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BSc (Hons)

Computer Forensics and Security 2014 entry

School of Computing, Mathematics & Digital Technology

This degree focuses on the four key elements of forensic computing: file-based forensics, internet-based forensics, network-based forensics and the legal and ethical issues involved in any digital investigation.

You will gain a broad understanding of the phases of a forensic investigation and of computing in general. Extensive group work is used to develop your ability to think logically and use your initiative to critically analyse problems in the forensic domain. Typical areas of study include programming, multimedia and internet development, information systems and databases, computer hardware and fundamentals, computing mathematics, computer networks and operating systems.

Year of entry 2014

Length 3 years full-time · 4 years sandwich

UCAS code(s) G551

Fees UK and EU full-time students: £8,000 · Non-EU full-time international students: £11,000

You can work for a year in industry as part of your degree to gain valuable work experience (Sandwich Year)

International fee band 2 · More information

Location All Saints Campus, Manchester

Department School of Computing, Mathematics & Digital Technology

This is the first year this course has been offered.

"I absolutely loved the course and got a lot out of it from the very start. I had fantastic support from my tutor who gave me the confidence to write a conference paper which was accepted for international publication, and which in turn helped me secure employment in forensic computing."

Zeki Turedi, BSc (Hons) Computer Forensics and Security, 2012

Features & benefits of the course

  • The course gives you the opportunity to specialise in the fascinating and fast-growing field of forensic computing.
  • The degree is accredited by the British Computing Society, the chartered professional body for IT. Successful completion allows you to gain Chartered IT Professional status and become a graduate member of the BCS.
  • We have state-of-the-art computing laboratories and facilities, including dedicated Appled Mac suites, with specialist, industry-standard software; a purpose-built multimedia studio with HD cameras, vision mixing and full recording kit; and a computer usability lab which captures and analyses human behaviour as we interact with computers, websites, gadgets and video games.
  • You will study a curriculum designed in conjunction with industry to equip you with the range of skills and strengths that employers demand.
  • The four year sandwich route gives you the opportunity to spend your third year on industrial placement boosting your employment prospects on graduation.
  • You will experience what it's like to work as part of a professional team finding solutions to complex problems via group projects. You can also get involved with extracurricular work to further apply your skills, for example, gaming events and the student computing society.
  • This degree course is part of a network of computing degrees which share a common first year allowing you to transfer between courses after Year 1, as you develop your areas of interest.

Placement options

The full-time four year sandwich route provides the opportunity to spend your third year on placement in industry. The School offers help with finding suitable placements and experience has shown that taking a placement year can lead to improved performance in the final year of your degree as well as improved employment prospects after graduation.

About the course

This course can be studied in part-time mode with a degree of flexibility in the pattern and course length. Please contact us for further details of part-time study.

Units you will study

  • Year 1

    In Year 1 you will study a core set of skills common to all of our computing courses which includes programming, multimedia and internet development, information systems and databases, computer hardware and fundamentals, and some related computing mathematics.

    • Core Units
      Computer Systems Fundamentals

      This unit provides an introduction to the fundamental principles and mathematics underpinning the design and construction of Computer Systems. 

      Digital Logic and Boolean Algebra(25%): Digital Logic Gates and Circuits; Karnaugh maps; Use of a digital logic circuit simulator; Components of a CPU; Processor Model; Fetch execute cycle; hardware interrupts. Assembly Language Programming (25%): Relationship between high level Languages and Assembler; Instruction sets; Registers; Debugging; Discrete Mathematics(50%): Matrices and Vectors; Matrices as linear transforms; Functions: definition  properties; Sets: subsets  set algebra  ; Logic: Propositions  Predicates  propositional algebra  proof of simple results;

      Information Systems

      An introduction to the use of IS in organisations  giving students an opportunity to develop key systems analysis techniques to be applied to development of IS built on a commercial RDBMS. Students will also develop essential communication skills.

