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COMP61421 Cyber Security syllabus 2021-2022

COMP61421 materials

COMP61421 Cyber Security

Level 6
Credits: 15
Enrolled students: 34

Course leader: Ning Zhang

Additional staff: view all staff


  • Pre-Requisite (Compulsory): COMP61411

Assessment methods

  • 100% Coursework
Sem 1 w7-11 Lecture Hum Bridge St G33 Fri 09:00 - 11:00 -
Sem 1 w7-11 ONLINE Lecture Mon 09:00 - 13:00 -
Sem 1 w7-11 ONLINE Lecture Mon 14:00 - 16:00 -
Sem 1 w7-11 ONLINE DROP-IN Mon 16:00 - 18:00 -
Themes to which this unit belongs
  • Cyber Security


This course unit detail provides the framework for delivery in 20/21 and may be subject to change due to any additional Covid-19 impact. Current students should see Blackboard/course unit related emails for any further updates.

This course unit is jointly developed and delivered by Ning Zhang (from the Department of Computer Science) and Daniel Dresner (a graduate of Manchester Business School who works with government, industry, and the third sector to secure information systems). Over the period of the module, Daniel and Ning are joined by a cohort of guest lecturers from industry.


The course unit covers risk, human factors, and compensating technologies by considering the requirements of cyber and information system security with a systemic view of the development process from the 'Acquisition' through to the 'Disposal' stages.


Information assurance: the need for computer and network security

  • Security Breaches
    • Mistakes, criminality and cyber terrorism
  • System Life cycles
    • Plan-do-check-act
    • Propose, direct, monitor
  • Trustworthy software
  • Vulnerabilities
    • Technological
    • Human vulnerabilities in computer and network security

Cyber and information security management

  • Risk management
    • Threats and breaches
    • Risk and threat modelling
  • Technologies and countermeasures
    • Entity identification and authentication
    • Access control in computer systems and in networks
    • Communication security, Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and Web security
    • Wireless network security
    • E-Commerce/cloud computing security

Controls and regulators

  • Protection
    • Security Policy
    • Secure System Development and Maintenance
    • Security Organisation
    • Asset Management
    • Access Control
    • Physical and Environmental Security
    • Human factors
  • Operation
    • Communications and Operations Management
    • Security Incident and Event Management
    • Business Continuity Management
  • Self preservation
    • Kill-chain disruption
    • Intrusion prevention
    • Intrusion detection
    • Recovery
  • Compliance
    • Cyber and information security management standards
    • Laws and regulations
    • Audits reviews, and inspection
    • Vulnerability scanners
    • Penetration testing
    • Computer forensics

Teaching methods


40 hours: Lectures and group work.

Feedback methods

Via question/answer session during lectures and course works.

Study hours

  • Assessment written exam (2 hours)
  • Lectures (20 hours)
  • Practical classes & workshops (15 hours)

Employability skills

  • Analytical skills
  • Group/team working
  • Innovation/creativity
  • Problem solving
  • Research
  • Written communication

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, a student will be able to:

  • Apply critical thinking to assess the risk to an information system.
  • Understand risk, threats, and vulnerabilities in the context of cyber security and those who rely on it.
  • Evaluate intelligence to create a structured plan to reduce the risk posed by threats to an acceptable level
  • Translate the treatment of cyber security risk into consistent policy for resilient security management.
  • Apply a risk-based approach to cyber security testing.
  • Analyse and identify security vulnerabilities and threats in a networked or distributed system context.
  • Design and analyse security protocols or solutions for a given security problem or for achieving a given security goal.
  • Describe, analyse and apply security techniques and technologies learnt in the course unit to solve real-life security problems in practical systems.
  • Demonstrate your awareness of recent research directions or activities in the area of cyber security.

Reading list

Cryptography and network security : principles and practice Stallings, William, author.9781292158587Pearson2017
Security engineering : a guide to building dependable distributed systems Anderson, Ross, 1956-9780470068526Wiley Technology Pub.2008.
The case of the killer robot : stories about the professional, ethical, and societal dimensions of computing.Epstein, Richard G.0471138231Wiley1997.
Building Internet firewalls Zwicky, Elizabeth D.1565928717O'Reilly2000.

Additional notes

Links to course unit teaching materials can be found on the Department of Computer Science website for current students.