Information Security (MSc and PG Dip)


A world renowned programme; the first of its kind in the world

The Information Security course looks at both technical and management aspects of cyber security and teaches you about technologies including cryptography, computer security, fraud detection and digital forensics.

  • You will gain cyber security skills for senior level careers by focusing on principles and issues, and you will learn how information security can best be managed.
  • You will benefit from Royal Holloway’s wealth of research, expertise and practical consulting experience, which ensures that the degree is up to date and commercially relevant.
  • You can study most modules on a stand alone basis and earn CPE credits. Students come from a variety of backgrounds, ranging from new graduates through to senior security managers in blue chip enterprises seeking a formal qualification in Information Security. 

Course summary

  You study Study period Cost (2016-2017)
MSc 6 modules + project 2-5 years £14,980
Postgraduate Diploma 6 modules 1-5 years £11,552
Individual modules Single modules are ideal if you are keen to update your professional knowledge and enhance your career. In 2016-2017 the fee per module is £1,958.


The programme has been developed by academics within the Information Security Group (ISG) [external link] at Royal Holloway, University of London, one of the foremost academic security groups in the world.

Royal Holloway’s MSc in Information Security was one of just four UK university degree programmes to receive full certified status by GCHQ in 2014 as part of the UK strategy to certify good cyber security education in the UK. The certification applies to Royal Holloway’s campus-based and distance learning degrees.

The Communications Electronics Security Group (CESG) website states: ‘The successful degrees were judged to provide well-defined and appropriate content, delivered to the highest standard. Partnerships and a collaborative approach have been key throughout the process with the assessment of applicants based on the expert views of industry, academia, professional bodies, GCHQ and other government departments.’

For more information, please see the CESG website: uk/articles/gchq-certification- master-s-degrees-cyber-security 

The ISG is at the cutting edge of research into the design and evaluation of smart cards, electronic commerce, security management, mobile telecommunications security, and the integration of security techniques into specific applications. The ISG was awarded a Queen's Anniversary Prize in 1998 in recognition of it providing "a unique national resource for the training of information security specialists".

Information Security Group research

Read more about research activities in the white paper [external link, PDF: 6pgs, 2.68 Mb] by Jason Crampton, Director of Research, Royal Holloway.

Career progression

Graduates of the programme can be found in many organisations, ranging from large financial institutions to technology and research- oriented organisations, as well as security specialists. The MSc is also a foundation for further postgraduate research.

Continuing Professional Education (CPE)

You can study any of the compulsory core modules, plus the optional module 'Digital forensics', on a stand-alone basis and earn CPE credits. On successful completion of each module you will receive a University of London certificate.

Your time commitment

For individual modules, a reasonable expectation for study and exam preparation would be around 200 hours overall. For most students a reasonable expectation for completion of the programme in the 2 year minimum period would be to study 20 hours per week during the academic session (October–April). You have between two and five years to complete the MSc, and between one and five years to complete the Postgraduate Diploma. 

Excellent support

Fully supported by a Virtual Learning Environment, you will take part in online tutor-supported seminars and discussions; a virtual student cafe allows you to interact and network with other students.

Summary of key dates

Information Security
Application deadline 17 August
Registration deadline 31 August
Start studying Study materials are usually available from mid-August
Course starts 1 October
Examinations take place May

Induction module

You are strongly advised to look at the induction module for further details about learning materials and online support.

If you have any questions regarding the induction module, please email information security support. (Please note, this address is only for queries regarding the induction module).


Structure and syllabus

The Master's degree (MSc) comprises 6 modules and the project. 

The Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) comprises 6 modules. 

The compulsory core modules and the optional module, Digital forensics, can be taken as stand-alone individual modules. If you wish to register on this basis you should normally satisfy the entrance requirements for the MSc/PGDip. However, if you do not hold the qualifications specified in the entrance requirements, we will still consider your application; if you successfully complete two individual modules, we will consider you for entry to the PGDip or MSc degree programmes should you wish to progress to one of these awards.

If you have completed the PGDip or MSc you may also register on a stand-alone basis for any optional modules offered by the programme that you have not already taken. 

Study materials

How you study

The programme is offered online and is fully supported by a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). The VLE is like a virtual classroom that the University uses to deliver the content of the programme via the internet. 

You study at a time and pace that suits you (subject to some course-specific deadlines) using the study materials provided, with support available from academic staff.

Tutors are allocated to each module and are available to answer queries and promote discussion during the study year, through the online Virtual Learning Environment.

Once registered, you will be sent the learning materials for the module(s) you have chosen to study. The module materials will take you through a programme of directed self-study.