      Business activities supported by IS: case studies & examples  e-Commerce  management information (30%). Systems analysis and design techniques: use cases  DFDs  UML (30%). Database management systems and database design: ERDs  Normalisation SQL (30%). Communication and teamwork skills (10%).

      Programming (Java)

      This unit introduces computer programming in a high level programming language and includes principles and practice in problem solving program design solution implementation and testing.
      Software life cycle (5%): Importance of correctly identifying the problem; iterative nature of software development; software maintenance. Design methodology (15%): The application of the top-down design method using step-wise refinement to produce pseudo-code solutions to problems incorporating constructs for sequence selection iteration and abstraction. Verification and testing (10%): The use of desk-top execution; simple debugging strategies and more formal approaches to testing e.g. black box white box boundary analysis and equivalence classes. Documentation and standards (5%): The purpose and form of documentation; the application of standards and conventions to programs and their design. Constructs and features of a structured high level programming language (35%): Control constructs operators procedural abstraction simple I/O and use of libraries e.g. Applets. Data types: primitive types (25%): Constants; variables arrays and simple structured data introduction to object orientation. Software support environment (5%): Use of an IDE editors compiler/linkers and operating system.

      Web & Multimedia

      The unit provides an introduction to key concepts and techniques for creating and deploying multimedia and web-based content.
      Web (50%) Overview of Internet hardware & software. Client-side web site creation & maintenance. Web authoring packages. Web Standards. Introduction to server-side scripting. Multimedia (50%) Scope and purpose of multimedia. Bitmap principles, compression and transformation. Sound and moving images

  • Year 2

    In Year 2 you will deepen your knowledge of computer networks and operating systems, and study specialist material on file-based and internet-based forensics. Additionally, a mini dissertation will be undertaken related to forensic computing.

    • Core Units
      Computer Networks & Operating Systems

      The unit provides an introduction to the operation of computer networks operating systems theory and practice.
      Indicative Content : 1. Concurrency [20%]: the solutions to and the problems of concurrency:-- race conditions livelock deadlock starvation and priority inversion. The use of semaphores and/or monitors in solving classical problems such as: i) the bounded buffer and ii) multiple readers and writers. 2. Computer Networks [30%]: network components: repeaters hubs switches routers gateways; protocol stacks: OSI TCP/IP; basic network performance characteristics. 3. Process management [15%]: Processes and threads performance benefits of multiprogramming scheduling algorithms two-level schedulers. 4. Input/Output [10%]: Principles of I/O hardware; devices and controllers; principles of I/O software: device drivers device interrupt handlers device independent software. 5. Memory Management [15%]: evolution of physical and virtual memory management algorithms and computer architecture for memory management. 6. File Systems [10%]: structure and organisation of the file system. Disk space storage allocation using contiguous linked indexed and inode based schemes.

      Forensic Evidence & Analysis

      The unit provides content to enable an understanding of the theory and practice of computer forensics.
      It covers: 1. Forensic Process (10%): Types of investigations, role of investigator, processes, toolkits, legal aspects. 2. Forensic Response (15%): Collecting volatile data, MACtimes, login data, open ports, running processor, current/recent connections, reviewing event logs and registry data, obtaining system passwords, dumping system RAM, forensic duplication. 3. File System Analysis (25%): Data acquisition,volume analysis, journaling, write blockers, signatures, locating and restoring deleted content 4. Memory (20%): Capturing memory, memory contents identification, flash memory devices, data persistence. 5. Information Hiding & Malware Analysis (30%): Scanning/evaluating data streams, steganography, slack space, host protected area, static and dynamic analysis, post-mortem analysis, program confinement, rootkits.

