Ethical Hacking and Cyber Security MSci/BSc (Hons) with foundation year

Study level: Undergraduate
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This course aims to provide you with a strong practical and theoretical understanding of cybersecurity, hacking, digital forensics, security operations and the underlying associated computer science.

Course option

Year of entry


CU Coventry (Coventry) and
Coventry University (Coventry)

Study mode



4 years full-time
5 years sandwich

UCAS codes


Start date

September 2024
November 2024

Course overview

Our degree with foundation year could be the stepping stone you need to achieve your goals. The foundation year aims to prepare you for degree-level study and is a great way to build the confidence, skills and knowledge needed to succeed on your degree course. The degree with foundation year is only available for the BSc option.

Foundation year

This course covers a range of digital technology content including fundamental software engineering and data storage concepts, the theory behind how networks operate, devices communicate and how such networks should be designed. It also covers information technology in business and the fundamental mathematical knowledge and skills required to solve relevant problems.


The course is designed to help you develop skills in the following areas:

  • Understanding who ‘hackers’ typically are, the techniques they use to break into systems and the way we defend against them.
  • Learning how to examine computers and networks for digital artefacts, and how these can be used in a legal case, or as part of incident response.
  • Understanding how the network infrastructure connects systems, and the impact on security.
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Why you should study this course

Foundation year

  • Supports you to gain the academic skills required for degree-level study
  • Provides a grounding in key areas of digital technologies.


  • Join a thriving community of ethical hackers with opportunities to participate in societies and live ‘hackathon’ type events2.
  • Previous graduates have gone on to become security consultants, security engineers, penetration testers and other sector-specific roles.
  • Practical, hands-on approach to teaching, where you have the chance to demonstrate the theoretical aspects of the course through real-world examples.
  • Dedicated specialised learning environment - the Ethical Hacking Lab4


What you'll study

In the first year, the curriculum is shared across related courses allowing you to gain a broad grounding in the discipline before going on, in the second and third years, to specialist modules in your chosen field.   


  • The aim of this module is to equip you with the core concepts and principles of cyber security together with the methods and technologies of protecting cyber/digital assets.

    The module will cover core cyber security concepts such as the use of virtualisation, common operating systems used for security, remote access to systems, and software and systems security. 


  • The module will introduce the core fundamentals of programming for a prominent object-oriented programming language used in the industry.

    The module will cover topics such as data types, condition and control statements, documentation and testing, and an overview of various sorting and searching algorithms. 


  • The aim of this module is to equip you with an understanding of core concepts around computer networks and hardware architectures.

    The module will cover topics such as data representation, logic elements and processor structure and operation, instruction formats and addressing mode, control structures and flow (RTL), bus topology protocols and models, and basic addressing (mac vs IP). 


  • This module aims to extend your knowledge and experience of information security planning, analysis, design, implementation, review, and improvement to overcome information security challenges in an organization and broader environments. 


  • Security is more than just technical problems, there are also a wide range of legal, social and ethical factors that need to be considered. This module will introduce these ethical and legal frameworks as applied to cyber security. It will also cover the professional skills needed to succeed at university and at work. 


  • This module will cover some of core Computer Science concepts around security including mathematics, Boolean algebra and circuit design and cryptography. 


In year two, you will continue to develop the skills and knowledge you’ve learnt. We do this by embedding the following four principles into the curriculum and developing your:  

  • Technical skills – digital fluency, backed with the right academic knowledge 
  • Study skills – to be an adaptive, independent and proactive learner 
  • Professional skills – to have the behaviour and abilities to succeed in your career 
  • Global awareness – the beliefs and abilities to be a resilient, confident and motivated global citizen  


  • This module will introduce practical penetration skills, including penetration testing methodology and strategies for attacking remote systems. We will look at web and server-based vulnerabilities and how to exploit them. 


  • This module introduces the concepts of algorithm efficiency, complexity, process management, as well as information modelling, management and security. The platforms on which software is developed are considered, covering Operating System internals and their impact on good programming practice and security, including fundamental OS concepts such as process, memory and file system management. Key features of modern OS such as the creation and scheduling of multiple processes, and methods of communicating between them are also discussed. 


