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Ethical Hacking

Cybercrime is a growing threat. Consequently, the world is seeing a rapid increase in the demand for ethical hackers - computer and networking experts who systematically attempt to penetrate a computer system or network in order to find and fix security vulnerabilities. It's a fascinating field with great career prospects.

Next Start Date: September

Degree type: BSc (Hons)


Duration: 4 years (full-time) or 3 years (accelerated)


Why choose this course?

  • Created in 2006, this course became the first undergraduate degree in the world with the word 'hacking' in the title.  This course is now recognised as one of the UK's leading vocational security programmes.

The modern computing world faces ever-changing security challenges. Hacker tactics, security vulnerabilities, advancing business practices and computing technologies are all evolving rapidly. Professionals with a broad-based expertise, solid pragmatic skills and an ability to “think-outside-the-box” are best placed to solve these security challenges.

This course aims to provide you with the knowledge and skills required to understand the mechanics behind hacking attacks, and develop appropriate countermeasures. In addition, you will gain the necessary background knowledge and technical skills to undertake security audit testing on computer networks and systems.

Modern software systems and applications are often extremely complex, so it is almost impossible to build solutions that are 100% secure at initial release. It is also far better for security loopholes to be identified and fixed by internal hackers rather than external ones.

Consequently, the business world is seeing a rapid increase in the demand for ethical - white hat - hackers, employed by companies to find security holes before criminal - black hat - hackers do.

How do hackers break into computer systems? Can they get into your computer? Is it easy to break into a corporate network and steal their secrets? Hackers are innately curious and want to pull things apart. They experiment and research. A hacker wants to learn and investigate.

The aim is for someone to arrive on this programme as a student and leave as an ethical hacker. During the programme, the security modules use a case-study approach which allows you to gain experience in investigating, analysing, testing, hacking and, ultimately, protecting real-life systems through the development of countermeasures.

The basic aim of this course is to provide a graduate with knowledge of how illegal computer attacks can be performed and how they can be stopped.


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What you study

What you study

An indicative list of topics that you will study as a student of Ethical Hacking is shown below:

Year 1
Computer Architecture, Introduction to Security, Introduction to Object Oriented Programming, Software Design, Computer Networking 1

Year 2
Data Structures & Algorithms 1, Web Application Development 1, Ethical Hacking 1, Data Structures & Algorithms 2, Digital Forensics 1

Year 3
Computer Networking 2, Ethical Hacking 2, Team Project, Ethical Hacking 3, Software Development for Mobile

Year 4
Digital Forensics 2, Current and Emerging Technologies, Research Methods, Penetration Testing

For more information on the course content, download the Programme information - BSc with Honours in Ethical Hacking

How you learn and are assessed

Acquisition of knowledge is facilitated and fostered through a mixture of lectures, tutorials, practicals, directed reading and student-centred learning.  The majority of modules make use of online learning resources.  Case studies are used to illustrate real world examples and to provide an opportunity for critical analysis and evaluation.  Cognitive skills are consistently promoted and developed by means of lectures, tutorial directed reading, seminars and student-centred learning.  Within practical exercises, students are expected to evaluate their own work to ensure that products not only work, but are also fit for purpose.

Assessments are designed to develop and assess the achievement of the level of performance expected at each level.  Knowledge and understanding is assessed using projects, reports, portfolios and practical assessments.

Examination techniques

Only approximately 20% of the programme is assessed by examination. 

