examinations and reading journal articles and books. Your module leader will direct you towards specific readings and/or activities to complete before class.

For your final year individual study (dissertation), you will undertake independent research and will be assigned a supervisor; who will guide you through your first substantial and independent work through regular scheduled meetings.

Overall workload

Your overall workload typically consists of 12 contact hours and an additional 25 hours of independent learning. In addition, there may be field trips.

For each 20-credit module, your study time will about 10 hours a week plus work on assessments or preparation for examinations. Assessments would normally be expected to take approximately 50 hours for an assignment worth 50% of a 20 credit module. A similar amount of preparation and revision time would be expected for an examination worth 50% of a 20 credit module.

Academic input

The team consists of highly qualified academics. They have a range of expertise and experience.

All our team members hold Doctoral or professional qualifications (e.g. Member of the British Computer Society or Eur. Ing.). Find out more about the current teaching team. You should note members of the teaching team might change.

Postgraduate students assist in some teaching and assessing some modules. However, experienced academics teach the majority of lectures and seminars.

You will be assessed largely by coursework and project work, though some modules will also have examinations or class tests. Coursework is mainly practically-oriented with appropriate theoretical elements to ensure a well-rounded education. Assessments are generally individual, with group work in some modules where this matches the approaches used in industry.

We use coursework assessment methods based on their suitability for specific modules. Formative feedback is provided formally in year one and during the year three individual study, and informally in workshops and seminars. Methods of assessment used include production of software artefacts, project plans and diaries, essays, reports, ‘investigation-based’ presentations, oral presentations, individual studies/projects, poster presentations, online assessment, logs, examinations and time constrained assignments.

Percentage of the course assessed by coursework

The balance of assessment by examination and assessment by coursework depends to some extent on the optional modules you choose. The approximate percentage of the course assessed by coursework is as follows:

Year 1

  • 50% assessment with 38% by class test examination and 12% by Debate.

Year 2*

  • 83% by assessment with 17% by class test examination.

Year 3*

  • 70% by assessment with 10% by dissertation and the remainder by presentation.

*The precise percentages will depend on options chosen.

Feedback

You will receive feedback on all practice assessments and on formal assessments undertaken by coursework. Feedback on examination performance is available upon request from the module leader. Feedback is intended to help you learn and you are encouraged to discuss it with your module tutor.

We aim to provide you with feedback within 15 working days of hand-in (formal coursework assessment).

We have a “Makerspace” lab open to computing students that contains PC’s, Arduino and Raspberry Pi micro­computer development systems and a 3D printer. We also have specialist commercial grade forensic software from different vendors to help you to perform analysis of mobiles phones, hand-held devices and computers. You can use these technologies on weekdays, evenings and weekends, subject to availability. A networking and server room will also be available for use during certain modules for student operations.

Out of hours access is available to some computing labs specifically for computing students.

Several of the academic staff are members of the British Computer Society (BCS) and some staff are also linked to the Engineering Council through Chartered Engineering status (CEng, or Eur. Ing.). Some staff are also former practitioners in their field with considerable experience and connections to current practitioners in their respective industries.

UK/EU

Full-time study

Apply via UCAS

Part-time study

Apply directly to us

International

Full-time study

Need some help?

UK

For advice on completing your application please contact the Course Enquiry Team:

Email: courses@canterbury.ac.uk
Tel:+44 (0)1227 928000 (0)1227 928000

EU/International

Contact our International Team

Fact file

UCAS course code

  • FG45 Computer Forensics and Security
  • FG46 Computer Forensics and Security (With Year in Industry)

UCAS institution code

  • C10

Length

  • 3 years full-time

    6 years part-time

    Additional year in industry available

Starts

  • September 2020

Entry requirements

Location

School

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Last edited: 23/04/2019 16:59:00