  • Building on the first year Networking and Architectures module, this module aims to provides you with knowledge (terminologies and concepts) of computer networks architecture, together with the core networking and security techniques. 


  • The module aims to provide you with a critical awareness of the legal framework and professional issues related to security incident response, its planning, deployment and success criteria. It should enable you to develop the ability and skill to evaluate and apply appropriate methodologies and technological solutions of performing and/or managing incident response investigations. 


  • This module will look at the fundamentals of digital forensics including evidence and data recovery. 


  • This module will give an overview of common web technologies including HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. It will cover the protocols used to drive the web such as HTTP, SSL, REsT, and the use of API’s along with an understanding of the database technologies that store information. 


There’s no better way to find out what you love doing than trying it out for yourself, which is why a work placement2 can often be beneficial. Work placements usually occur between your second and final year of study. They’re a great way to help you explore your potential career path and gain valuable work experience, whilst developing transferable skills for the future.  

If you choose to do a work placement year, you will pay a reduced tuition fee3 of £1,250. For more information, please go to the fees and funding section. During this time, you will receive guidance from your employer or partner institution, along with your assigned academic mentor who will ensure you have the support you need to complete your placement.  


  • This module2provides you with an opportunity to reflect upon and gain experience for an approved placement undertaken during your programme. A placement should usually be at least 26 weeks or equivalent; however, each placement will be considered on its own merits, having regard to the ability to achieve the learning outcomes. 


  • This module2  provides you with an opportunity to reflect upon and gain experience for an approved international study/work placement undertaken during your programme. A work/study placement should usually be at least 26 weeks or equivalent; however, each placement will be considered on its own merits, having regard to the ability to achieve the learning outcomes. 


Year three aims to bring you to the level to enter the world of work by consolidating your knowledge and skills from year one and two. You could also work on a large final project in an area of your interest, with the support of a mentor.   


  • This module will cover penetration testing methodology, including accessing, manipulating and exploring networks and systems. Countermeasures are also covered, as well as a structured methodology in which this can be reported along with an evaluation of security mechanisms. 


  • The module investigates information assurance models and addresses current implementations of security audits such as COBIT and PCI-DSS. It will be delivered through taught lectures, reinforced by work on case studies that will incorporate practical applications of audit frameworks and analysis of the results. 


  • This module aims to provide you with a thorough comprehension of the concepts, theory and application of cryptographic techniques to cyber security. Additionally, you should develop your experience of appropriate cryptographic tools and libraries. Advanced topics and the status of cryptographic research will also be studied. 


  • The module will cover topics such as forming research questions, project selection/formation, scoping and planning, critical review, state of the art/literature review. It will also consider research methods including quantitative and qualitative, initial development/implementation, project concept evaluation, professional and ethical considerations. 


  • This module is aimed at supporting you during the dissertation writing process. 


  • Choose one of the following three optional modules

    • Reverse Engineering and Exploit Development – 20 credits 
      This module will focus on exploit and malware analysis, looking at reverse engineering techniques, exploit development, and obfuscation/antivirus evasion.
    • Secure Network Design and Management – 20 credits 
      This module will focus on the design and management of networked systems and technologies.
    • Advanced Digital and Network Forensics – 20 credits 
      This model will look at advanced forensic concepts such and mobile network, cloud and emerging technologies. 


If you meet the criteria, you could choose to take an additional fourth year master's option3, which will deepen your knowledge and expertise.


  • This module focuses on risk assessment and the performance of security audits primarily in accordance with the guidelines of ISO27002:2005(BS17799). 


  • This module provides you with a thorough comprehension of the concepts, theory and application of cryptographic techniques to cyber security. 


  • This module seeks to provide you with an appreciation of information security concepts and an understanding of how they are applied using Internet of Things (IoT) and Mobile Device (MD) technologies. 


  • This module aims to develop your critical knowledge in the field of automotive cybersecurity, which poses a major challenge to connected and autonomous vehicles. 


  • This module introduces you to the concepts used in neural networks and their application in solving real-world problems. 


  • This module will introduce technical security controls used to prevent, detect, and recover from security violations at the application or system level. 


