MSc by Coursework and Thesis specialising in Information Security

Applications for 2021 Intake

Regretably due to staffing constraints, the coursework program will be suspended for 2021, thus there will be no application process.

Further Information

The Department of Computer Science at Rhodes University offers a part time Masters Degree Programme focused on Information Security, designed specifically for Information Security practitioners in industry. The two-year course, which has been running since 2011, takes the form of a combination of coursework modules in the first year, followed by an individual research project in the second year.   The taught component of the course is delivered by staff at the University, as well as leading Information Security practitioners from the South African Information Security Industry. The course is also available for full time students as a one-year in-attendance Masters Degree, in which the coursework and research are undertaken concurrently while resident on the Rhodes University campus.

The part time course is organised over two years with coursework modules completed in the first year and an individual research dissertation completed and examined in the second year. Graduation is in April the year after completion.

Year 1

The coursework modules are delivered in Grahamstown on the Rhodes University campus over an extended weekend session (generally Friday to Sunday).

The coursework consists of two compulsory modules and three elective modules. The first compulsory module covers research methods and academic writing and culminates in the submission of an approved research proposal by year-end. The second module is a general introduction to Information Security.  Both of these modules are presented at the start of the first year typically over a single 5-day session.

A selection of elective modules are offered each year. This selection changes from year to year depending on the availability of industry partners, however, typical topics covered are the following:

  • Penetration Testing
  • Data Analytics for Security
  • Application Security (including web applications)
  • Security Metrics
  • Security within the Enterprise
  • Threat Modelling
  • Digital Forensics
  • Malware Analysis

Each module (except the Research Methods and Academic Writing module) will be assessed by a written assignment based on the module material, to be submitted a few weeks after the module is presented. Students must have attended the module to be eligible to submit the assignment. Students may be required to do pre-reading for modules. Some modules may also require students to complete exercises or give presentations that contribute to the assessment mark, while in attendance.

During the second half of the first year, individual research topics focused on some aspect within the larger Information Security space, need to be decided. Students are encouraged to engage with the lecturing staff from early in the year, to help select a suitable project research area. Once a topic has been found, a draft proposal is submitted, and the student is normally required to present a short talk outlining this proposal. These initial research presentations, which are typically held during one of the last two module sessions, are important in terms of providing the student with constructive feedback on the proposal, and helping with supervisor selection. Supervisor allocations are done after the final module session, after which the student is required to develop (in conjunction with the allocated supervisor) and submit a final research proposal (normally by the middle of November of the first year).

Year 2

The second year is dedicated to the individual research project that students must write-up in a formal document (spanning approximately 80-100 pages). The research is conducted in accordance with the research proposal submitted in the first year. 

Although deadlines during the second year are mainly done on an individual basis by the supervisors, there is normally a compulsory workshop for all students scheduled in the middle of the year at which students are required to present on the progress of their research. Students are strongly encouraged to plan at least one other visit to campus during the year after consultation with their research supervisor.  

Last Modified: Mon, 19 Oct 2020 15:48:45 SAST