Ethical Hacking

Demand for qualified ethical hackers and cybersecurity specialists is rising year on year. Study our Ethical Hacking degree and discover the fascinating field of cybersecurity.

Course detail

Start Date



4 years

Award Title

BSc (Hons)



Why study an Ethical Hacking Degree?

Demand for qualified ethical hackers and cyber security specialists is rising year on year. Study our Ethical Hacking degree and discover the fascinating field of cybersecurity.

How do hackers get into corporate security systems? How do they ‘steal’ computer data? Can you build the right defenses and stop hackers in their tracks?  Find out how on our Ethical Hacking degree course.

We are right at the forefront of cybersecurity, producing highly skilled, in-demand graduates. You’ll develop a practical and offensive approach, by deliberately breaking computer systems and building cybersecurity defences.

  • Understand the processes behind hacking and cyber attacks.
  • Work out how illegal hacks can be stopped.
  • Create real-life countermeasures and fixes.
  • Shut down security hacks quickly and professionally.
  • Document it and do it again!

The course combines computer networking, digital forensics and expert development as well as programming. You will learn how to protect data and information systems. Our Ethical Hacking degree gives you a deep understanding of cybercrime so you have the skills to stop hackers - fast.

Ethical Hacking BSc (Hons) - the benefits are clear:

  • One of the leading cybersecurity courses in the UK.
  • The first Ethical Hacking degree in the world.
  • Accredited by the BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT.
  • Great industry links and recruitment opportunities.
  • High employment rate on graduation.
  • Excellent starting salaries.

This course scored an impressive 94% Overall Student Satisfaction rating in the 2020 National Student Survey. Abertay University ranked in the 2020 top three Scottish Universities for Student SatisfactionAnd in the Guardian Good University Guide for 2021, Abertay ranked 3rd in the UK for student satisfaction with teaching, and 8th in the UK for overall student satisfaction.

What makes Abertay’s BSc (Hons) in Ethical Hacking unique?

Abertay students and staff talk about why they love the course and what makes it different from other cybersecurity degrees.

Virtual Open Day October 31 2020

We aim to immerse you in student life here at Abertay and give you a true feel for our courses and our amazing academic community.

Open Days are busy, fun and full-on. And Virtual Open Days online are new to all of us, so we will make sure you know what to expect, and how you can prepare for the event.

It's a day full of talks and videos about student life. Find out all about Abertay at our virtual Open Day on 31 October 2020.



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Entry Requirements

Please note:  All applicants must have a pass in Maths - National 5 grade C or GCSE grade C/4 or equivalent.  National 5 Lifeskills Maths not accepted in lieu of Maths.

Please visit our Entry from College pages for suitable College courses.

Qualification Type Grade Requirements Essential Subjects
Higher (standard entry) ABBB One of the following: Computer Science, Maths, Architectural Technology, Human Biology, Biology, Building Construction, Chemistry, Engineering Science, Environmental Science, Geography, Physics or ICT. Graphic Communication is NOT a Technical Subject.
Higher (minimum entry) We may make you an offer at the minimum entry grades if you meet the criteria. Find out if you're eligible for minimum entry (see below). ABB One of the following: Computer Science, Maths, Human Biology, Biology, Chemistry, Engineering Science, Geography, Physics
A-Level BCC One of the following: Computer Science, Maths, Architectural Technology, Human Biology, Biology, Building Construction, Chemistry, Engineering Science, Environmental Science, Geography, Physics, ICT or Digital Technology
Irish Highers H2H3H3H3 One of the following: Computer Science, Maths, Architectural Technology, Human Biology, Biology, Building Construction, Chemistry, Engineering Science, Environmental Science, Geography, Physics and ICT
International Baccalaureate 29 Points One of the following: Computer Science, Maths, Architectural Technology, Human Biology, Biology, Building Construction, Chemistry, Engineering Science, Environmental Science, Geography, Physics and ICT at S5 or H4
BTEC Extended Diploma DMM Creative Media Production, Electrical/Electronic Engineering, Engineering, IT
AHEAD - Successful completion of the relevant stream of our AHEAD programme
SWAP ABB Access to Physical Sciences, Access to Engineering
Qualification Type Grade Requirements Essential Subjects
Advanced Higher ABB Computer Science
A-Level ABB Computer Science
BTEC Extended Diploma D*DD IT (Networking and Systems Support)
HNC/HND Our Entry from College pages list approved HNC/HND courses

Don’t have the grades listed above?

