Data Networks and Security - MSc *

Full Time, Part Time
September 2019
£7,100 per year for UK/EU Full Time 2019 entry (view all fees)

Our MSc Data Networks and Security course will provide opportunities for you to engage in the design and implementation of secured and optimized communication network solutions, including SDN (Software Defined Networks and wireless technologies.

This will be achieved by industry-led, research-informed, practice-based teaching and learning.  Using industry-standard resources, you will apply the skills and knowledge gained to real-life project scenarios across industry, commerce and public sector. 

The programme of study will include areas such as requirements capture, network design, evaluation, securing and optimisation, ranging from hardware configuration to protocol analysis and software definition. The programme will include research and scholarly activity in order to incorporate the latest thinking into the proposed solution.

What's covered in the course?

On this course, you will learn to:

  • Critically evaluate and apply knowledge of advanced routing principles.
  • Evaluate and apply advanced routing protocols for specific networking solutions.
  • Evaluate a variety of routing techniques for a given network environment.
  • Critically evaluate routing policy requirements for a network.
  • Design and implement ethernet-based LANs. Ensuring security within the given environment.
  • Apply mathematical analysis to use VLSM efficiently.
  • Apply security considerations to the design and management of networks.
  • Design/plan and implement LAN/WAN solutions which require switched hybrid.
  • Critically assess SDN solutions in both the industry and research domains.
  • Design an SDN-based network for a given system, identifying appropriate components and network structure.
  • Implement an appropriate SDN controller to manage device configuration, and any other relevant network policies within an SDN network.
  • Select, plan and implement an appropriate testing strategy to validate security requirements against a threat model.
  • Critically evaluate the requirements for penetration testing, ethical hacking and effectively communicate security audit results to a variety of audiences.
  • Design and conduct security assessment experiments to expose security vulnerabilities and to interpret, analyse and critically evaluate the resulting data to recommend remedial actions.
  • Critically appraise the role of security testing within the wider context of continuous security improvements to the information assurance processes within the organisation.

Why Choose Us?

  • The Centre for Cloud Computing houses the Cisco Networking Academy, which has an international reputation for delivering high-quality teaching, training and support acrossEurope, the Middle East and Africa.
  • In six purpose-built rooms, the Centre also houses £500,000 of computer networking and communications equipment, together with more than £200,000 of web-based equipment and bookable resources.
  • The course provides opportunities for you to engage in advanced studies using problem-based learning and flipped curricula strategies. You will work in groups and on your own to deliver solutions to industry-related problems and scenarios.
  • The unique combination of employer-led, research-informed technical knowledge and practical experience on industry-standard resources makes our graduates more employable and sought after.
  • The course encourages critical thinking and problem solving, giving you the opportunities for research.

Students outside Millennium Point

Open Days

Our next Open Day for this course will take place on Sunday 25 November 2018. Book your place to see our facilities and speak to our staff and students.

Book your place

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

Speak to an expert

If you’ve got any questions about the course, we’d love to hear from you. Please email the Course Director: Mak Sharma.

Email Course Director

Alternatively, you can register for our next postgraduate open day.

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

We are members of:

WISE member logo2 WISE members inspire girls to choose maths, physics and computing.

Course Accreditations


Accreditations shall be renewed in accordance with the accreditor’s standard review process and subject to the University maintaining the same high standards of course delivery.

This course is accredited by:

Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET)

Subject to approval

This course is in the final stages of approval to ensure it meets the very highest standards of quality, creativity and applied learning.

Entry Requirements

UK students

In order to be considered for a place on this course, you must have passed and Honours degree at minimum of 2:2 or equivalent.

International students

For international students, you should have attained IELTS 6.0 or equivalent.

International Students

Entry requirements here

UK or EU students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
MSc Sep 2019 FT 12 months £7,100 per year
PT 24 months £3,550 per year

International Students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
MSc Sep 2019 FT 12 months £12,300 per year

If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our PDF application form and equal opportunities PDF form instead. Fees for 2019/20 will be published as soon as possible. The University reserves the right to increase fees in line with inflation based on the Retail Prices Index or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament up to a maximum of five per cent.