Study materials

When you register we will provide you with:

  • Study materials (including lessons, activities and assignments) for each module delivered through the VLE.
  • Core textbooks.
  • A Programme handbook that includes information about the learning resources, the procedures for assessment and examinations and advice on study skills.
  • A Student Guide that provides information which is common to all students and gives information about matters of importance from the start of a student’s relationship with the International Programmes through to their graduation.
  • Past examination papers and Examiners' commentaries which provide generic feedback from assessment.
  • A University of London email account and web area for personal information management.
  • Access  of to the online library where you can find The Sciences Good Study Guide and most of the course text books.
  • USB memory sticks can be provided (for students with poor or intermittent Internet connections).

Virtual Learning Environment

You will be given access to the Virtual Learning Environment when you register. The VLE will allow you to:

  • access your course materials
  • take part in discussions with your tutor and other students
  • receive notices, seminar dates, project support and other programme-related information
  • ask questions regarding the administration of the programme
  • seek help for technical problems that you encounter.

Time commitment

For individual modules, a reasonable expectation for study and exam preparation would be around 200 hours spread over the academic session (September-April). For most students a reasonable expectation for completion of the programme in the two year minimum study period would be to study approximately 24 hours per week during the academic session. To complete the degree in four years, which is typical for those students in full time employment, you will need to study about 12 hours per week over the academic session.

Induction Module

Students are strongly advised to look at the induction module for further details about learning materials and online support. If you have any questions regarding the induction module please email: information security support (Note: this is for queries regarding the induction module only).



The fees below refer to the 2016-2017 academic year only and are effective from 1 March 2016. Fees are subject to annual review. 

Registration fee£ 1,280
Fee per module (except the Project)£ 1,712
Project fee (MSc only)£ 3,428
Total MSc£ 14,980
Total Postgraduate Diploma£ 11,552
Total per Individual module (taken on a stand-alone basis)£ 1,958
ConvertGBP x 1

Disclaimer: the currency conversion tool is provided to you for convenience only and does not constitute an endorsement or approval by the University of London; the exchange rates are provided dynamically via a third-party source, consequently, the University of London International Programmes is not responsible for their accuracy.

When to pay

Fees may be paid in one of two ways:

Either, pay the total fee on registration by making a single payment. This covers the registration fee and all module fees;

Or, if you prefer to spread out your payments, pay the registration fee plus the fee for each module you want to take in the first year, and then in subsequent years pay the fee for each new module you take.

How to pay

All University fees must be paid in pounds sterling (GBP). The University accepts:

  • Western Union - Quick Pay
  • Credit/debit card (Visa, MasterCard, Maestro, Electron, JCB)
  • Sterling banker's draft/cheque
  • International money/postal order.

Further details are given in payment methods.

Other costs

In addition to the fees payable to the University, you should also budget for the fee charged by your local examination centre to cover its costs; this fee will vary.


The University reserves the right to amend previously announced fees, if necessary. For a full list fees that may be applicable, please see the fee schedule.



Each module, with the exception of Introduction to Cryptography and Security Mechanisms and the Project, is assessed by one two-hour written examination.

Introduction to Cryptography and Security Mechanisms is assessed by one two-hour written examination (75%) and by submission of coursework (25%). 

The Project is assessed by one two-hour written examination (20%) and by submission of a dissertation (80%).

Examinations take place on one occasion each year, normally in May. 

You do not have to come to London to take your examinations as we have examination centres around the world. Examinations are arranged mainly through Ministries of Education or the British Council. Your local examination centre will charge you a fee to cover its costs and this fee will vary from centre to centre.

For further information about taking examinations please see the assessment and examinations page of our website.


Academic Requirements

  • An undergraduate degree (e.g. bachelor) which is considered at least comparable to a UK second class honours degree, in a relevant discipline, from an institution acceptable to the University (a relevant discipline includes, but is not restricted to, computer science, electronics, information systems, and mathematics).
  • Applicants without a degree but with appropriate industrial experience will also be considered on an individual basis.

Language Requirements

A high level of competence in English is required. You will meet the English language requirement if, within the past three years, you have passed:

  • (IELTS) International English Language Testing System when an overall score of at least 6.5 is achieved with a minimum of 6 in each sub-test.
  • (TOEFL) iBT Test of English as a Foreign Language overall score of 92 or above with at least 22 in both Reading and Writing Skills sub-tests and at least 20 in both Speaking and Listening sub-tests.

