Module details for Defence Against the Dark Arts


Aimed at students who have an interest in technology but are not experts, the module will include “personal” digital safety, but go beyond this and look at principles, enabling students to apply their knowledge to tomorrow’s digital world as well as today’s. We also include aspects relating to industry/management/society. The aim is to make computer security fun and practical, while also being eye-opening and covering base knowledge that will continue to be relevant to future generations of devices.


The aim of this Module is to provide the student with :Knowledge and practical skills in cybersecurity for students whose core modules do not focus on this. It considers the main threats to cybersecurity and personal, technical and societal countermeasures.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module the student should be able to:

1.  Describe vulnerabilities in computer systems and possible threats arising from their exploitation.

2.  Evaluate and assess methods for defending computer systems and securing data and information.

3.  Explain the significance, underlying science, limitations and consequences for society of cryptography and information hiding

Indicative Content

1 *

Current state of computer security An overview including legal aspects

2 *

Cyber attacks, vulnerabilities and threats Malware, Network attacks (denial of service, packet sniffing etc), bots, rootkits. How the bad guys can obtain your password.

3 *

Information Leakage, recovery and forensics Recovering deleted or corrupted files. What your browser knows about you. Web browser forensics.

4 *

Securing networks, accounts and devices Defence against malware, honeypots, Secure protocols, intrusion detection, Password security, Mobile device security

5 *

Human aspects of cyber security The Psychology of Hackers, Social Engineering, identity theft, Usability vs security.

6 Header 6

Breaking the code An introduction to cryptography, Encryption and Decryption, public and private keys, the key exchange problem.

7 *

History of Cryptography The Caesar cipher, polyalphabetic ciphers, the Playfair cipher, the role of Enigma and the Bletchley Park cryptographers in WWII

8 *

Computers and Crypto Diffie-Hellman and RSA encryption. Phil Zimmerman and “Pretty Good Protection". Quantum Cryptography – Provably unbreakable information hiding. Mathematical Underpinnings – Large prime numbers and why they matter.

9 *

Steganography A picture's worth a thousand words when you're hiding the wood in the trees.

10 *

The Law, Society and Cryptography Why you can be imprisoned for forgetting your password. The Civil Liberties Arguments for and against strong-crypto. International perspectives on information hiding, information freedom, the right to privacy and the conflicts between these. Are unbreakable cyphers an unqualified “good thing”?

Teaching and Learning Work Loads

Teaching and Learning Method Hours
Lecture 12
Tutorial/Seminar 0
Practical Activity 26
Assessment 40
Independent 122
Total 200

Guidance notes

SCQF Level - The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework provides an indication of the complexity of award qualifications and associated learning and operates on an ascending numeric scale from Levels 1-12 with SCQF Level 10 equating to a Scottish undergraduate Honours degree.

Credit Value – The total value of SCQF credits for the module. 20 credits are the equivalent of 10 ECTS credits. A full-time student should normally register for 60 SCQF credits per semester.


We make every effort to ensure that the information on our website is accurate but it is possible that some changes may occur prior to the academic year of entry. The modules listed in this catalogue are offered subject to availability during academic year 2021/22 , and may be subject to change for future years.