  • In this module you should exercise and extend your skills in gathering, understanding and critically evaluating literature, performing research, and analysing findings. You will undertake a research project in cyber security or related subject areas. 


The foundation year offers an introduction to your chosen subject and supports you to develop the skills required for degree-level study.


  • This module aims to provide you with the fundamental mathematical knowledge and skills required to solve relevant problems while developing analytical and problem-solving skills. You should also be equipped to turn real-world problems into mathematical problems and present mathematical and logical arguments. Concepts covered include basic algebraic properties, trigonometry, computation of areas and volumes of basic shapes, an introduction to Calculus including computation of limits derivatives and integrals. Upon successful completion of the module, you will have an awareness of many of the mathematical techniques required to tackle everyday problems in related disciplines.


  • This module aims to provide you with an understanding of fundamental software engineering and data storage concepts. Upon successful completion of the module you will leave with experience of working with interconnected software systems and sufficient knowledge of databases and a programming language. During the module assessment you will be required to create an application to meet a specified brief, as a result you will develop skills in requirements elicitation, documentation, and software and database design. You will also be assessed on your ability to read and understand code and recall programming principles from their body of knowledge.


  • This module aims to provide you with an understanding of the theory behind how networks operate and devices communicate across a range of media and how such networks should be designed. Upon successful completion, you should have developed a greater understanding and appreciation of the complexities of one of the most ubiquitous systems in the modern connected world. Teaching and learning is structured around industry-standard qualifications such as CompTIA Network+ and entry-level networking certification such as those offered by Cisco Systems Inc.


  • This module seeks to provide you with an introduction to business needs and how these are supported by information technologies. You will explore how businesses can embark on transformation projects to leverage supporting technologies and services to provide better value to customers and a greater return on investment. In doing so you will perform objective analysis using recognised techniques to support a proposed transformation project while respecting relevant legislation and regulation, presenting research and conclusions in a variety of academic manners.


We regularly review our course content, to make it relevant and current for the benefit of our students. For these reasons, course modules may be updated.

How you'll learn

The foundation year programme is focused on applied learning geared to high-intensity teaching and study throughout the programme, requiring full commitment from students. The delivery of course content is a blend of lectures, tutorials and online learning.

There are no end of year exams. Instead, learning is assessed through coursework and phase tests, which is more reflective of our learning model. The learning outcomes of modules, assignments and projects will be clearly stated. Your work will be marked according to how well you achieve these learning outcomes and your final feedback will refer to each outcome, as well as providing an overall percentage grade.

Teaching contact hours

You can expect up to 20 hours of learning activities per week, made up of face-to-face teaching, individual and group tutorials, online classes and independent learning.

Additionally, you will be expected to undertake significant self-directed study of approximately 30 hours each week, depending on the demands of individual modules.


Assessment methods vary and may include practical class and project performance, written practical reports, project thesis, oral presentations, tutorial tasks and assessments which generally take place at the end of each six-week block.

Your course will be based on a series of lectures, with associated seminars and project-based practical classes.

In addition, your personal tutor will review and discuss your progress with you and provide advice. You will be expected to engage in both class and online activities and discussions. Each module will also require you to participate in additional guided reading and self-directed study, to reinforce the learning gained from timetabled sessions.

We believe that the best way of learning is through doing - applying the theoretical concepts to practical problems. Throughout the course, emphasis is placed on the practical development of work, with a significant portion of your time being spent on assisted lab tasks, which may involve live practical hacking challenges, seminars discussing topics such as cryptography and secrecy or project-based classes, which may involve more in-depth work developing secure systems in hostile environments2

Teaching contact hours

We understand that everyone learns differently, so each of our courses will consist of structured teaching sessions, which can include:

  • On campus lectures, seminars and workshops
  • Group work
  • Self-directed learning
  • Work placement opportunities2.

If you would like more information, you can request information about teaching hours.

Part of university life is undertaking self-directed learning. During a typical week, you will have time that allows you to work independently to apply the skills and knowledge you have learnt in taught or facilitated sessions to your projects or assignment briefs. This self-directed learning allows you to use your research skills, consolidate your knowledge or undertake collaborative group work.