We understand some people have faced extra challenges before applying to university, which is why we consider the background in which your academic grades have been achieved when making an offer.

We encourage you to submit an application if you expect to receive passes in three Scottish Highers (grades A-C) and have either:

  • Been in care.
  • Participated in an aspiration-raising programme such as LIFT OFF, LEAPS, FOCUS West, or Aspire North.
  • No family background of going to university.
  • Attended a school or lived in an area where not many people go to university.


The world's first Ethical Hacking degree


Unistats: Average salary six months after completing the course


Customised PCs in our dedicated Hack Lab

Your Career

The worldwide shortage of cybersecurity specialists means that our graduates have little difficulty finding employment, with many Ethical Hacking students headhunted before graduation.

Our graduates work for Dell Secure Works, Goldman-Sachs, GCHQ, NCC Group, Firstbase Techies, Nettitude, Portcullis, MWR, NCR, Prudential and many other prominent organisations.

A lot of our graduates become security testers, but some prefer working in defensive roles in areas such as network management and software development. Others set up their own ethical hacking consultancy businesses.

Female Ethical Hacking student Cheryl Torano

Colin McLean, Programme Leader


In 2005, Colin developed the idea for the BSc (Hons) in Ethical Hacking at Abertay. As the programme leader, Colin manages the day-to-day running of the programme and is there to help you if you have any issues while studying at Abertay. Watch Colin demonstrate a ransomware attack.


Information for International Applicants

Please provide certified proof of your English language level. Our accredited International English Foundation Course can help. To further enhance your academic English, Intensive English for Academic Purposes can help you achieve your potential.

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English Language Requirements

Explore English language requirements for entry to Abertay University.

Find out more

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English Language Courses

Discover the range of English language courses on offer at Abertay University.

Find out more

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Visa Information

Learn more about visa requirements for studying at Abertay University.

Find out more

About Your Modules

The module information shown here describes the modules our students are taking this year. The modules do change over time to keep our programmes up-to-date and relevant. This means the exact modules you take could be different. If you receive an offer to study with us, you will receive a Programme Information document that sets out exactly which modules you can expect to take as part of your Abertay University degree programme.

Please note: As well as Key Modules outlined below, you may also be required to choose Elective Modules. 

Key Modules (2019/20)

Computer Hardware Architecture and Operating Systems (CMP101)

Introduction to the core ideas of computer architecture for students studying the subject of computing, building a mental model of the functioning of a typical computer system that can be used to reason about system (hardware/software) behaviour. Module content: Computer architecture; Data representation; Machine instructions; Operating systems; Networks.

Computer Networking 1 (CMP109)

Introduction to computer networks through an analysis of basic networking fundamentals. Module content: Networking fundamentals; Network layers; Network models, protocols and applications

Programming with C++ (CMP104)

Software development through learning to design and implement applications in C++. The fundamentals of classes and objects, including key features such as class descriptions, constructors, methods and field, together with method implementation through assignment, selection and iterative control structures. Module content: Object oriented program development; Introduction to Object Orientation; Programming constructs; Aggregate types; Classes and Objects; Security; User Interface Design; Program Development and Testing; Modelling data.

Introduction to Security (CMP110)

Introduction to the broad area of computer security within the context of current legal frameworks. Module content: Relevant laws and ethical framework; Security models; Techniques for improving computer security defences; Techniques for evading computer security defences; Malware; Commands that a hacker can use to manipulate a comprised computer. Information gathering commands, file transfer commands, computer defence manipulation (e.g. firewall and anti-virus manipulation); Passwords; Command Line Tools; Traffic analysis.