      Professional Development

      The unit covers the related areas of professional and legal issues and professional and career development and includes a pathway specific group project.
      The unit covers: The current legal framework of computing e.g. data protection legislation, intellectual property rights, e-waste recycling law, computer misuse, freedom of information, computer contracts and employment contracts. Overview and comparison of workable ethical theories e.g. utilitarianism and duty based approaches. (25%) Professional bodies in Computing , role, structures, codes of conduct and practice. Employment application process and continuing professional development. (5%) Themed case study mini-project linked to subject pathway which may include the following elements: project planning and control concepts , planning techniques (e.g. Gantt / PERT charts) and monitoring; individual reflective diary/log book; academic research; software prototype and project report (70%)

    • Option Units
      Advanced Programming

      This unit covers concepts relating to object-oriented program design (e.g. objects, classes, inheritance, abstraction) and the use of libraries for developing graphical user interfaces. The unit examines application development using a modern IDE.
      The unit covers:Object-Oriented Concepts [35%]: Introduction to object-oriented concepts including; class, object, instantiation, attributes, constructor, methods, overloading, inheritance, overriding, polymorphism, design techniques using UML. Testing of object-oriented programs. Advanced Topics [35 %]: Interfaces, inner classes, collections, exception handling, stream based file input/output, building a Graphical User Interface (GUI) using libraries, event handling, graphics and threads. Implementation [30%]: Practical application and implementation of concepts studied above. Use of Integrated Development Environment (IDE). Implementation of a UML diagram. Documentation and coding standards. Case studies.

      Algorithms & Data Structures

      Advanced Programming and Development techniques focussed on the data structures and algorithms that underpin Computer Science.
      Indicative Content : Key themes (weightings are indicative) 1. Static data structures: implementation and use [5%] 2. Problem decomposition Module abstraction [10%] 3. Dynamic data structures: pointers linked lists graphs and trees. [30%] 4. Object Oriented: design implementation and use. [10%] 5. Application Implementation and Component Reuse [10%] 6. Algorithms: sorting searching and graph traversal. [25%] 7. Basic complexity issues: time and space complexity. [5%] 8. Software Development Techniques [5%]

      Web and Mobile Development

      You will investigate architectures, platforms and techniques that will enable them to build data driven server side and mobile applications

  • Year 3

    If you opt for the four year sandwich route your third year will be spent on placement.

    In Year 3 (or Year 4 of the sandwich route) you will complete a large independent project which will allow you to pursue personal research interests and to apply your knowledge to a realistic application. You will also study network-based forensics, information and network security and choose further units which enable you to match your studies to your interest.

    • Core Units
      Information & Network Security

      This unit will cover a diverse set of topics related to information and network security with emphasis on cryptographic methods and security protocols.
      It covers: 1. Overview of Security (10%) - The need for security; types of security (Confidentiality, integrity, availability, access-control, authentication and non-repudiation); Threats; Security mechanisms and security services.
      2. Cryptography (40%) - Symmetric and asymmetric encryption; Block and stream ciphers; Encryption algorithms: DES, RSA, AES, etc.; Attacks on conventional and public key cryptography; Integrity (Hash functions and message authentication codes).
      3. Access Control (30%) - Goals of protocols (Authentication and Authorisation; Key distribution and confirmation); Zero knowledge proofs; Fiat-Shamir protocol; PKI; Digital certificates; Mediated authentication (Needham-Schroeder protocol); Otway-Rees protocol; Access control lists and capabilities; Multilevel Security; Multilateral Security; Covert channels; Kerberos.
      4. Internet security protocols and Firewalls (20%) - Secure application protocols (SSL/TLS, IPSec: IKE); Components of a firewall, functions, and configurations; Intrusion detection (signature based IDS, anomaly based). Sensor networks;

      Network and Internet Forensics

      The unit builds on forensic evidence and analysis and provides content on network forensics, internet forensics and latest developments in the area.

      Indicative Content :  1. Network Traffic Monitoring & Analysis (50%): Sniffers, events, trap and trace, full content, session data, reassembling sessions, filters, router investigation, routing tables, access control lists, monitoring and network intrusion detection. 2. Internet Forensics (30%): Internet threats, addresses and domain names, email structure and routing, URL obfuscation, HTTP transactions, log analysis, browser history, cookie storage, temporary files. 3. Recent Developments (20%): Latest developments in the field. Topics such as anti-forensics, anti-forensic countermeasures etc.

