Data Networks and Security - MSc

Full Time, Part Time
September 2016
£6,500 for UK/EU Full Time 2016 entry (view all fees)

Our PGCert/PGDip/MSc data networks and security programme gives you the academic and practical skills you’ll need to pursue a high-level career in the specialist area of network management and security.

It is designed for technology graduates who have some prior knowledge of computing and/or networking but we’ll also hold an induction programme for graduates of other disciplines and for experienced network technologists who wish to update their skills.

You will need to hold a minimum Second Class Honours degree or equivalent in an appropriate discipline. However, if you have the necessary knowledge and skills to successfully complete the course, we will consider your application without standard entry qualifications.

What's covered in the course?

This programme is linked to the Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) curriculum, which means you can work towards this internationally recognised qualification alongside your degree studies.

As well as providing you with a strong theoretical foundation, you’ll find this course also emphasises practical applications and these are supported by the Faculty’s extensive and dedicated Masters laboratory, which has industry-standard devices, hardware and software that will enable you to equip, build, design and secure large data communication networks.

In the first term, you will study professional skills and research methods, information security: threats and defences, network security, and design of scalable networks. You’ll go on in the second term to focus on management and optimisation of network systems, advanced network security, and advanced networking systems.

Your third term will be spent on an in-depth academic Masters project.

You’ll also benefit from our strong industry links, which enable us to keep our courses relevant and up-to-date that will help you to stand out from the crowd when you look to enter the workplace.

We’re based at Millennium Point, part of our City Centre Campus, which is fully equipped with state-of-the-art, industry-standard labs.

Throughout your course, you will be supported by a team of expert teaching staff who have strong research backgrounds, as well as extensive experience in industry.

Why Choose Us?

  • We are recognised nationally and internationally for our high quality teaching, research and extensive industry partnerships.
  • We’ve designed this course with a Cisco-specific curriculum, enabling you to work towards Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) and Network Security certifications, as part of your postgraduate studies.
  • We are home to a Cisco Systems and the Microsoft Academy Centre – one of Microsoft’s top UK university-based academies – and we are a member of the Microsoft Developer Network Academic Alliance. We are also a Cisco ASC (Academy Support Centre) and Cisco Instructor Training Centre (ITC) – one of only 10 such instructor training centres in the UK.
  • You’ll have access to state-of-the-art, industry-standard equipment and laboratories.
  • You’ll be equipped with the academic knowledge and practical skills that are demanded by industries and employers.
  • We have strong links with Samsung, Intel, Cisco Systems, Cisco, Meraki, CapGemini, BBC and NEC.
Visit our open day

Postgraduate Open Day

Our next Postgraduate Open Day will be on Wednesday 23 November, between 2pm and 7pm. Come along to find out more about our courses and see our facilities.

Register now

This course is open to International students

School of Computing and Digital Technology

Discover the School of Computing and Digital Technology

Visit our School site for more student work and extra information.

Visit the School website

Where our students go

Our students have gone on to work with companies such as:

  • Huawei
  • JBC Computer LTD

And in jobs such as:

  • GNOC Front Office Engineer
  • IT Support

New £10,000 postgraduate loans

You may be able to take advantage of the government’s plans to make loans of up to £10,000 available for postgraduate study.

More about postgraduate loans

Entry Requirements

UK students

You will normally be expected to hold at least a Second Class Honours degree or equivalent in an appropriate discipline.

You will also be considered for entry if you do not have the standard entry qualifications, but can provide evidence of necessary knowledge and skills to successfully enter and complete the course.

UK or EU students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
MSc Sep 2016 FT 1 Year £6,500
PT 29 months £3,250 per year

If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our PDF application form instead.

International Students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
MSc Sep 2016 FT 1 Year £12,000

If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our PDF application form instead.

The University reserves the right to increase fees broadly in line with increases in inflation, or to reflect changes in government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament.

Additional costs

There are no compulsory additional costs or charges associated with studying on this course. While you may choose to purchase personal copies of text books, all our key text books are available from our library or online (subject to normal library loan and online access arrangements). If your course includes a residential study session, the accommodation costs for this are already included in your course fee.

Based on the past experience of our students, you might find it helpful to set aside about £50 for each year of your studies for stationery and study materials. All our students are provided with 100 free pages of printing each year to a maximum total value of £15.

Your personal statement

Your personal statement is a highly important part of your application. It gives you a crucial opportunity to say why you’re applying and why the institution should accept you.

Here are the key areas you’ll need to address:

Course choice

Why does this course appeal? What areas are of particular interest?

Career plans

If you have a specific career in mind, say how your chosen course will help you pursue this goal.

Work experience

Mention any work that is relevant to your subject, highlighting the skills and experience gained.

School or college experience

Highlight skills gained at school/college, eg summer schools or mentoring activities.

Non-accredited skills or achievement

eg Duke of Edinburgh Award, Young Enterprise scheme.