Individual modules

Students applying to register for single modules on a stand-alone basis should normally satisfy the entrance requirements for the MSc/Postgraduate Diploma. However, if you do not hold such qualifications, the University will still consider your application. Upon successful completion of two individual modules, you will then be considered for entry to the Postgraduate Diploma or MSc degree programmes.

Computer Requirements

You must have regular access to a computer with an ISP connection to use the University of London International Programmes website and the Student Portal.  These are where your programme’s study resources are located. Through the Student Portal you can register as a student, enter exams and use your programme’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). The VLE provides you with electronic learning materials, access to the University of London Online Library, networking opportunities, and other resources. 

To get the most from your studies, you will need a recent laptop or desktop machine with speakers and at least the following minimum specification: 

  • a web browser (the latest version of Firefox, Chrome or Internet Explorer). This must accept cookies and have JavaScript enabled
  • screen resolution of 1024 x 768 or greater
  • an Internet connection, preferably broadband, and sufficient bandwidth to download documents of at least 2 MB

and the following applications installed:

  • a recent version of Microsoft Office or any compatible product such as Open Office (Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Access)
  • Flash Plug-in: Adobe Flash Player (download latest version free from
  • Real Player: RealOne Player (Basic) (download latest version free from
  • Adobe, or other pdf reader (download latest version free from
Academic leaders

Academic leaders: Royal Holloway

Founded in 1885, Royal Holloway is one of the six largest Colleges of the University of London and is home to the Information Security Group (ISG), one of the largest academic security groups in the world.

The ISG brings together expertise in education, research and practice in the field of Information Security. It offers world-leading Masters and Postgraduate Diploma programmes (campus-based and online). The ISG also includes the Smart Card Centre of Excellence which it founded with Vodafone and Giesecke & Devrient. In recognition of its work, the ISG received a prestigious Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education. The Prize Citation was as follows:

"This pioneering Group provides a unique national resource for the training of information security specialists and the development of highly secure communications and computer systems. It offers world-leading independent expertise in a field of national importance where trust and integrity are paramount."
Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education

Academic leaders

Professor Fred Piper

Director of External Relations, Information Security Group

Professor Fred Piper was appointed Professor of Mathematics at the University of London in 1975 and has worked in information security since 1979. In 1985, he formed a company, Codes & Ciphers Ltd, which offers consultancy advice in all aspects of information security. He has acted as a consultant to over 80 companies including a number of financial institutions and major industrial companies in the UK, Europe, Asia, Australia, South Africa and the USA.

The consultancy work has been varied and has included algorithm design and analysis, work on EFTPOS and ATM networks, data systems, security audits, risk analysis and the formulation of security policies. He has lectured worldwide on information security, both academically and commercially, has published more than 100 papers and is joint author of Cipher Systems (1982), one of the first books to be published on the subject of protection of communications, Secure Speech Communications (1985), Digital Signatures - Security & Controls (1999) and Cryptography: A Very Short Introduction (2002).

Fred has been a member of a number of DTI advisory groups. He has also served on a number of Foresight Crime Prevention Panels and task forces concerned with fraud control, security and privacy. He is currently a member of the Board of Trustees for Bletchley Park and the Board of the Institute of Information Security professionals. He is also a member of (ISC)2's European Advisory Board, the steering group of the DTI's Cyber Security KTN, ISSA's advisory panel and the BCS's Information Security Forum.

In 2002, he was awarded an IMA Gold Medal for "services to mathematics" and received an honorary CISSP for "leadership in Information Security". In 2003, Fred received an honorary CISM for "globally recognised leadership" and "contribution to the Information Security Profession".

In 2005 he was elected to the ISSA Hall of Fame. He was named Professional of the Year at the Communications in Business Awards 2005. In 2008 he was elected to be a Fellow of (ISC)2. In 2008 he was the first person to be elected to the InfoSecurity Europe Hall of Fame. In 2008 he was elected to the International Advisory Board of IMPACT (the International Multilateral Programme Against Cyber Threats).

Apply online

Facebook logo Join Royal Holloway on Facebook and contribute to the debates on Information Security.

View the Information Security Handbook for related information about procedures, deadlines and instructions.

Contact an alumni ambassador:

Keith Vella Licari
Keith Vella Licari, Alumni Ambassador
Keith Vella Licari completed an MSc in Information Security in 2013 and a BSc in Computing and Information Systems in...

MOOC: Malicious Software and the Underground Economy

On Coursera - Lorenzo Cavallero (ISG, Royal Holloway) introduces traditional and mobile malware, and its underground economy.

Academic Inspiration: MSc Information Security

How well are companies prepared to fight the ever growing threat of cybercrime?