As an innovative and enterprising institution, the university may seek to utilise emerging technologies within the student experience. For all courses (whether on-campus, blended, or distance learning), the university may deliver certain contact hours and assessments via online technologies and methods.

Since COVID-19, we have delivered our courses in a variety of forms, in line with public authority guidance, decisions, or orders and we will continue to adapt our delivery as appropriate. Whether on campus or online, our key priority is staff and student safety.


This course will be assessed using a variety of methods which could vary depending upon the module.

Assessment methods include:

  • Formal examinations
  • Phase tests
  • Essays
  • Group work
  • Presentations
  • Reports
  • Projects
  • Coursework
  • Exams
  • Individual Assignments
  • Laboratories

The Coventry University Group assessment strategy ensures that our courses are fairly assessed and allows us to monitor student progression towards achieving the intended learning outcomes. 

Entry requirements

Typical offer for 2024/25 entry.

80 UCAS tariff points. All foundation courses require 5 GCSEs at A-C/4-9 including Maths and English, and at least one A2 level or a BTEC equivalent qualification.

If you don’t fulfil the entry criteria your application may be considered on an individual basis, taking into account any work experience, other qualifications and/or any training you have completed. Speak to one of our advisers today to find out how we can help you.

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Contextual offers and Fair Access Scheme

If you meet the criteria for our Fair Access Scheme, you could automatically receive a contextual offer that may be up to 24 UCAS points lower than our standard entry requirements. View the criteria for our Fair Access Scheme.

Got higher grades? Have you considered direct entry to the degree without foundation year?

Fees and funding

2024/25 tuition fees.

Foundation year

Student Full-time Part-time
UK, Ireland*, Channel Islands or Isle of Man £7,950 Not available
International/EU Not currently available*** Not available


Student Full-time Part-time
UK, Ireland*, Channel Islands or Isle of Man £9,250 per year Not available
International/EU Not currently available*** Not available

Please note: UK (home) tuition fees for the degree course years will be charged at the current Coventry University UK (home) degree fee level. This was set at £9,250 for the 23/24 academic year.

If you choose to do a work placement2, you should consider travel and living costs to cover this. There is also a tuition fee3 of £1,250 that will cover your academic support throughout your placement year.

For advice and guidance on tuition fees and student loans visit our Undergraduate Finance page and see The University’s Tuition Fee and Refund Terms and Conditions.

Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching, assessments, facilities and support services. There may be additional costs not covered by this fee such as accommodation and living costs, recommended reading books, stationery, printing and re-assessments should you need them. Find out what's included in your tuition costs.

The following are additional costs not included in the tuition fees:

  • Any optional overseas field trips or visits: £400+ per trip.
  • Any costs associated with securing, attending or completing a placement (whether in the UK or abroad).

*Irish student fees

The rights of Irish residents to study in the UK are preserved under the Common Travel Area arrangement. If you are an Irish student and meet the residency criteria, you can study in England, pay the same level of tuition fees as English students and utilise the Tuition Fee Loan.

**This course with foundation year is not currently available to international students. If you do not meet the entry requirements to directly join year 1 of the degree, please take a look at our International Pathways Programme for additional options.


Our foundation years are taught at CU Coventry’s Mile Lane building, a short walk from the city centre. You’re part of the university from day one, so during your foundation year you’ll have access to the wider facilities at Coventry University. Once you successfully complete your foundation year, you'll transfer over to studying your chosen degree at Coventry University, where you'll be taught on campus in the relevant academic buildings.

Located on our Mile Lane campus, you will have access to our Library and Learning Services (LLS), fully equipped seminar rooms and IT suites4. You can also take advantage of reading rights in Coventry University’s Lanchester Library, make use of sport centre facilities and receive full membership to Your Students' Union.

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Mile Lane

The campus is home to an on-site library with bookable one-to-one academic writing service and library support sessions, fully equipped seminar rooms, open-access study areas, a café and an IT suite. Our labs contain industry-standard equipment so that you learn using the same equipment as many industry professionals.

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The Hub

At The Hub you'll find the Health and Wellbeing Centre, the Students’ Union and Square One (which provides entertainment from quiz nights to live music), the Spirituality and Faith Centre, Tank Studio, Careers Office and a fantastic food court.