You should also mention your future plans – if you’re planning to take a year out, don't forget to give your reasons. Talk about any subjects you’re studying that don’t have a formal assessment and any sponsorships or placements you’ve applied for. And don't be scared to add in details about your social, sports or leisure interests.

Get more information on writing personal statements.

This course is available part-time

Got any questions?

Search our Frequently Asked Questions for a range of information about our courses and studying here.

Financial Support

We offer further information on possible postgraduate financial support. This includes the type of loans, grants and scholarships available both from the government and from Birmingham City University.

Did you know that you will soon be able to apply for a postgraduate loan of up to £10,000 for some courses and options?

Postgraduate loans

Stage 1: Postgraduate Certificate

Professional Skills and Research Methods
15 credits

You’ll be introduced to research methods, academic writing and project management that will help you to complete your Master's project. This module also covers professional skills, including consultancy.

Information Security: Threats and Defences
15 credits

This module has been designed to provide the necessary theoretical framework, foundations and practical support for effectively pursuing security solutions with respect to data / information, processing and procedures, networks, communications and physical security.

This is underpinned by providing an understanding of cryptography and formal security models and their respective roles in realising security solutions. Topics to include cryptography theory, security attacks, network security, systems and security administration, security systems design, financial security procedures and more.

Network Security
15 credits

Network security is an increasing concern for businesses throughout the world. This module will look at the theoretical and practical aspects of securing a data network.

Design of Scalable Networking Systems
15 credits

Scalable design is crucial in modern day networks and this module will help you to gain a comprehensive understanding of routing and switching theory and its practical implementation. You’ll also practise optimisation and redundancy techniques.

Stage 2: Postgraduate Diploma

Management and Optimisation of Network Systems
30 credits

You’ll look at the management and traffic engineering techniques, and tools required to optimise converged networks.

Advanced Network Security
15 credits

You’ll develop a more specialised knowledge of security measures that are needed to secure large enterprise networks. You’ll study: firewall design using IOS (Internet Operating System) and appliance based systems (ASAs), the design and implementation of AAA (Authentication Authorisation and Accounting) and intrusion detection/prevention systems.

Advanced Networking Systems
15 credits

Stage 3: Masters

Masters Project
60 credits

You will join the course in  September and you can study on either a full-time or part-time basis, which will take one year or 29 months respectively.

The course is divided into taught modules of 15 and 30 credits and a Masters project of 60 credits. You’ll complete 60 credits for Postgraduate Certificate, 120 credits for Postgraduate Diploma and 180 credits for MSc. Each credit represents 10 notional hours of student learning and assessment.

We think it’s important that you are assessed in a number of different ways during your course.

You’ll be assessed on each module through a combination of coursework, examinations, presentations, practical assignments, vivas, online activities and project work. Emphasis is placed on the development of a broad range of relevant skills because this will enable us to appraise your all-round ability and it also gives you the best opportunity to excel.

Assessment methods

Emphasis is placed upon the development of a broad range of relevant skills. Assessment methods will vary according to the particular knowledge skills being assessed.

Assessment is through a combination of:

  • coursework
  • examinations
  • presentations
  • practical assignments
  • vivas
  • online activities
  • project work.

Student stories – Michael Goodwin

Security engineer Michael Goodwin was so impressed with his undergraduate experience, he decided to come back for his MSc.

He especially enjoyed working with knowledgeable and experienced staff and using industry-standard equipment, that he uses everyday.

“It helped having this hands-on experience, and not just being taught theory in a classroom,” he says.

Further Study

We offer a range of PhD postgraduate programmes in the area of network security and software defined networks that are suitable for Master’s graduates. Details can be found on the postgraduate section of the website.

Trips and visits

You will have the opportunity to visit Bletchley Park, the home of computing, as part of your studies.

Amrik SinghStudent stories – Amrik Singh

As a network consulting engineer for technology giant Cisco with five years’ study at Birmingham City University behind him, Amrik Singh believes he chose the best place to study computer networking.

Amrik Singh was awarded our Undergraduate Computer Networking Award for outstanding achievement, he also picked up the Postgraduate Prize for his MSc. Amazingly, he even found time to play on the University cricket team too!

While studying at Masters level, Amrik was offered an 11-month internship with Cisco. Clearly, he impressed – as Cisco then offered him an Associate Network Consulting Engineer role.

Enhancing your employability skills

There is a global shortage of highly qualified networkers and programmers who can work as advanced level network engineers and designers.

Our course is designed to give you the first-class, first-hand practical expertise you need, plus the rigorous academic understanding required to secure employment in a high level role.

It means our graduates are very highly sought after because our postgraduate data security and networks postgraduate will provide you with the skills that are hugely in demand by industry on a global scale.

The course also develops a wide spectrum of transferable skills to take into a general business career.

You will be equipped for a range of careers requiring high level skills in data security, including network management, managing large ISP networks, designing network security programmes, and implementation of large data communications systems, that both SMEs and large communications industries need.


