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MSc Computer Networks and Security

Why we're great

  • Observe the techniques of cyber attackers and use specialist security tools to stop them
  • Get hands-on with our practical laboratory modules in software engineering and computer networking
  • Your degree is accredited by the Institution of Engineering and Technology – your first stage towards professional registration as a Chartered Engineer

Course options2016-17

Duration: 1 year
Start month: October
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Computer Science and Electronic Engineering (School of)
Fee (Home/EU): £5,950
Fee (International): £14,500

Duration: 2 years
Start month: October
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Computer Science and Electronic Engineering (School of)
Fee (Home/EU): £2,975
Fee (International): £7,250

Course enquiries

Telephone 01206 872719
Email pgadmit@essex.ac.uk

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About the course

Increasingly, computer networks cannot be considered without the important issue of security; without secure networks, businesses, commerce and communications would all fail. This course addresses the need for modern computer network professionals.

You cover topics such as current and future internet protocols, programming networked services and securing these systems. We offer a strong practical element through laboratory programmes in software engineering and in computer networking; laboratory work in security includes unique environments where the techniques of the attackers can be observed and stopped using specialist security tools.

Our School is a community of scholars leading the way in technological research and development. Today’s computer scientists are creative people who are focused and committed, yet restless and experimental. We are home to many of the world’s top scientists, and our work is driven by creativity and imagination as well as technical excellence.

We are ranked Top 10 in the UK in the 2015 Academic Ranking of World Universities, with more than two-thirds of our research rated ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent (REF 2014).

This course is also available on a part-time basis.

Professional accreditation

This degree is accredited by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET).This accreditation is increasingly sought by employers, and provides the first stage towards eventual professional registration as a Chartered Engineer (CEng).

Our expert staff

Specialist staff researching computer networks include Professor Mohammed Ghanbari, Dr Nigel Newton, Professor Stuart Walker, and Professor Klaus McDonald-Maier.

More broadly, our research covers a range of topics, from materials science and semiconductor device physics, to the theory of computation and the philosophy of computer science, with most of our research groups based around laboratories offering world-class facilities.

In recent years we have attracted many highly active research staff and we are conducting world-leading research in areas such as evolutionary computation, brain-computer interfacing, intelligent inhabited environments and financial forecasting.

Our impressive external research funding stands at over £4 million and we participate in a number of EU initiatives and undertake projects under contract to many outside bodies, including government and industrial organisations.

Specialist facilities

We are one of the largest and best resourced computer science and electronic engineering schools in the UK. Our work is supported by extensive networked computer facilities and software aids, together with a wide range of test and instrumentation equipment.

  • We have six laboratories that are exclusively for computer science and electronic engineering students. Three are open 24/7, and you have free access to the labs except when there is a scheduled practical class in progress
  • All computers run either Windows 7 or are dual boot with Linux
  • Software includes Java, Prolog, C++, Perl, Mysql, Matlab, DB2, Microsoft Office, Visual Studio, and Project
  • Students have access to CAD tools and simulators for chip design (Xilinx) and computer networks (OPNET)
  • We also have specialist facilities for research into areas including non-invasive brain-computer interfaces, intelligent environments, robotics, optoelectronics, video, RF and MW, printed circuit milling, and semiconductors

Your future

Graduates of our degree in this area have found work in a variety of networking roles and companies including, network management for companies, Internet service providers and developers for security products both in the UK and overseas.

Our recent graduates have progressed to a variety of senior positions in industry and academia. Some of the companies and organisations where our former graduates are now employed include:

  • Electronic Data Systems
  • Pfizer Pharmaceuticals
  • Bank of Mexico
  • Visa International
  • Hyperknowledge (Cambridge)
  • Hellenic Air Force
  • ICSS (Beijing)
  • United Microelectronic Corporation (Taiwan)

We also work with the university’s Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

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Example structure

Postgraduate study is the chance to take your education to the next level. The combination of compulsory and optional modules means our courses help you develop extensive knowledge in your chosen discipline, whilst providing plenty of freedom to pursue your own interests. Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore to ensure your course is as relevant and up-to-date as possible your core module structure may be subject to change.

For many of our courses you’ll have a wide range of optional modules to choose from – those listed in this example structure are, in many instances, just a selection of those available. Our Programme Specification gives more detail about the structure available to our current postgraduate students, including details of all optional modules.

