The MSc in Software and Systems Security teaches the principles of systems security, with a particular emphasis upon the security properties and implications of software and information technologies. It offers working professionals the opportunity to learn more about the application of these principles, current best practice and the latest advances in the field, through a course of part-time study at one of the world's leading universities.
The Department of Computer Science offers professional courses in 15 different subjects in the area of systems security: from design to forensics; from governance to malware; and from wireless networks to cloud platforms. It offers also courses in another 25 subjects, each addressing a different aspect of computer science or software engineering. To earn an MSc in Software and Systems Security, you must complete courses in ten different subjects, the majority of which must be in the area of systems security.
Each course is delivered by an expert in the subject, and is based around a single, intensive teaching week of classes, practical sessions, and group work; class sizes are kept small to facilitate interaction and to promote effective learning. Each subject is taught at least once a year - some are taught two or three times - and most can be studied in any order. Most students will spend three or four years completing the 10 courses required for the MSc.
An assignment will be distributed on the last day of the teaching week. This builds upon the learning of the week, allowing you to test and extend your understanding through application outside the classroom. It also provides, through the subsequent submission within a six-week time frame, the basis for assessment; all assignments are treated as formal examinations of the University.
To earn the MSc, you must complete also a short project and dissertation in the area of software and systems security. The project needs to be an original demonstration of ability and understanding, but there is no requirement to advance the state of the art in the field. You need only choose and apply an appropriate selection of existing ideas and techniques provided that their choice, the process of application, and any outcomes are properly explained.
The project involves compulsory attendance at a one-week project course in Oxford, at which you will present and refine your proposal, and attend teaching sessions on research skills, engineering in context, and social, legal and ethical issues.
The results of the project work are presented in a dissertation of 15,000 to 20,000 words, or 45 to 60 pages. This forms the basis for formal assessment of the project, just as the written assignments form the basis for assessment of the taught modules. The dissertation can be submitted at any time during the allowed period of study, although it is usually the last piece of work undertaken.
You will be assigned a supervisor at the beginning of your period of study. Supervisors can provide advice on all academic matters including course selection, the choice of a suitable project and the preparation of a dissertation.