MSc Cybersecurity and Artificial Intelligence
Due to the popularity of the MSc courses offered by the Department of Computer Science, we have introduced a staged admissions process for entry in September 2019. We will use this process to consider all applications received on or after 15 February 2019.
For more information please see the staged admissions web pages
Start date: September 2019
The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers.In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption
The Need for Cybersecurity
Many of our societal infrastructures have been digital for quite some time, e.g. telecoms, banking, e-commerce, and social media. The trend to increasing digitization continues apace, with areas such as health, power distribution, transport and manufacturing increasingly embracing the opportunities digitisation offers. In particular, the drive to increased automation and ‘smart’ operation inevitably means increased use of computation.
The Internet of Things, perhaps the highest profile development in computing of recent times, marks a step change in connectivity, with some estimating 50 billion devices coming on-line by 2020. There is little doubt that we are hugely dependent on interconnected devices and systems and there are many opportunities to inflict malicious damage on them. Unsurprisingly, cybersecurity problems are reported in the media everyday. Cybersecurity is one of the most pressing problems of our day and securing computational systems and infrastructures is critical for healthy operation of modern societies.
“Combining Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and an understanding of Cyber Security is going to be critical as Government services are digitised, and entitlement to services needs to be tightly monitored and controlled.”
John Wright, Head of Public Sector Services, IndigoBlue
Why Cybersecurity and Artificial Intelligence?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has achieved an exceptional profile in recent years. If cybersecurity is one of the most pressing problems of our day then AI is perhaps the highest profile solution technology. Much ’smart’ infrastructure is underpinned by AI and the provision of insight via data analytics is becoming pervasive. Harnessing AI to provide more secure component and system designs and to provide insights into system operation, e.g. to detect intruders, is a natural goal.
AI underpins so much of the operation of modern day smart infrastructural and the AI algorithms and systems at the heart of such operation may themselves be maliciously attacked with great effect, e.g. the insertion of trapdoors into the neural networks that provide image recognition for automated car operation could cause catastrophic loss of life. Additionally, smart ‘attacks’ supported by AI means are now beginning to emerge; this introduces a new and worrying level of sophistication.
There is little doubt that AI will play a variety of offensive and defensive roles in the area of cybersecurity. Our MSc programme provides a grounding in cybersecurity fundamentals. It also provides a grounding in aspects of AI of significant relevance to cybersecurity, covering fundamental and widely applicable machine learning technologies, the computational support to use them, and specific data analytics technologies (text and speech processing).
The MSc is designed to provide you with a grounding in both Cybersecurity and Artificial Intelligence (AI) that will enable you to work at the interface of the two topics with confidence. It does so via taught modules and a research project.
There are four taught Cybersecurity modules and four in AI. These cover fundamental technologies, processes and mechanisms in each area together with specific applications.
You will learn via a range of activities that include: lectures, externally led seminars, computer lab practicals, online mini-lectures, small group work, online quizzes, and poster and podcast preparation.
Module are supported by external literature and reading around the subject is important. You are expected to study independently as well as engaging in the activities indicated above.
We teach technical fundamentals but also develop wider skills: the MSc is predominantly 'technical', but we expect you to become familiar with and understand the contextual issues (legal, ethical, sociological, political etc.) that apply to working in Cybersecurity and AI. It is a controversial area that requires you to become a responsible professional as well as a technically well-informed one.
We are supported in our delivery of the MSc by regional and national organisations with interests in Cybersecurity and AI. The MSc includes at least ten industrially or commercially led seminars, where our collaborators identify challenges and provide professional insights based on their real world experience. Some research projects may also involve our collaborators.
The eight modules are taught over two 15-week semesters, with two Cybersecurity and two AI modules in each semester. These are assessed by a variety of means, e.g., by examination, report, poster or podcast preparation, and online quizzes. Each module is worth 15 credits and make up two thirds of your final degree mark.
Successful completion of the taught modules allows you to proceed to the dissertation project. This is a challenging piece of research at the interface of Cybersecurity and AI and is worth a third of your final degree mark (and so corresponds to 60 Credits). It is assessed by a preliminary report and a final report.
Be in demand
The MSc in Cybersecurity and Artificial Intelligence will equip you with the key skills valued by employers, enabling you to progress rapidly within your chosen profession. Graduates are in demand with potential employment routes including:
What employers are saying
“We feel that NCC Group would be an ideal place for graduates of this course to begin their cybersecurity careers – the breadth of our work and client base means that there are boundless opportunities for graduates of this course.” Matt Lewis, Research Director NCC Group.
“Combining Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and an understanding of Cyber Security is going to be critical as Government services are digitised, and entitlement to services needs to be tightly monitored and controlled.” John Wright, Head of Public Sector Services, IndigoBlue
“The combination of cybersecurity skills with artificial intelligence is an exceptional one - combining skills in both areas should deliver graduates in very significant demand.” Derek Burton, Company Leader, Cougar Automation Ltd.
“The skills mix is very rare. Companies with access to such skills will be at a distinct commercial advantage. The application of AI as a flexible solution paradigm in cybersecurity seems a truly excellent proposition.” Steve Brown, Managing Director Highlander IT Systems
“The importance of the proposed programme and its alignment with our company's strategic goals allows me to enthusiastically support it and I look forward to a fruitful collaboration.” Paul Haimes, Vice-President, Technical Sales and Business Development PTC (UK) Limited
“Sky Betting & Gaming welcome the prospect of an MSc course presenting academically rigorous material with ready, practical applications in the enterprise.” Greg Knell, Head of Security, Sky Betting and Gaming.
"We believe this MSc programme is perfectly aligned to our requirements as an employer and also our passion for investment in the future as technologists. The mix of cybersecurity skills with artificial intelligence is highly desirable; the programme’s graduates should have excellent employment and career prospects.“ Dave Cates, Managing Director Redemption Media
We are also enthusiastically supported by Sheffield City Region and Sheffield Digital.
The above organisations have agreed to support the development of our programme in a variety of ways, including guest lectures to give an industrial or commercial viewpoint, development and delivery of taught materials, participation in project developments, sponsorship of prizes, co-definition and supervision of projects (and in some cases hosting project students on site).