BSc single honours Computer Forensics and Security 2018/19

Year of entry

Apply from September 2017. Come to an Open Day

Computer forensics and security are dynamic and growing areas of computing. As cybercrime continues to rise, so does the need for computing professionals to lead the fight against it. You will study specialist computing forensics and security issues alongside broader computing topics, using a variety of different tools and techniques, working with a range of tools, programming languages and operating systems.

Computer security involves protecting computer systems from malicious attacks, human error, and exploitation of vulnerabilities. This includes utilising an ethical hacking approach to highlight security vulnerabilities so that they can be fixed or mitigated. Computer forensics focuses on recovering intelligence and evidence from digital devices for the purposes of remediation, litigation and prosecution.

You will explore areas including:

  • computer security and ethical hacking
  • digital forensics on computer and mobile devices
  • network forensics and open source intelligence gathering

Our academic support in Forensic Computing has a 95% rating.

National Student Survey, 2015

Computer Forensics and Security are interesting, dynamic and growing areas of Computing. As cybercrime continues to rise, so too does the need for computing professionals to lead the fight against it. Computer security involves (amongst other things) protecting computer systems from malicious attacks, human error, and exploitation of vulnerabilities. This includes utilising an ethical hacking approach to highlight security vulnerabilities so that they can be fixed or mitigated.

The School of Law, Criminal Justice and Computing, where this programme is housed and taught, has close links with the College of Policing and Europol, and students from this programme have gone on to successful careers in the computer forensics and computer security industries.

The course provides the opportunity to apply a comprehensive theoretical background to realistic scenarios using popular, industry standard software, hardware and systems. They are taught under the guidance of staff with real­world experience of conducting forensic investigations enabling our graduates to have an immediate productive impact when they begin their careers.

Dr Abhaya Induruwa, principal lecturer, who specialises in the field of networking and mobile computer forensics is an inductee into the Internet Hall of Fame (2014) for his role in developing research and Internet deployment in Sri Lanka.

This course is for you if you have a keen interest in learning more about recovering intelligence and evidence from digital devices. The field of computer forensics uses these skills for the purposes of remediation, litigation and/or prosecution. The aim of this course is to equip you with the theoretical knowledge and practical skills needed to enter these exciting areas of computing.

"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

Students on this course 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.

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. A variety of different tools and techniques are studied over the three years. We work in the Microsoft Windows and Linux operating systems, with programming languages such as C#, Bash and Perl. A mixture of forensic and security tools such as EnCase, FTK, X-Ways and Aceso, Metasploit, nmap and Wireshark are used.

In the third year you will undertake a substantive piece of research in an individual study. This allows 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. We also have a number of guest lecturers each year.

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

more info

 

Work experience

You may opt to take a third year placement module, providing you meet the requirements of the module. This allows you to put your classroom knowledge into practice.

The School has also offered a number of paid student internships over the summer, open to students to apply to. For instance, a previous paid internship opportunity involved a group of students looking at security issues of products deemed to be in the ‘Internet of Things’.

The teaching staff includes a digital forensic specialist with real-world experience of both criminal and civil investigations in the UK and overseas. Ian Kennedy spent time in law enforcement for Kent Police and commercial computer forensics for Control Risks. His real-world experience helps to bring a solid grounding to our teaching.

Year one

Core modules

Computer Forensics and Cybersecurity

We introduce the key principles and concepts underpinning the discipline. This includes a blend of both theoretical and practical skills aimed to be applicable to both criminal and civil investigations.  You will also be taught how to look for and identify evidence that links a user to a given crime, showing both the action and the intent behind it.  By developing a problem­solving approach based on first principles and the scientific principles of hypothesis testing, you will be equipped with the skills to operate as an effective forensic practitioner following industry best practice across multiple jurisdictions.

Computer Systems

Computer systems examines the underlying fundamentals of computer system’s operations, including the number systems they use, how computer processors operate at a simple level and the relationship between different hardware components.

The Computing Professional

This module introduces you to the variety of roles there are in computing and some of the key skills required to work in those areas. You will also start to think about the ethical issues in the field of computing and start to develop your own ideas of appropriate responses to these. You will also start to look at some of the non­technical skills that are involved in computing: team work, presentation and research.

