Taught course

Forensic Information Technology

Institution
University of Portsmouth · Faculty of Technology
Qualifications
MSc

Entry requirements

A second-class honours degree in a relevant subject, including Computer Sciences, Legal or Social Sciences, or equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.0 with no component score below 5.5.

Months of entry

September

Course content

Why take this course?

Forensic information technology (FIT) is the scientific use or application of information technology (IT) in the generation and presentation of digital evidence to be used in courts, legal or other formal proceedings.

This course will enable you to develop your understanding and application of security issues and cybercrime for the purpose of forensic computing and investigation.

What will I experience?

On this course you can:

  • Learn how to investigate hacking, fraud and deception using a range of digital forensic tools
  • Practise identifying intruders' trails and suspected inappropriate use of internet applications in order to compile scientific evidence to prosecute
  • Manage a real-life computer engineering project using appropriate techniques for writing and reasoning about security policies

What opportunities might it lead to?

Many police investigations or civil disputes involve investigation of computer systems, mobile phones or other information devices, and there are an increasing number of UK companies that undertake investigations as consultants. You can expect to find career opportunities in such companies as well as in law enforcement and other services.

Accredited by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT for the purposes of fully meeting the further learning academic requirement for registration as a Chartered IT Professional (CITP). This course also partially meets the academic requirement for registration, either as a Chartered Scientist (CSci) or (on behalf of the Engineering Council) as a Chartered Engineer (CEng)*.

*On condition that the Master's Engineering Project is successfully completed.

Module Details

You will study four key topics which will collaboratively develop your knowledge and ability to carry out forensic IT investigations as well as an introduction on how to build protected specification software for data and other web applications. You will also get to build your own test system as part of your final project.

Here are the units you will study:

  • Computer Forensic Investigation and Cryptography: This unit covers the practical aspects of conducting a forensic investigation of digital evidence. In order for the students to develop a critical understanding of computer forensics, a holistic approach of the forensics investigation process is adopted, with a full investigation ‘life cycle’ from seizure of evidence through to giving evidence in court as an expert witness. We look at a range of tools, operating systems and devices. This unit also includes the main aspects of cryptography and steganalysis that are relevant for the discovery and recovery of hidden information.
  • Computer Security: The unit provides an introduction to computer security concepts and their practical application, in both closed and interconnected networks. Students are expected to both understand and be able to critically evaluate different approaches to securing complex computer systems.
  • Cybercrime Security and Risk Management: This unit provides opportunities for participants to develop skills and knowledge in the understanding of corporate cyber threats. Drawing upon a range of practical examples, students will examine how rapid technological development and expansion in access to the internet has impacted upon crime (e.g. how anonymity and unfounded trust encourage deception), mapping out the terrain of information technology, and identifying the emerging areas of cyber crime. Areas explored will include the crossing of established boundaries into spaces over which control has already been established such as cyber-intrusion and cyber-theft, but also 'new cyber crimes' in the form of virtual trespass, Denial of Service attacks, and the development of opportunities for offending in the context of social networking websites. The final section of the unit will examine how education and organisational responses can prevent victimisation and mitigate IT risk.
  • Master's Project: You will undertake either an engineering unit or a study project, during the summer period. The project offers students the opportunity to apply the taught material in the solution of a real-world problem directly related to their course. The engineering project usually involves building a piece of software to solve a problem. An example of the sort of thing you might do would be building a tool to address a specific forensics requirement. The study project usually involves undertaking a study of an IT domain relevant to forensics. To prepare for this the project includes a number of preparatory sessions, which contribute to part of your final mark. This part of the project enables students to acquire essential skills in research methods and communication, and to consider the professional issues related to their work.

Specialist optional units include:

  • Systems, Security and Data Analysis: The first part of the unit provides an overview of computer organisation, operating systems and network design, with a strong focus on security considerations and aspects relevant to computer and digital forensics. The early part of the unit will provide an introduction to relevant issues in system architecture and file system organisation. Threats to computer systems will be considered. The first half of the unit is concluded with studying in some depth current technologies for securing real computer networks. The second part of the unit deals with the important topic of data analytics. Many organisations are now rapidly accumulating large volumes of data that defy traditional methods of data analysis, and yet often have important relationships concealed within them. The emerging field of data mining combines techniques of machine learning, expert systems, databases and statistics to create a new generation of intelligent and automated tools, which are already being applied in many areas of business, science and government.
  • Advanced Programming Skills for the Web: This unit draws together a number of system development skills, focusing on how they can be applied to the development specifically of web applications. Topics covered include web programming, connecting databases to web applications, software tools, testing and security.

Programme Assessment

You will be taught through a combination of practical exercises, simulations, lectures, guest lectures and formative assessments, and will be expected to use a wide range of on and offline learning tools.

You will encounter a range of assessment styles depending on the content and nature of the unit topic. This can include written assignments, presentations as well as group and individual lab-based assessments. However, the most significant assessment element is the final dissertation, which reports and reflects on your final project.

Student Destinations

On completing this course, you will be equipped to seek employment in the following areas: IT auditing, information security, independent investigation, Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERT) and law enforcement agencies. Some of our previous graduates have been successful in finding employment within high-tech crime units, commercial investigation and national security bodies, while others go on to further research study at PhD level.

This course will also appeal to already practising professionals in related areas such as law enforcement, system administration, corporate security, IS auditing or security analysis and management for the commercial sector.

Qualification and course duration

MSc

part time
36 months
full time
12 months

Course contact details

Name
Admissions Team
Email
admissions@port.ac.uk
Phone
023 9284 5566