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This is an archived syllabus from 2019-2020

COMP61411 Cryptography syllabus 2019-2020

COMP61411 Cryptography

Level 6
Credits: 15
Enrolled students: 48

Course leader: Richard Banach

Additional staff: view all staff

Assessment methods

  • 60% Written exam
  • 40% Coursework
Sem 1 P1 Lecture 2.19 Tue 09:00 - 16:00 -
Sem 1 P1 Lecture 2.19+2.25A+2.25B Tue 16:00 - 17:00 -
Sem 1 P1 Lab 2.25 (A+B) Tue 17:00 - 18:00 -
Themes to which this unit belongs
  • Security


Cryptographic techniques today lie at the heart of the strategies used to protect users' data from unauthorised access. They come into their own particularly when data has to be transmitted across unreliable and unprotected networks.


The course aims to give students a good appreciation of cryptographic techniques, as they have arisen historically, and as they are used today.


  • Early cryptography: permutations and substitutions, Vignere, Vernam, one time pads, etc.
  • Rotor machines: Enigma and its relatives.
  • Case study: Marian Rejewski and the breaking of the German Enigma.
  • Modern cryptography, secret key: block cyphers, DES, AES, etc.
  • Modern cryptography, public key: Diffie-Hellman, RSA, elliptic curves.
  • Message authentication, hash functions.
  • Quantum cryptography: quantum key distribution in practice.

Feedback methods

Feedback is provided face to face in the lab, and online for uploaded assessed materials.

Study hours

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

Employability skills

  • Analytical skills
  • Problem solving

Learning outcomes

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

  • Comment on the broad principles underlying cryptography and its applications.
  • Describe some of the classical cryptographic techniques and their weaknesses.
  • Describe the principles of the most widely used private key cryptographic schemes.
  • Describe the principles of the most widely used public key key cryptographic schemes.

Reading list

Cryptography and Network Security: Principles and Practice, Global EditionWilliam Stallings978-1292437484Pearson6 Jun. 2022

Additional notes

Course unit materials

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