Course duration

Please note, there are no taught classes over the summer months (June to August) for postgraduate courses, so the total time spent in University for this course is:

  • September start (full-time) 12 months
  • September start (part-time) 20 months

Personal statement

UK / EU students are required to submit a personal statement as part of their application for this course.*

Your postgraduate personal statement is going to shine a light on your personal experience, academic success, personal skills and any other factors that will support your application for further study.

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

Your passion and motivations

Studying a postgraduate course usually means you want to specialise in something. So what’s driving you?

Why this course?

Show that you’ve researched the course offering. What is it about this particular course that appeals to you? Is it the lecturers? The modules? Etc.

What makes you a good postgraduate candidate?

Tutors want to know that you can handle postgraduate study, so show them how your undergraduate experiences or work life has equipped you for a more advanced level of study. Key areas to address are research and group work but this can vary depending on your chosen course.

Relevant academic or work experience

Add anything relevant that relates back to your chosen course and shows how your skills will contribute towards your learning. What extra-curricular activities have you taken part in? What awards have you won? What employment or voluntary experience do you have that has helped you develop transferable skills? How do these specifically relate to the course you are applying for?

You should also mention your future plans and how a postgraduate qualification fits in. Try to look beyond your postgraduate study – do you plan to jump straight into a specific career or follow your studies with a research degree? Lastly, use plain, professional English and, where possible, utilise the language of your chosen industry.

Get more information on writing personal statements


*Non-EU students are not required to submit a personal statement when applying for this course.

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.

Accommodation and living costs

The cost of accommodation and other living costs are not included within your course fees. More information on the cost of accommodation can be found in our accommodation pages.

The additional costs listed here are to be used for indicative purposes only and are based on the additional costs for the 2018/19 academic year. The additional costs for 2019/20 will be published as soon as possible.

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


Advanced Networking Systems and Security
20 credits

In this module you will study advanced network routing techniques, information distribution, and network security within a global context. You will develop the knowledge, understanding, and skills required to deploy and manage a range of internal and external routing protocols (EIGRP, OSPF, BGP) for a large-scale network using Cisco and Juniper equipment. You will build on your existing knowledge of building, managing, and securing large networks, and you will study underpinning theory in order to understand the requirements of information security policies, and to apply these within the network environment.  

Information Security
20 credits

Security measures are essential to guard a business’ success and reputation, and need to comply with legal requirements, standards and domain regulations. In this module you will consider the securing of personal data, and evaluate identity and access management controls in relation to the operational and business requirements of a computer system. You will evaluate a variety of security and risk management techniques, and you will gain knowledge, understanding, and practical experience of managing secure communications across a large-scale network using Cisco equipment. You will also develop and document a security policy and security assessment, and implement a secure network architecture design. 

Network Management
20 credits

In this module you will develop the knowledge, understanding, and skills needed to deploy reliable, scalable, and secure multilayer switched networks using Cisco and Juniper equipment. You will learn and critically reflect on the skills of advanced network switching techniques and information distribution within a local and wide area network context. Projects in this module are based on automation and orchestration, and topics include STP, MSTP, HSRP, and VRRP. You will critically evaluate future trends in network design and networking technologies, and consider the requirements for implementing security measures in the design and management process. 

Software Defined Network Engineering
20 credits

Software Defined Networking (SDN) has emerged as the next major evolution in switch design and network management. In this module you will develop knowledge in the role of the data and control planes, and the advantages and implications of separating these. You will examine the theoretical and practical aspects of the SDN concept and how it is applied to data networks in a working environment. Lectures and laboratory sessions will introduce you to the relevant knowledge and skills, including a basis of core programming concepts, and you will apply your knowledge to designing and constructing implementable solutions.

Research Methods and Project Management
20 credits

This module will prepare you for the research project that you will undertake towards the end of your Master’s course. It will equip you with transferable skills and knowledge that will help you with your studies and your future career. A combination of lectures, tutorials, and practical workshops will help you to become familiar with the research literature in your chosen subject area and the research methods used in Computer Sciences. This module will help you to improve your written and verbal communication skills, as well as your time and project management. 

