Postgraduate study
Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

Cyber Security, Privacy and Trust MSc, PgDip

Awards: MSc, PgDip

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Our societies are critically dependent on computer software. Electronic systems are everywhere, and governments, financial and transport organisations, or telecommunication companies all possess and manage huge amounts of sensitive information concerning all of our everyday activities.

With the emergence of new systems and services, every aspect of our life is relying on / is recorded by some computerised system, such as:

  • electronic IDs and passports
  • electronic payment systems and loyalty schemes
  • electronic tickets
  • telecommunication systems

As such, we have been witnessing a significant increase in attacks targeting computing infrastructure. The cyber security threat has been characterised as serious as terrorism by the GCHQ, therefore the need for graduates with highly specialised training in this area is ever-growing.

Cyber security and privacy is the study of the computational principles, methods and mechanisms for safe-guarding these sensitive applications. Graduates of the programme will learn how to evaluate, design, and implement secure and trustworthy systems in complex distributed systems.

Many research areas have tackled parts of this problem – students on this degree will experience training from academic experts in a uniquely broad combination of theory and practice:

  • Secure Software
  • Cryptography
  • Secure Hardware
  • Verification
  • Post Quantum
  • Data Privacy
  • Usability
  • Fintech
  • Health
  • Smart Contracts
  • Distributed Ledgers
  • Privacy Preserving Data Mining

The overall programme delivers intellectual and practical experience in all aspects of cyber security, privacy, and trust, such as:

  • dealing with real-world applications
  • applying and extending state-of-the-art defence mechanisms
  • engineering end-to-end secure and trustworthy systems
  • communicating results through oral and written reports

The one-year degree consists of two components:

  1. Approximately seven months of taught courses in two semesters.
  2. Up to four months of project work leading to a dissertation.

During the first taught part of the course (September to March) you will:

  • attend lectures, tutorials and group practicals
  • acquire the theoretical foundation that enables you to engage in independent research
  • gain 120 taught course credit points during the course of the year

Between May and August, you will complete the degree by making a practical application of your knowledge by undertaking a major individual research project on which you will write a dissertation. The project is normally supervised by a member of academic staff as one of their research interests, with assistance from their research team.

Those studying the two-year part-time option take half of the taught credits in their first year, and the other half in the second year, followed by full-time work on the final project in the Summer at the end of the second year. There is also a three-year part-time option which spreads the final project over a third year. Both options require flexibility during the Semesters: our large course offering means that taught courses have contact times at irregular hours throughout the whole week.

  • Understand security-related risk in a broad context and the means to mitigate such risk.
  • Understand the process of building a secure application in all its levels and stages and be able to demonstrate this understanding in supervised system building efforts.
  • Have advanced knowledge of the state of the art in research in cyber security, privacy and trust, and its applications.
  • Understand research methodologies relating to cyber security, privacy, and trust, at a level that permits the student to engage in future doctoral research.
  • Know the main research methodologies used in cyber security, privacy, and trust.

This degree will put you at the cutting edge of the field of cyber security, privacy, and trust, opening a host of opportunities in the commercial sector, public and academic sectors.

The graduates will have the necessary background to keep up with developments in cyber security, both in research and engineering.

Typical areas to pursue a career include:

  • Security Analyst
  • Security Architect
  • Security Engineer
  • Security Administrator
  • Cyber Risk Analyst
  • Cryptographer
  • Cryptanalyst
  • Security Consultant
  • Security Auditor
  • Secure Software Developer
  • Penetration Tester
  • Ethical Hacker
  • Security Researcher (in academia or industry)
  • security officers of various kinds in government and public sector positions (the National Cyber Security Centre has explicitly expressed interest in collaborating with our program)

There are well established career development paths and certification schemes including CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional) run by ISC2 (International Information System Security Certification Consortium).

There is a new UK government-sponsored initiative delivering a new Cyber Security Body of Knowledge which is intended to describe curricula frameworks for the future, to inform and underpin education and professional training for the cyber security sector.

You will be based in the School of Informatics’ main teaching building, Appleton Tower. The building provides purpose-built facilities and dedicated learning and teaching spaces, all located in the University's Central Area.

IT facilities include computer labs with more than 250 high-spec machines and comprehensive support provided by dedicated computing staff.

The Informatics Student Experience Team is based within the Student Services in Appleton Tower.

If you take courses from other Schools, these might be delivered in the Nucleus building, on the University's Kings Buildings Campus.

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These entry requirements are for the 2024/25 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2025/26 academic year will be published on 1 Oct 2024.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in informatics, artificial intelligence, cognitive science, computer science, electrical engineering, linguistics, mathematics, philosophy, physics, psychology, or another quantitative discipline.

Entry to this programme is competitive. A typical offer will normally require a UK first class honours degree.

You should have experience of computer programming equivalent to an introductory programming course and have completed the equivalent of 60 SCQF credits or 30 ECTS credits of mathematics during your degree that have typically covered the following subjects/topics: calculus (differentiation and integration), linear algebra (vectors and multi-dimensional matrices), discrete mathematics and mathematical reasoning (e.g. induction and reasoning, graph theoretic models, proofs), and probability (concepts in discrete and continuous probabilities, Markov chains etc.).

Students from China

This degree is Band B.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

Regardless of your nationality or country of residence, you must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 7.0 with at least 6.5 in each component. We do not accept IELTS One Skill Retake to meet our English language requirements.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 100 with at least 23 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 185 with at least 176 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with passes in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 70 with at least 62 in each component.

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, Trinity ISE or PTE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries (non-MESC).

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than five years old* at the beginning of your programme of study. (*Revised 05 March 2024 to extend degree validity to five years.)

Find out more about our language requirements:


If you receive an offer of admission you will need to pay a deposit to secure your place.

  • £1,500 (this contributes towards your tuition fees)

Find out more about tuition fee deposits:

Tuition fees

School of Informatics scholarships

You can find funding opportunities, tuition fees and costs of living for prospective UK and international postgraduate students on the University website.

You are also encouraged to undertake your own research into the range of potential scholarships and other funding outside the University for which you may be eligible.

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • School of Informatics
  • 11 Crichton Street
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LE

Due to high demand on our programmes, the School of Informatics operates an application deadline of 31 March.

We will make a small number of offers to the most outstanding candidates on an ongoing basis, but will hold the majority of applications until the advertised deadline.

Decisions will be made as soon as possible once the deadline has passed. We expect to make the majority of decisions within eight weeks of the deadline.

The deadline may be extended if there are any places remaining on the programme.

Selection Deadlines

Programme start date Application Deadline Expected Decision date
09 September 31 March 31 May

(Revised 20 October 2023 to update the programme start date)

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • School of Informatics
  • 11 Crichton Street
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LE