The 13 best universities in the UK if you want a job in cyber security

Queen's University BelfastQueen’s University BelfastThis Irish uni has great ties to big name companies in cyber

For the last half decade, the UK government and security industry has been warning we are in the middle of a massive cyber skills gap.

The lack of skilled defenders means many companies are woefully vulnerable to attacks, a trend that has been showcased by the sweep of mega data breaches to afflict big name companies, including Target, JP Morgan, and Wal-Mart.

On the plus side, it means that companies are now willing to pay big bucks for cyber professionals. According to Robert Half Technology’s Salary Guide, security professionals salaries are the fastest growing in the country.

But with many roles requiring some pretty hefty training, and the letters MSc or Phd before an applicant’s name, most will need to study at a post grad level to break into the industry.

Here to help, we’ve made a list of the the only 13 universities in the UK to have received the government’s hallowed Academic Centres of Excellence in Cyber Security Research (ACEs-CSR) accreditation — which means they turn out top-knotch research — and then ranked them according to their computer science ranking on the Complete University Guide.

13. Royal Holloway, University of London

Complete University Guide rank: 33

Royal Holloway, University of London has trained over 3,000 students in the art of hacker war since it launched its MSc information security Masters degree programme in 1992.

Additionally, it's one of a select few universities to offer focused courses on cyber security at an undergrad, Masters, and doctoral level.

12. Queen's University Belfast

Complete University Guide rank: 31

Queen's University Belfast's MSc in Cyber security trains post grads in applied cryptograph, computer forensics, ethical and legal issues in cyber security, malware network security, and monitoring and media security

The university has strong ties with a number of big name companies in the security industry including Infosys, Cisco, IBM, Thales, BAE Systems, McAfee, Roke, and Altera.

11. The University of Kent

Complete University Guide rank: 28

Located in the UK's beautiful city of Canterbury, the University of Kent's computing department teaches security in its undergraduate computer science degree and also offers a computer security MSc.

10. Lancaster University

Complete University Guide rank: 25

Lancaster University's multidisciplinary MSc in cyber security is supported and recognised by some of the biggest trade unions and powers in the cyber security industry. These include the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), and Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI) groups.

9. The University of Surrey

Complete University Guide rank: 20

The University of Surrey's one-year information security MSc offers a range of topics. These include cryptographic algorithms and protocols, concepts and technologies for digital forensics, the science of privacy-enhancing technologies and 'concepts of human-centered and usable security.'

8. Newcastle University

Complete University Guide rank: 18

Newcastle University's Centre for Cybercrime and Computer Security teaches a wealth of topics including secure system engineering, information and operational assurance techniques, and quantitative security.

The university reports 86% of its computer security and resilience MSc students find employment within six months of graduating.

7. The University of Birmingham

Complete University Guide rank: 10

University of Birmingham School of Computer Science has an unashamed practical focus and teaches Masters students cryptography, network security, and secure programming.

As an added bonus, the program also has lessons taught by guest lecturers from Microsoft, Vodafone, Siemens, IBM, and Hewlett Packard, ensuring students are being taught the skills their future employers actually want.

6. University College London

Complete University Guide rank: 9

University College London, more commonly known as UCL, was set up as an Academic Centre of Excellence for Cyber Security Research in 2012.

The centre offers tuition and promotes research on a wealth of security topics including network and computer security, cryptography, human factors in security, language-based security, and program verification and analysis.

5. University of Southampton

Complete University Guide rank: 8

The University of Southampton's MSc in cyber security teaches students all the essential skills they need to succeed in a career in security including software engineering, risk management, cryptography, data mining, and biometrics.

4. The University of Bristol

Complete University Guide: 4

The Bristol Security Centre was one of the first eight research groups to be ACEs-CSR certified.

The Centre works to offer potential security experts an interdisciplinary education that teaches students cyber security from an engineering, science, social science, and law perspective. The university's research has a strong focus on cryptography research.

3. University of Oxford

Complete University Guide rank: 3

The University of Oxford's Global Cyber Security Capacity Centre offers a variety of Masters courses for wanna-be security professionals, though it's the doctoral program that really shines.

The department has a particular focus on the cyber-physical security, real-time security, assurance, and big-data security research topics.

2. Imperial College London

Complete University Guide rank: 2

Imperial College London integrates security into its undergraduate computer science degree and also offers a specialist MSc in Computing Secure Software Systems and doctoral programs for post graduates.

Topics and research areas at Imperial include everything from improving low-level hardware security to developing next generation solutions for cloud computing infrastructures.

1. University of Cambridge

Complete University Guide: 1

The University of Cambridge security post grad programmes also have a strong track record churning out graduates that go on to set up their own company and make millions.

Key success stories include Xensource, which was was acquired by Citrix for a cool $US500 million in 2007 and nCiphe, which was bought by Thales for $US100 million in 2008.

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