      Project

      Provides experience in the critical review of literature and the design, implementation, evaluation, and writing up of a non-trivial product.
      Students normally select project choices from a list of project descriptions produced by academics; the project co-ordinator (Tutor) allocates a suitable supervisor and a project description to a student, informed by their choices. A student must develop their project description, which tend to be generic and indicative in content, into a Terms of Reference (ToR), by specifying aims, objectives, methodology, and timetable for completion, among others. This must be ratified by their supervisor. The final year project taken by a student is normally pathway-specific and, therefore, the aims and objectives agreed within the ToR should broadly demonstrate alignment with the aims and learning outcomes that apply to the studied pathway. This is normally expressed as one or two pathway-specific aims and objectives identified in the ToR. The pathway(s) for which a project is suitable will be indicated in each project description to aid student choice. Where the project is a group project, the group's and each individual's aims, objectives and plan in the ToR will be made distinct. Where there are specific requirements for the project on a pathway, students will be given a framework of points of reference to address in their ToR such as on Software Engineering.

    • Option Units
      Artificial Intelligence

      The aim of this unit is to develop your knowledge of the underlying theory and practical applications of various Artificial Intelligence paradigms.

      Enterprise Programming

      You will build secure, robust, maintainable enterprise level applications using a variety of current distributed programming techniques.
      The unit covers: Design Patterns (25%) - Use of common design patterns and implementation in a suitable language. Professional programming techniques. Distributed Programming (25%) - Creation and analysis of distributed applications in a high level language Web Service Architectures (25%) - Web services, WSDL, SOAP, XML Procesing Current Techniques in Enterprise Application Development (25%) eg Cloud Computing, Ajax

      Human Computer Interaction

      This unit covers the  design and evaluation of user interfaces and interactive systems and their contexts of use. It alos covers Human vision, memory & thinking. Psychology and the design of interactive systems (20%). Cognitive factors and interface design. Designing for diversity. Interaction design. Usability, heuristics & usability evaluation. Prototyping (50%). Mental and conceptual models. Soft systems methodology (15%). Dialog design. Universal design. Groupware and Computer Support for Cooperative Work (15%).

      Mobile Applications Development

      This unit provides a thorough grounding in smartphone application development, location aware applications and mobile device technologies.

As part of our drive to deliver the very highest quality programmes we are reviewing our undergraduate courses to ensure an up-to-date curriculum supported by the latest online learning technology. Some of the details given here may not yet reflect these improvements and information will be updated as it becomes available.

Assessment details

You will be assessed by examinations and continuous assessment including laboratory reports, poster presentations, oral presentations and on-line assessments, together with a final year project.

Career options after the course

A degree in computing will prepare you for a wide range of careers in a fast-growing industry.

Jobs in computing include systems manager, web designer and programmer, as well as roles managing technology to support a range of public and private sector organisations.

In addition, the skills you learn on this degree are highly valued by a range of employers and opportunities may exist in areas such as accountancy, management, technical sales and teaching.

Manchester is a major hub for the digital media industry.

The close proximity of MediaCity and local initiatives such as the 100bps Oxford Road "Corridor" broadband project, are attracting key players in the digital media sector along with smaller web design and new media agencies to the city.

Typical entry requirements

UCAS Tariff points/Grades required

240-280

Minimum of 240  at A2 or acceptable alternatives (such as BTEC National Extended Diploma level 3 at Merit, Merit, Merit or Advanced Diploma). 

Specific GCSE requirements

GCSE English languagr grade C (or acceptable alternative eg  Functional skills).  GCSE grade C Mathematics .

Non Tariffed Qualifications

A relevant Access to HE Diploma considered.  30 Level 3 credits at Merit grade required.

International Baccalaureate points

28

IELTS score required for international students

IELTS 6.0 with not less than 5.5 in any element.

There’s further information for international students on our international website if you’re applying with non-UK qualifications.

KIS data