Software Design (CMP102)

This module complements the programming modules that students take at Level 7 by introducing – in a practical rather than theoretical way – some of the fundamental ideas of software engineering, enabling students to develop and communicate designs for small and large scale software systems. Module content: Problem-solving; Classes and Objects; Security; OO Analysis Design and Implementation; Abstraction; Class modelling; Data design – an OO approach; Data design – a relational approach.

Data Structures and Algorithms 1 (CMP201)

Introduction to the standard data structures and algorithms that form the core of algorithmic thought in computer science that familiarises students with the idea of reasoning about the behaviour and performance of a computer programme. Module content: Reasoning about performance; Basic data structures; Sorting and searching; Trees; Graphs.

Dynamic Web Development 1 (CMP204)

Dynamic web applications, through client-side and server side internet development. This module will provide the student with the necessary skills to develop secure dynamic web applications, providing client-side and server-side interaction. Module Content: Web standards; Client-side technologies; Design techniques; Data persistence; Server-side scripting technologies; Security and legal issues; Practical aspects of security.

Ethical Hacking 1 (CMP210)

The tools used by Ethical Hackers to examine the security of a device or network. Learn to systematically investigate a computer network for possible vulnerabilities. Module content: Footprinting; Search Engines; Scanning; Enumeration; System Hacking; What are the principle vulnerabilities that computer systems are exposed to? How are they exploited. What are the techniques that can be used to assess them and the security of a system?; Development of supporting documentation.

Data Structures and Algorithms 2 (CMP202)

Introduction to some of the practical performance concerns in the selection and implementation of algorithms, using a range of case studies drawn from typical real-world applications. Module content: Measuring performance; Parallel programming; Low-level programming with threads; High-level parallel programming; Instruction-level parallelism; GPU architectures, appropriate algorithms for GPUs, GPU profiling; Application case studies.

Digital Forensics 1 (CMP209)

The basic technology and techniques used to investigate cybercrime. A systematic approach to planning and implementing a comprehensive computer forensic investigation, particularly evidence collection and the reconstruction of events therefrom. Module content: Computer Crime; Use of Linux as an investigative environment; File Systems as a source of forensic evidence; Data Acquisition; Computer Forensics Tools; Computer Forensic Analysis; Internet History and Email; Working with MS-Windows Systems; Computer Forensics Analysis; Reporting Results of Investigations.

Computer Networking 2 (CMP314)

Introduction to the ideas and concepts of how computers, mobile devices and gadgets communicate via a wide range of communications technologies with each other, and other devices. Module content: VLANS; STP; Static Routing; Subnetting and Variable Length Subnet Masks; Network Application protocols; Firewalls; Intrusion Detection Systems; Network Management.

Professional Project Development and Delivery (CMP311)

This module involves completing a team based development project or other technical investigation project, which was planned and initially developed in CMP308 (Software Project Management). The nature of the project will be relevant to the programme studied by the student. Module content: Orientation; Project principles; Documentation; Design; Implementation; Quality and standards; Communication; Project planning and team working; Self-evaluation.

Professional Project Planning and Prototyping (CMP308)

Working within a team, students will learn about project management concepts that enable them to create a project proposal in a professional manner and present their work in a client pitch to a stakeholder. Project briefs are provided by industry/or research based problems. Students work within their team and interact with project stakeholders and gain an understanding of the principles of project management.

Ethical Hacking 2 (CMP319)

Advanced techniques used by Ethical Hackers to examine the security of web applications and mobile devices. Module content: Web Application Security; Web Application Technologies; Injecting Code; Bypassing Client Side Controls; Attacking Authentication; Reflected XSS Vulnerabilities, Stored XSS Vulnerabilities, DOM-Based XSS Vulnerabilities, HTTP Header Injection. Countermeasures to XSS; Web Server Security; Basics of mobile application security.