Advanced Ethical Hacking
20 credits

Ethical hacking refers to the exploitation of an IT system with the owner’s permission in order to determine its weaknesses. The results are typically used to recommend measures that mitigate the risk of a cyber-attack. In this module you will critically evaluate the requirements for ethical hacking and penetration testing, and use your knowledge to design security assessment experiments to expose vulnerabilities in existing systems. You will then analyse and report the resulting data in order to develop appropriate countermeasures for cyber-attacks, and you will apply security police enforcement rules to protect corporate assets in an organisational context. 

Individual Master’s Project
60 credits

You will undertake a sustained, in-depth and research-informed project, exploring an area of personal interest. In agreement with your supervisor, you will decide on your topic which will take the form of a practical outcome (artefact) with accompanying contextual material. Your topic must be aligned to the programme that you are studying and informed by the research strategy of your school. You should also consider the relevance of this topic to your future academic or professional development. You are expected to work independently but will receive additional one-to-one support from your supervisor, who will be familiar with your chosen topic area.

All the modules are practice-based and learning is carried out in the labs. Each 20-credit module will have two hours contact, and you are expected to undertake approximately six additional hours of learning, research and assessment preparation for each module.

Assessment is carried out through presentations (both group and individual), timed tests and exams, written reports, research activity and publication of findings, and practical-based time assessments.

At the start of the course, there will be a three-week, full-time induction tool kit, comprising of a review of CCNA and associated technologies.

The course also provides the base knowledge for students to undertake the CCNA certification, and with an additional boot camp to undertake the individual CCNP certification exams.

International opportunities

It is possible for you to undertake the project or placement overseas related to the IT industry.

Upon successful interview, there are possibilities for you to support classes in India at our partner universities.

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.

Additional costs

  • USB drives for loading configurations
  • Purchase of certification books
Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET)
Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) - full IEng

The course is accredited by the Institution of Engineering and Technology, ensuring it remains fresh and relevant, as well as boasting the best industry contacts.

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

Opportunity for local and national visits to conferences, exhibitions and industry.

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.

IISP logo

We are an academic partner of the Institute of Information Security Professionals.

Enhancing your employability skills

The University is eager to recognise students have made the effort to gain industry experience and stand out from the typical graduate. Thus, we offer a range of options for you to get extra awards and recognition for your work in industry.

We also have our Graduate+ programme, an extracurricular awards framework that is designed to augment the subject-based skills that you’ve developed throughout the programme with broader employability attributes, which will enhance your employability options upon graduating.


There are a range of opportunities for you to gain industrial relevant experience, either as part of the course, the project or placements. Typical roles during and after this course include:

  • Network administrator, design or architect
  • Network security design
  • Network implementation
  • Network optimisation
  • Network and security support
  • Network operations and support
  • Industry-based placement
  • Industry-based projects
  • KTPs
  • PhD research


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.

Students have typically taken up placement job roles such as:

  • Network administrator, design or architect
  • Network security design
  • Network implementation
  • Network optimisation
  • Network and security support
  • Network operations and support

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.

The course is taught in one of the six purpose-built rooms that house £500,000 of computer networking and communications equipment, together with more than £200,000 of web-based equipment and resources with bookable access 24x7. Other vendor resources include Juniper and HP.

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

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.

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 the Associate Professor of 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. 

Michael Clarke

Senior Lecturer

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

Peter Bull

Dr Peter Bull


From 2007-2012, Peter worked as a Research Engineer, on a collaborative doctoral project with BAE Systems and Loughborough University. This research focused on the development of a “Quality of Service Framework for Dynamic and Dependable Systems”. 

Following on from this, Peter was employed as a Research Associate within the Department of Computer Science at Loughborough University.  His research projects included a Knowledge Transfer Account project developing a test-bed to incorporate the previously proposed Quality of Service framework, with an industrial software architecture emulator.  Other projects included: a feasibility study of “Quality-of-X” for the provision of network resilience in heterogeneous, dynamic systems, and an Industrial sub-contract for BAE Systems investigating the application of a safety critical Ethernet concept to an OpenFlow based switch. 

From October 2013 to August 2014 Peter worked as a University Teacher, taking on teaching responsibilities and supervising PhD students in a range of topics including Software Defined Networking, Cloud Computing Security, Stochastic Network Modelling, and Real-Time System Non-Functional Requirement Modelling.

In August 2014, Peter took up a position as Lecturer in the School of Computing, Telecommunications, and Networks at Birmingham City University.