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The Student Insider

Learn while you earn to secure your next role in Cyber


Written by
Allie Fitzgibbon

As technology continues to develop at pace, and our reliance on it only increases, the threat of cyber-attack is ever-present. The World Economic Forum found that 59% of businesses would find it difficult to respond to a cyber security incident due to a shortage of skills. And with the workforce gap widening by more than 25% from 2021 to last year, the problem is only increasing. So with cyber security professionals highly sought after, there’s never been a better time to upskill and gain a qualification from a globally recognised university. We spoke to four current students about why they chose the MSc Cyber Security from University of London.

A man working at a computer on multiple screens.

The University of London has partnered with online learning platform, Coursera, to offer a cutting-edge Cyber Security programme. With academic direction from leading academics at Royal Holloway, students can choose to complete a postgraduate certificate, postgraduate diploma, or gain the full master’s qualification.

Lee is Director of Cyber SecDevOps and Engineering in the Enhanced Cyber Security Team at British Telecom. He decided that gaining a formal qualification would open up more job opportunities.

“When I started getting some work in the Middle East, I had to get a letter of recommendation from the British Government to rubber-stamp my credentials. But it became apparent very quickly that this is a field that I like working in, helping organisations around the world, and a big blocker for me was going to be my educational background. That's why I decided to pursue a master’s.”

Despite not having an undergraduate degree, with more than 20 years’ industry experience Lee was able to join the programme at master’s level immediately. “I'm finding it extremely useful in my day-to-day job,” he said. “I’d like to think I know quite a bit in my field, but I do not know everything, so it's nice to always be learning. It’s about continuously improving your knowledge and being better at what you do.”

Max has worked in cyber security for around eight years in various companies, creating tools for cyber security specialists. He chose the MSc Cyber Security because he realised having a specialist degree would give him the edge in a competitive field.  

“I need more knowledge about cyber security in general, because if I’m working for these guys, I need to understand what they do,” Max explained.

After he finishes his studies, Max is excited about the wealth of opportunities available. “Cyber security isn’t just for cyber security companies – banks and fintech companies depend on it, for example. They need people who know how to protect against hardware attacks and malware, because it's usually not the developers’ first priority. So, if I have that cyber security knowledge, I can apply for many kinds of job in that area.”

Vashish is an IT Engineer at Amazon and mentioned his MSc during his interview for the role. He is keen to progress internally within the Fortune 500 company and feels having a qualification from a world-renowned university will give him the tools he needs.

For him, the flexibility of studying online suits his busy lifestyle.

“I still have time to go running, play football and visit Prague,” Vashish explained. "The nicest part for me is about it being online. You can cook your food and listen to lectures at the same time. I take one or two hours every day just to keep up with my studies during my lunch break, in the morning before going to work, or after work.” 

Vashish also enjoys the supportive community on Coursera. He said: “I’m going to reach out to lecturers and people around if I need help. You get a lot of help. The people are available here, they are fast responders on the discussion groups.” 

Philadelphia-based IT engineer Michael is already in the Cyber Security industry, working with small government clients and banks. He hopes to boost his earning and career prospects with a postgraduate degree.

"I’m over 40 and I think I might want to change my career,” Michael explained. “I still want to work in cyber security. I've done it for a long time, but I see the master’s programme from the University of London as a doorway to moving into either management or research and shifting my career to something that is not as stressful as dealing with live, active intrusions.” 

Michael had already studied a number of previous courses via Coursera and he saw this as a big advantage of the University of London programme. He emphasised the need to be self-motivated to get the most from online learning.

"It's a good programme, but what I learned from talking to one of the professors is that you have to be self-motivated and hardworking. You can't wait for somebody to do it for you. You’ve got to do it yourself."

Dr Fauzia Idrees, Associate Professor in Information Security at Royal Holloway, University of London, is the Programme’s Director. She explained why studying the MSc Cyber Security supports people already working in the industry, as well as those looking for a new career.

Dr Idrees said: “Cyber security is a challenging and constantly evolving field so continuing professional development and training is essential. Whether you are new to the industry or have been working in cyber previously, this course is based on the very latest, cutting-edge research of Royal Holloway’s Information Security Group (ISG). Your learning will be at the forefront of the ever-evolving attack landscape and you can apply your new expertise to your work immediately.

“Thanks to our global community of students, you will be part of a network of like-minded peers and can learn from each other’s diverse experience and backgrounds.”

Secure the next step in your Cyber career with the MSc Cyber Security from the University of London.