Introduction to Programming

This is the first module of programming in the degree and assumes you have no prior programming experience.  You will be taught some of the fundamental concepts in the area. You will work with two different programming languages – for example you will develop Android apps using MIT App Inventor and traditional applications in the C# programming language.

Principles of Software Development

We look at the basic ideas of software engineering – the processes that should be followed to go through to develop software solutions. You will also study the basic concepts of standard algorithms and data storage and the mathematics required to support this area.

Transfer and Trace Materials

This module develops your understanding of the wide range of physical evidence and intelligence which can be recovered to show that a particular person is connected to a digital device, computer or workstation by means other than assumed ownership or through analysis of data within it. You will learn the underlying theories, such as Locard’s Exchange Principle and the notion of uniqueness and individualisation.

Year two

Core modules

Computer Security

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.

Computer Law and Ethics

The Computer Law and Ethics module looks at the laws that apply especially to computer systems and their users. A largely UK centred approach is taken looking at such laws as the Data Protection Act and the Computer Misuse Act how these have been applied in practice and how they might apply in the future.  A key skill you will be taught is how to advise management on the ethical and professional factors which should be taken into account when planning an appropriate legal and ethical response to a given set of circumstances, such as a network breach.

Computer Networks

The computer networks module introduces you to the theories and practical deployment of computer networks to enable more than one computer to communicate to share both data and processing. You will be introduced to the OSI and TCP/IP models of network operation.

Data Recovery and Analysis

This module looks at the principles of file systems, operating systems and networking, and how this information relates to the recovery and analysis of data. You will use commercial, open source and free tools to develop techniques used in data recovery. You are also equipped with the necessary skills to identify, examine and present digital evidence for use in legal proceedings.

Developing Database Systems with SQL

This module looks at the concepts and theories behind the use the relational database model and how this is practically implemented in the Oracle Relational Database Management System using the SQL language. Oracle is the world’s most popular database management system by market share.

Research Methods

Research methods looks at how we can research new areas in computing. You will be given a range of tools to glean data, such as interviews, questionnaires and experimentation. You will also be given the analysis tools to make sense of the data collected, such qualitative and quantitative statistics. By the end of the module you will have produced a fully articulated research proposal.

Year three

Core modules

Individual Study

This module is the culmination of your learning experiences on the entire course. Under the guidance of a supervisor, you will undertake a piece of focussed research. This will build on work completed elsewhere on the course by an in­depth study of one aspect of such work or by the exploration of a new area.  The output of such work can demonstrate to a prospective employer your skills at applying the knowledge you have gained throughout your degree. 

Digital Forensics and Ethical Hacking

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.

Ethical and Professional Computing

This module deepens the understanding of how ethics and professional codes of conduct may affect what a computing professional will do and how they approach it. You will look at a number of issues and use an evidence­based approach to consider the alternative choices that would be open to a person working in the computing field.

Recent Advances in Computer Networks

The computer networks module introduces you to the theories and practical deployment of computer networks to enable more than one computer to communicate to share both data and processing. You will be introduced to the OSI and TCP/IP models of network operation.

Likely optional modules

Advanced Database Development with Oracle

This module deepens your knowledge of database development, following on from Developing Database Systems with SQL, giving you a greater understanding in order to maximize the benefits of using a Database Management System.

Cryptology

Cryptology is the study of codes and ciphers. These are highly important in the computer environment to protect information from malicious attack or unintended release. You will study the operation of modern computer­based ciphers and other cryptographic mechanisms, which when combined can form protective protocols for a number of computer and everyday problems.

Forensic Intelligence Modelling

This module provides you with an understanding of the potential of intelligence systems within the forensic investigation process, and the application of modelling techniques for crime scene reconstruction. The intelligence systems are not just employed by investigators in a ‘reactive’ manner, for example, in the use of DNA databases but increasingly more proactively. Modelling is used to derive testable hypotheses for events before, during and after a crime and is often based upon principles from the physical sciences.

Operating Systems

This module looks at the operation and underlying operations of the operating system in the use of modern, large­scale computer systems. You will gain an understanding of how resources are managed by the operating system by looking at these in theory and the actual operation of an operating system, such as Windows and Linux.