OpportUNIty Student Ambassador

OpportUNIty: Student Jobs on Campus ensures that our students are given a first opportunity to fill many part-time temporary positions within the University. This allows you to work while you study with us, fitting the job around your course commitments. By taking part in the scheme, you will gain valuable experiences and employability skills, enhancing your prospects in the job market.

It will also allow you to become more involved in University life by delivering, leading and supporting many aspects of the learning experience, from administration to research and mentoring roles.

Graduate jobs

Our graduates are very highly sought after because there is a global shortage of high quality network programmers who have the ideal combination of academic and practical skills.

Our graduates have typically found careers as large data network programmers, and network engineers and designers for companies such as:

  • BBC
  • CapGemini
  • Accenture
  • Cisco Systems
  • Cisco Meraki
  • Nigerian Telecoms
  • Tellabs.

International Students

Birmingham City University is a vibrant and multicultural university in the heart of a modern and diverse city. We welcome many international students every year – there are currently students from more than 80 countries among our student community.

The University is conveniently placed, with Birmingham International Airport nearby and first-rate transport connections to London and the rest of the UK.

Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:

Students are attracted by our strong industry links and the unique combination of high-quality practice-based learning with a strong and challenging academic curriculum that equips them with the relevant skills that employers are looking for.

Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC)

International students who have a serious interest in studying with us but who perhaps cannot meet the direct entry requirements, academic or English, or who have been out of education for some time, can enter Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC) and begin their degree studies.


BCUIC is part of the global Navitas Group, an internationally recognised education provider, and the partnership allows students to access the University’s facilities and services and move seamlessly through to achieving a Bachelor’s degree from Birmingham City University.

Learn more about BCUIC

Popular home countries

Our students come from around the world but our data networks and security course is most popular with international students from:

Our Facilities

We are constantly investing in our estate and are currently in the process of spending £260 million on new learning facilities. This course will be taught at Millennium Point at the City Centre Campus.

As a student at the School of Computing and Digital Technology, you have access to networked laboratories equipped to industry standards and running the latest software, giving you the best possible introduction to the technologies you will encounter in the world of work.

Dedicated facilities are provided for systems analysis, computer networks, programming in a wide range of languages, artificial intelligence, modelling and visual programming, e-commerce and .net environments, and business intelligence, as well as supporting the application areas of mechatronics, games technology, electronics and computer forensics.

Computer networking

The laboratories are well-equipped for all our computer networking courses, as well as specialist areas for practical work such as voice-over internet protocol (VoIP), forensic and ethical hacking technologies, wireless and mobile technologies and radio frequency identification technologies to name but a few.

Software development and computer programming

There are a number of open access, software development and computer programming
laboratories that can be used to develop systems and programmes, including database management systems such as MySQL, to name but a few.

Systems laboratories

Our embedded systems laboratories are used to develop real-time systems, such as specialist hardware training and development resources, and industrial-standard software development and simulation tools. These include microcontroller software and robotics design and development, to name but a few.

Electronic Systems

Electronic systems

To underpin the basic principles of electronic systems, we have a well-equipped laboratory of general and specialist test and measurement kits, including powered prototyping development boards, dual power supplies, frequency generators and counters and digital multi-meters to name but a few.


Students on SAP-certified courses in Enterprise Systems will have access to the University’s unique SAP Lab, providing an inspirational research and development space for you to use for creative thinking and design.

Forensic computing

Our successful development of forensic computing has led to a specialist forensics laboratory that is fully equipped with essential hardware and software for this sensitive area of study. The laboratory includes high-spec PC’s with built-in multi interface Tableau write blockers, EnCase and FTK computer forensic software and steganography detection and analysis software, to name but a few.

More on our facilities

Ron Austin

Associate Professor

Senior lecturer Ron Austin is course leader on the MSc Data Networks and Security course and teaches all network-related courses.

His expertise and areas of interest include: Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP), security technologies, and forensic and ethical hacking.

Prior to joining Birmingham City University, Ron spent 17 years in network management systems for companies including Telewest and Cable & Wireless. 

Mak Sharma

Head of School

Mak is internationally recognised for his expertise in the use of Cisco, Microsoft and Oracle resources, and embedding these into various qualifications. He has worked with a number of organisations to provide a set of problembased learning programmes. He participates in teaching, training and managing student projects across the Networking field.

Michael Clarke

Senior Lecturer

Michael has 20 years' industrial experience with Lucas Aerospace Lt and British Telecom.

Dr Esther Palomar

Reader in Computing

Esther Palomar is a reader in computing and is involved in research in the fields of information assurance and security and privacy issues.

She has worked as a computer forensic auditor for a large accounting firm and her areas of expertise are: cyber security, information assurance, forensics, applied AI, and economic approaches. 

UK prospective students:

UK enquiry form

+44 (0)121 331 5595

EU / International prospective students:

International enquiry form

+44 (0)121 331 5389

Already applied?

Email the applications team

+44 (0)121 331 6295