Ethical Hacking 3 (CMP320)

The broad subject area of binary auditing. Gain an understanding of the countermeasures that a company can take to minimise the effect of vulnerabilities. Module content includes: Binary auditing tools; Binary auditing; Buffer Overflows; Shell code development; Structured Exception Handling; Overcoming operating system countermeasures. Avoiding Data Execution Prevention (DEP). Address Space Randomisation Layout (ASLR) evasion using ROP chains; Heap Spray Techniques; Malware analysis.

Software Development for Mobile Devices (CMP309)

Software development practices to develop applications for a range of smart and mainly mobile devices. Learn to develop and evaluate the techniques used to implement mobile applications. Module content: Background to Smart and Mobile Development; User Interfaces; Storage; Location awareness; Telephony SMS; Communication Networks; Security; Performance; Mobile Web Application Development.

Digital Forensics 2 (CMP416)

The forensic investigation of computer (e.g. TCP/IP) and mobile phone networks. Starting with an understanding of the underlying communications technologies, go on to develop a comprehensive, systematic approach to the discovery and examination of evidence from both end-user devices (e.g. phones, tablets etc.) and the networking infrastructure itself. Module content: Mobile Phone technologies and networks; Principles and limitations of mobile operation; Forensic analysis of end-user devices; Cellsite Analysis; Mobile Phone Data mining; Evaluate techniques for the gathering, analysis and use of network based evidence - session data, alert data, statistical data. Tools and techniques - packet tools for real-time capture and analysis, log analysis tools, custom written tools; Network integrity; Live incident response; Intrusion detection systems; Server side forensics.

System Internals and Cybersecurity (CMP408)

In depth knowledge of system programming with security challenges in kernel and user space. Develop a firm understanding of system and device internal operations including operating system internals and how new applications can be implemented in scenarios such as IoT deployments. Learn how cloud and web technologies can be used in conjunction with such devices. Module content: System Programming; Hardware; Operating systems; Kernels; Auditing and Debugging; Loadable modules; Cloud Platforms; Web Technologies.

Honours Project Proposal and Execution (CMP400)

This module provides the student with the opportunity to undertake the practical and development work for a major, in-depth individual project in an aspect of their programme. Normally the idea for project will be devised by the student and development work will be undertaken during this module. During term 1 proof of concept development will be undertaken to support the specification of a well-researched project proposal document. During term 2 the main development work for the project will be undertaken and completed.

Honours Project Dissertation (1) (CMP403)

Present a major, in-depth individual project in the form of a dissertation in an aspect of your programme which allows for critical and insightful review and evaluation. Module content: Introduction; Investigate; Justify; Document; Evaluate; Communicate.

Engineering Resilient Systems 1 (CMP417)

Social and technical approaches to better security resilience in systems through consideration of methods of attack and defence. Module content: The Ingredients of Machine Learning; Support Vector Machines for Cyber Security; Neural Networks for Cyber Security; Authentication Design; Principles of Secure Software Development; Language and API Design for Security; Secure Software Engineering.

Degree content

How do hackers break into computer systems? Is it easy to breach a corporate network and steal secrets? What steps can organisations take to prevent attacks? These are just some of the questions the programme will answer.

Abertay students learn how to take a practical and offensive approach to cyber security by deliberately breaking systems and circumventing security defences.

This degree arms you with the skills you need to:

  • Understand the process behind hacking attacks.
  • Develop appropriate countermeasures.
  • Gain the technical knowledge to undertake security audit testing on computer networks and systems.

Ultimately, our Ethical Hacking degree, which is accredited by BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, provides you with a deep understanding of how illegal computer attacks can be performed and how they can be stopped.

For more detailed module and course information, download the BSc (Hons) in Ethical Hacking programme flyer.

How you learn

You’ll learn through a blend of lectures, tutorials, practical work and reading. The majority of modules make use of online learning resources. Real world case studies of major attacks and data breaches are used provide the opportunity for critical analysis and evaluation in class.

During practical exercises, you’ll be expected to evaluate your own work to make sure that products are functional and fit for purpose.

Knowledge and skill are assessed through project work, reports, portfolios and practical assessments. Approximately 20% of the programme is assessed by examination.