Year 1

What fascinates you? Apply your learning in computer science or engineering to solve a problem. Design, implement and evaluate a solution, producing a dissertation on your investigation and giving an oral presentation of your work. Test your knowledge, while gaining practical experience and building your project management skills.

View 'MSc Project and Dissertation' on our Module Directory

This course gives an introduction to computer security and cryptography, and then goes on to consider security as it relates to a single, network connected, computer. Introductory material is independent of any operating system but the consideration of tools will focus on those available for Linux, partly because its open-source nature facilitates this and partly because it is widely used on server systems. The introduction to cryptography will be used to consider its use in encryption and authentication.

View 'Computer Security' on our Module Directory

This module introduces the Internet and computer networking from both a theoretical and practical perspective. It is the module where computers are merging with communications to create a fundamentally new system  - the World Wide Web. The design, organisation, and operation of networks and the Internet are the subject of this module. The areas which are covered in the module are at the heart of modern network-connected world. In brief - the module will provide you as a future computer network specialist with a comprehensive knowledge of design, organisation, and operating principles of modern computer networks. The module first examines the architecture and operation of the Internet protocols (IPs), and shows how information is processed and routed across the Internet. The operation and configuration of routers is discussed alongside the details of protocol operation. The module then discusses the rationale behind the next generation internet protocol IPv6, in particular regarding addressing architecture, header functions, and novel protocol concepts. A comparison between the current IPv4 and the future IPv6 protocols and transition to the next generation protocol are discussed in depth. The function and implementation of its main support protocols are also covered. The application of these new networking ideas is illustrated by the application of IPv6 to problems in network layer services, especially security, and the Internet of Things (IoTs).  In order to provide both good theoretical knowledge and strong applied skills, in addition to the lectures the module is supported by the problem solving classes.

View 'IP Networking and Applications' on our Module Directory

This module provides an introduction to the architecture and services of modern telecommunication networks. A general introduction illustrates the major features of a network, how they interact and introduce the concept of an intelligent network. Switching is an essential requirement and the ideas behind circuit, packet and cell switching are presented. The basics of the TCP/IP protocol suite are described. Optical transmission and networking, key features for future networks, are discussed. To present the main concepts involved in current and future telecommunication and information networks, the concepts presented will be supported by the other core courses.

View 'Networking Principles' on our Module Directory

How do you measure the performance of networks? How can you capture network traffic and analyse network protocols? And how do you compare interior gateway routing protocols? Use our laboratory to study practical aspects of computer networks, working on individual systems and communication over the Internet.

View 'Networks Laboratory' on our Module Directory

This module aims to prepare students for conducting an independent research project leading to a dissertation and to provide them with an appreciation of research and business skills related to their professional career. As a precursor to their project students, individually select an area of Computer Science, or Electronic Engineering, or Computational Finance and perform the necessary background research to define a topic and prepare a project proposal under the guidance of a supervisor. The module guides them by a) introducing common research methods b) creating an understanding of basic statistics for describing and making conclusions from data c) helping to write a strong proposal including learning how to perform literature search and evaluation and d) giving an in-depth view into the business enterprise, financial and management accounting and investment appraisal.

View 'Professional Practice and Research Methodology' on our Module Directory

The aim of this module is to provide an introduction to computer programming for students with little or no previous experience. The Python language is used in the Linux environment, and students are given a comprehensive introduction to both during the module. The emphasis is on developing the practical skills necessary to write effective programs, with examples taken principally from the realm of data processing and analysis. You will learn how to manipulate and analyse data, graph them and fit models to them. Teaching takes place in workshop-style sessions in a software laboratory, so you can try things out as soon as you learn about them.