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Lanchester Library

You will have full reading rights in Coventry University’s Lanchester Library. The library is open 24/7, 364 days a year and has many study spaces, including group and silent areas. It also currently offers touchdown computers and free-to-loan laptops.

On-site facilities4 offer you high-specification learning environments, which benefit from extensive social learning facilities, well-appointed laboratories, lecturing facilities and classrooms, facilitating our innovative teaching methods across a diverse suite of undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

  • Ethical Hacking Lab: a course-specific room with custom operating systems and software, which allows you to reconfigure the setup in order to practice your hacking techniques.
  • Networking Lab: which allows you to build and test the physical network.

Careers and opportunities

Upon successful completion of the course, you will be able to:

  • Understand, categorise and discuss threats to computer systems and services.
  • Apply sound investigations and reporting procedures to identify and report issues in systems, or as part of a forensic investigation.
  • Apply research and problem-solving skills to a security-related project. 

Past graduates of Coventry University have found work in penetration testing, digital forensics and network security. Working for organisations such Nettitude Cyber Security Services, Janet, the BBC and the UK Government. Other students have gone on to successful careers outside of security, in software development roles.

Our graduates often come back to give guest talks, meet (and often recruit) the current students and take part in extracurricular events (subject to availability)2.

Where our graduates work

  • Nettitude Cyber Security Services
  • BBC
  • UK Government
  • Janet
  • Barclays Bank.

How to apply

  • Study location

    The Foundation Year study route will be delivered by CU, part of the Coventry University Group, for and on behalf of Coventry University.

    If you choose to study at CU Coventry for your Foundation Year, then your learning will be based at CU Coventry. Mile Lane, Coventry. Subject to meeting requirements you will then transition to the relevant Coventry University subject faculty building for your progression degree.

    Coventry University together with Coventry University London, Coventry University Wrocław, CU Coventry, CU London, CU Scarborough, and Coventry University Online come together to form part of the Coventry University Group (the University) with all degrees awarded by Coventry University. 


    The majority of our courses have been formally recognised by professional bodies, which means the courses have been reviewed and tested to ensure they reach a set standard. In some instances, studying on an accredited course can give you additional benefits such as exemptions from professional exams (subject to availability, fees may apply). Accreditations, partnerships, exemptions and memberships shall be renewed in accordance with the relevant bodies’ standard review process and subject to the university maintaining the same high standards of course delivery.

    2UK and international opportunities

    Please note that we are unable to guarantee any UK or international opportunities (whether required or optional) such as internships, work experience, field trips, conferences, placements or study abroad opportunities and that all such opportunities may be unpaid and/or subject to additional costs (which could include, but is not limited to, equipment, materials, bench fees, studio or facilities hire, travel, accommodation and visas), competitive application, availability and/or meeting any applicable travel, public authority guidance, decisions or orders and visa requirements. To ensure that you fully understand any visa requirements, please contact the International Office.

    3Tuition fees

    The University will charge the tuition fees that are stated in the above table for the first Academic Year of study. The University will review tuition fees each year. For UK (home) students, if Parliament permit an increase in tuition fees, the University may increase fees for each subsequent year of study in line with any such changes. Note that any increase is expected to be in line with inflation.

    For international students, we may increase fees each year, but such increases will be no more than 5% above inflation. If you defer your course start date or have to extend your studies beyond the normal duration of the course (e.g. to repeat a year or resit examinations) the University reserves the right to charge you fees at a higher rate and/or in accordance with any legislative changes during the additional period of study.


    Facilities are subject to availability. Access to some facilities (including some teaching and learning spaces) may vary from those advertised and/or may have reduced availability or restrictions where the university is following public authority guidance, decisions or orders.

    Student Contract

    By accepting your offer of a place and enrolling with us, a Student Contract will be formed between you and the university. A copy of the current 2024/2025 contract is available on the website. The Contract details your rights and the obligations you will be bound by during your time as a student and contains the obligations that the university will owe to you. You should read the Contract before you accept an offer of a place and before you enrol at the university.

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