As an Abertay Ethical Hacking student, you’ll have the opportunity to participate in Securi-Tay. The largest information security conference in Scotland, Securi-Tay features talks and workshops from industry experts, giving you the chance to learn more about the latest industry developments and speak to recruiters from companies like Dell Secure Works, Goldman-Sachs, GCHQ, NCC Group, Firstbase Techies, Nettitude, Portcullis, MWR, NCR, Prudential. Securi-Tay is run by Abertay’s Ethical Hacking Society.

Picture of male and female from behind - male is wearing an Ethical Hacking Society hoody

The Hack Lab

As an Ethical Hacking student, you’ll have full access to Abertay’s custom-built Hack Lab. Every PC in the Hack Lab is isolated from the main university network, allowing you to experiment with all aspects of ethical hacking in a safe, controlled environment.  You’ll be aggressively exploiting flaws in realistic websites and networks, so removing the ability to cripple the university network is crucial!

Ethical Hacking Laboratory - room full of Desktop computers

Programme Fees

Scottish & EU students


Fees shown are payable annually and may be subject to increase each year. Fees are normally funded through the Student Awards Agency for Scotland for eligible students.

Please see our Undergraduate Fees and Funding page for further details. 

English, Welsh & Northern Irish Students


Fees shown are payable annually and may be subject to increase each year.

Please see our Undergraduate Fees and Funding page for further details. 

International Students


Fees shown are payable annually and may be subject to increase each year.

Please see our Undergraduate Fees and Funding page for further details. . 


We offer a range of scholarships to help support your studies with us.

As well as Abertay scholarships for English, Welsh, Northern Irish and international students, there are a range of corporate and philanthropic scholarships available. Some are course specific, many are not. There are some listed below or you can visit the Undergraduate scholarship pages.

Abertay rUK Scholarship

This is a £9,200 award for prospective undergraduate students applying from England, Wales or Northern Ireland.

Abertay International Scholarship

This is an award of up to £12,000 for prospective international undergraduate students.

The Robert Reid Bursary

Two £1,000 awards for students who have overcome challenges to attend university.


Unistats collates comparable information in areas students have identified as important in making decisions about what and where to study. The core information it contains is called the Unistats dataset (formerly the Key Information Set (KIS)).

Get inspired

Meet some of our Ethical Hacking graduates and find out what they've gone on to do.

A picture of Dan Mosca

Dan Mosca

Getting a helicopter to work - discover what life offshore is like for a Consulting Analyst in a cyber role.

Find out more

A picture of Grant Douglas in a kilt on his wedding day

Grant Douglas

One of the top iOS Apple iPhone security workers at Synopsys

Find out more

A photo of Ciaran Gallagher on a boat.

Ciaran Gallagher

Ciaran travels all over the world as a Technical Consultant at Appirio.

Find out more

Programme Leader - Ethical Hacking

Mr Colin McLean

Mr Colin McLean

School of Design and Informatics | Lecturer

View profile

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Explore our Dundee Campus

Abertay is conveniently located on a city centre campus, with all of its buildings within a quarter of a mile of each other. Shops, recreational facilities and the main bus and train stations are a short walk away.

Our Campus

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Why Abertay?

We're proud of our students and graduates, and we believe there's no better place to study if you're looking for a degree that helps you stand out as an exceptional candidate in an increasingly competitive job market.

Why Abertay?

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Come to an Open Day

An Open Day is your chance to get an up close experience of the University and the city. You’ll come away with all the information you need about us and the courses you’re interested in.

Open Days

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Living in Dundee

Dundee is a city of contrasts. It's vibrant and cosmopolitan, but also friendly, compact and affordable. The first UK city to be awarded UNESCO City of Design status, Dundee has a rich history of innovation and creativity, and, in recent years, has become a hub for the digital industries.

Living in Dundee

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Non-country specific qualifications


International Baccalaureate

English B at S5 or H4 (If doing English A – no need for any result)

European Baccalaureate

6 (English L1) or 7 (English L2)


Country Specific Requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants from over the world. Select your country from the below options.