View 'Programming in Python' on our Module Directory

We now live in the era of the cloud, fifty years after John McCarthy first proposed that computing could accessed like a public utility, just as we plug a device in to an electricity socket. Cloud computing, making large-scale datacentres and their facilities publically available over the Internet, is now an economic engine of growth. It certainly generates income for the giants of the computing industry, such as Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Oracle. But it also benefits numerous small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that transfer their e-commerce, Big Data, Web and business analytics, and IT applications to a cloud in a way that would have been impossible previously, because the SMEs would have lacked the start-up capital. There are also employment opportunities in third-party companies that manage clouds, help transfer applications to a cloud, and create software to run novel applications on a cloud. The module will therefore be of interest to those hoping to enter the cloud-computing industry. More specifically this module provides students with an understanding of the key architectural features and technologies of cloud computing. It investigates virtualization of resources, the service oriented architecture, large-scale data management, and networking. The module also reviews contemporary developments such as green and mobile cloud computing. A theoretical analysis of cloud technologies is supplemented by analysis of actual data-centres and services, available from major providers including Amazon, Google, and Microsoft. Practical work within the module provides students with hands-on experience of virtualization and the performance of typical applications such as video transcoding and mapReduce-based parallel computation.

View 'Cloud Technologies and Systems (optional)' on our Module Directory

We are living in a world of multiple networking technologies, either wired or wireless. There is a need for these network technologies to converge in order to provide seamless services to end users. This course is to look into the fundamentals towards this goal. This course will begin with the motivation behind network and service convergence and then introduce the network architectures that are being deployed today. Then quality of service (QoS) metrics such as delay, jitter, packet loss, etc. and QoS mechanisms will be introduced. The course will go on into various types of service and network convergences covering wireless + wireless convergence and wired + wireless convergence. The course will then describe fundamentals of a key issue that is common for any type of convergence: mobility. Finally the course will finish by introducing a clean-slate future Internet technology called ICN (Information Centric Networking).

View 'Converged Networks and Services (optional)' on our Module Directory

Acquire critical and transferable skills associated with the creation and growth of new business ventures. You focus on the development process from start up to early stage growth of new ventures, new small businesses spin offs from large firms, and especially innovative, technology-based firms. You study opportunity identification, self-efficacy, ideas generation, bricolage and bootstrapping, developing business models, networking, marketing, and finance.

View 'Creating and Growing a New Business Venture (optional)' on our Module Directory

What are the main challenges when using wireless connections? And what are the higher-layer techniques for exploiting wireless physical links? Study the technology underlying current and future wireless communications systems. Understand the concepts of radio transmissions and the different types of multiple access techniques.

View 'Mobile Communications (optional)' on our Module Directory

What issues are associated with providing broadband data access? Or in the migration from voice to IP-based network traffic? What are the common technologies used for IP transport over core networks? Examine the background and key aspects of broadband access and metropolitan area networks.

Teaching

  • Courses provide a thorough and up-to-date knowledge of the theory, methods and applications of computer science
  • Core components combined with optional modules, to enable you to gain either in-depth specialisation or a breadth of understanding
  • Our postgraduates are encouraged to attend conferences and seminars, as well as engage with the wider research community

Assessment

  • Courses are assessed on the results of your written examinations, together with continual assessments of your practical work and coursework

Dissertation

  • Your research project allows you to focus in depth on your chosen topic from April
  • Close supervision by faculty staff

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Qualifications

UK entry requirements

We will consider applications with an overall grade of 2:2 and above.

International and EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Email pgadmit@essex.ac.uk for further details about the qualifications we accept. Include information in your email about the undergraduate qualification you have already completed or are currently taking.

IELTS entry requirements

IELTS 6.0 overall with a minimum component score of 5.5

If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.

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Visit us

Open days

We hold postgraduate events in February/March and November, and open days for all our applicants throughout the year. Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex, and give you the chance to:

  • tour our campus and accommodation
  • find out answers to your questions about our courses, student finance, graduate employability, student support and more
  • meet our students and staff

If the dates of our organised events aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing tours@essex.ac.uk and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.

Virtual tours

If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tour allows you to explore the Colchester Campus from the comfort of your home. Check out our accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.

Exhibitions

Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.

Applying

You can apply for our postgraduate courses online. You’ll need to provide us with your academic qualifications, as well as supporting documents such as transcripts, English language qualifications and certificates. You can find a list of necessary documents online, but please note we won’t be able to process your application until we have everything we need.

There is no application deadline but we recommend that you apply before 1 July for our taught courses starting in October. We aim to respond to applications within two weeks. If we are able to offer you a place, you will be contacted via email.

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Although great care is taken in compiling our course details, they are intended for the general guidance of prospective students only. The University reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University.

The full procedures, rules and regulations of the University are set out in the Charter, Statues and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.