Placement in Industry or Commerce (Subject to Approval)

The placement module is a flexible module that allows you to gain experience and put your knowledge into practice outside the university classroom setting. This can be done over the summer before your third year of study as a block of work, during your third year on a given number of hours each week, or some combination in agreement with the organisation and University.

You will be required to: pass all your second year modules of study at first attempt; have a good overall average and must gain your placement place to be eligible to take this module. You will be given some assistance in identifying and applying for placements, but you will be expected to secure the placement itself.

93% of School of Law, Criminal Justice and Computing graduates were in employment or further study six months after completing their studies.

DLHE 2013-14

Examples of roles that graduates of this course could consider include digital forensic investigators in law enforcement, intelligence services, consultancy, financial, healthcare or other corporate sectors where digital forensics is employed. You could also consider roles in computer security in similar domains.

As a graduate of the course, you also will be able to use your analytical and process development skills in other business areas.

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.

Tuition Fees for 2018/19 have not yet been finalised - please read the 2018/19 Tuition Fee Statement for further information regarding 2018/19 tuition fees and year on year fee increases.

Fees

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) Yes, if the trip contributes to the course (whether it is part of an optional or compulsory module), but not including food and drink. Yes, if the trip is not an essential part of the course but is offered as an enhancement or enrichment activity, or for a student’s personal development.
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.

You can expect 12 hours per week contact time in the first two years and 10 hours a week in year three with additional time for classes and supervisions for your individual project.

In year one, you will also have optional peer tutor sessions when students in year two or three assist students with your work.

Approximately half the hours each week will be formal lectures and half will be seminar or workshop based. Feedback on work undertaken so far may also form part of lecture or other sessions in the week.

You should expect to spend approximately 12-­24 hours a week of additional time to get the most out of the formal teaching sessions and to do assessments.

Academic input

You can expect to be taught by a combination of principal lecturers, senior lecturers, lecturers and university instructors. Many staff members are Members or Fellows of the British Computer Society or similar professional organisations.

The Digital Forensics Programme Director is a former digital forensic investigator with considerable experience in law enforcement, corporate investigation and intelligence. Other staff members have taught Europol courses, were forensic investigators and were serving law enforcement officers.

You will be assessed largely by coursework, though some modules will have examinations or class tests. Coursework is largely practically­oriented with appropriate theoretical elements to ensure a well­rounded education. Assessments are largely individual, with group work for 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 the year three individual study, and informally in later years’ workshops and seminars. Methods of assessment used include production of software artefacts, project plans and diaries, essays, reports, ‘investigation­based’ presentations, oral presentations, individual studies/projects, poster presentations, online assessment, logs, examinations and time constrained assignments.

Students of the course have access to a specialist computer forensic lab and equipment throughout their studies. The lab houses a dedicated network, separate to the rest of the university, allowing you to experiment and learn at your own pace between classes. Furthermore, this is accessible both during the day (subject to availability) and out of hours.

We have a Makerspace lab open to computing students that contains PC Computers, Arduino and Raspberry Pi micro­computer development systems and a 3D printer. Students can use these technologies on week days, evenings and weekends. A networking and server room will also be available for use during certain modules for student operations.

The University also has a specialist Hydra suite. The facility is an immersive simulation system, supported by the Hydra Foundation, that provides a unique, high­fidelity learning environment that enables the monitoring of real­ time leadership and decision making in critical incidents such as terrorist attacks, murders and abductions.

Our academic staff members have a number of contacts in industry that provide input to course development, master classes and in some instances placement opportunities, subject to availability.

Several of the academic staff are members of the British Computer Society (BCS) and some staff are linked to the Engineering Council through Chartered Engineer (CEng) status.

Fact file

UCAS code

  • FG45 Computer Forensics and Security

Institutional code

  • C10

Length

  • 3 years full-time

    6 years part-time

Starts

  • September 2018

Entry requirements

  • A typical offer would be 96-112 UCAS Tariff points. GCSE Mathematics at grade C, or above (or equivalent) is advisable. More entry requirement details.

Location

School

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Last edited: 21/08/2017 14:38:00