Six university security Masters degrees approved by GCHQ


GCHQ has accredited six UK universities to teach Masters degrees in cyber security, to fill future roles in the field to defend the nation against hackers and online fraud.

The universities selected to teach the courses are Edinburgh Napier University, Lancaster University, the University of Oxford and Royal Holloway, University of London, while Cranfield University's cyber defence and information assurance course, and the University of Surrey's information security course have received provisional accreditation.

The Masters degrees have been running without accreditation, but this new sign-off by the government demonstrates the quality of these particular qualifications, GCHQ said. It described the content as "well-defined and appropriate," making it easier for businesses to select a suitably skilled person to fill roles in the cyber security space.

The accreditation is part of GCHQ's strategy to improve education around internet security as set out in the UK's cyber security strategy released in 2011.

The plans set out a four-year roadmap with aims to enhance the government's current capabilities, improve security collaboration with and support for businesses, and boost the UK's ability to fend off attacks.

GCHQ said of the new Masters accreditations: "The National Cyber Security Strategy recognises education as key to the development of cyber security skills and, earlier in the year, UK universities were invited to submit their cyber security Masters degrees for certification against GCHQ's stringent criteria for a broad foundation in cyber security.

"Partnerships 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."

GCHQ said it will invite more universities to submit their courses for consideration for accreditation by the end of 2014.

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.