Entry routes

Minimum Entrance Requirements

All applicants must have a pass in Maths in any of the following: National 5 grade C or GCSE grade C/4

 ABBB  Essential subjects (one of the following):  Computer Science, Maths, Architectural Technology, Human Biology, Biology, Building Construction, Chemistry, Engineering Science, Environmental Science, Geography or Physics
A Level BCC  Essential subjects (one of the following):  Architecture, Engineering, Geology, Applied Environmental Studies, Environmental Science, Applied Science, Biology, Chemistry, Geography, Maths or Physics
Irish Highers H2H3H3H3  Essential subjects (one of the following):  Technology, Engineering, Biology, Chemistry, Construction Studies, Geography, Maths or Physics
BTEC Extended Diploma DMM
International Baccalaureate 29 Points  Essential subjects (one of the following):  Technology, Engineering, Biology, Chemistry, Construction Studies, Geography, Maths or Physics at S5 or H4
AHEAD - successful completion of the relevant stream of our AHEAD programme
SWAP - our Coming from College pages list approved SWAP courses 

Advanced Higher: ABB (to include Computer Science)
A Level: ABB (to include Computing)
BTEC Extended Diploma: D*DD IT (Networking and Systems Support)

Not sure if you are eligible for entry?

If you have the potential and motivation to study at university, regardless of your background or personal circumstances, we welcome your application.

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

If you expect to receive passes in 3 Scottish Highers (grades A-C) and have:

  • been in care, or
  • participated in a targeted aspiration-raising programme such as LIFT OFF, LEAPS, FOCUS West, or Aspire North
  • no family background of going to university, or
  • live in an area, or attend a school, where not many people go to university.

We encourage you to submit an application.

International Applicants
You must provide certified proof of your English language level (minimum requirements are listed here).  Our British Council accredited International English Foundation Course can help you reach that level or, if you would like further develop your academic English, Intensive English for Academic Purposes can help you achieve your full potential.

EU applicants:  Entry requirements can be found on our Europe pages.  Overseas (non-EU) applicants:  We're currently developing your country pages, so please email us details of your entry requirements.

Alternative Entrance Requirements
Please email us if you have other qualifications/experience not listed here.

Fees and scholarships

Fee Category Tuition Fees
Scholarships & Bursaries
Scottish and other EU students

Current fees

Other forms of support
English, Welsh and Northern Irish

Current fees

Bursaries & Scholarships
Overseas (non EU) students

Current fees

Overseas Scholarships

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

Accelerated Degree

Students who wish to undertake the accelerated degree will complete the first two years of the degree programme alongside those students following the non-accelerated route.  

Acceleration starts in May at the end of second year, the table below illustrates the difference between the two routes.

Academic Year  Non-accelerated Route  Accelerated Route
 Year 1  Term 1 (Sept-Dec) Term 1  Term 1
   Term 2 (Jan-May) Term 2  Term 2
   Term 3 (May-Aug)     
 Year 2  Term 1 (Sept-Dec) Term 3  Term 3
   Term 2 (Jan-May) Term 4  Term 4
   Term 3 (May-Aug)      Term 5
 Year 3  Term 1 (Sept-Dec) Term 5  Term 6
   Term 2 (Jan-May) Term 6  Term 7
   Term 3 (May-Aug)     Term 8
 (Honours degree completed)
 Year 4  Term 1 (Sept-Dec) Term 7  
   Term 2 (Jan-May) Term 8
(Honours degree completed) 
   Term 3 (May-Aug)    

Further info

Career prospects

The programme has a strong security testing (penetration testing) content, and many of our graduates have obtained employment as security testers with, for example, Sec-1, NCC, MWR, Firstbase and PWC.  Much of the material used in the security testing modules has been obtained from these companies and includes real-life scenarios.  Other areas of employment include more defensive security with companies including NCR Dundee, HSBC, Tesco Bank.

Industry links
The Ethical Hacking programme has many links with the security testing industry in the UK.  Guest speakers from these companies are arranged for the security relevant modules in Years 3 and 4. 

Want to know more?
Student Recruitment Office
T:  +44 (0) 1382 308080
F:  +44 (0) 1382 308081

"I thoroughly enjoyed the course and definitely recommend it. For the diversity of students and the speciality of the course – not many courses have the words ‘ethical’ or ‘hacking’ in them."

Daniel Mosca

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