Cranfield University has become the first university in the UK to receive full certification from the UK Government Communications Headquarters, GCHQ, for a digital forensics course.
The MSc in Digital Forensics run by Cranfield Forensic Institute gained its certification at the first attempt. Course Director Dr Sarah Morris said: “We are pleased that GCHQ has given us this certification after a tough and rigorous process. We deliver a very practical degree – all of our lectures have a practical element – which is highly unusual in academic training for digital forensics.
“Our students all graduate as very able, very employable people ready to take on roles in digital forensics immediately.”
Until last year, the course was known as forensic computing. It is well established and one of the longest-running in the UK; it started teaching in 1998 and the MScs were first given in 2005.
While GCHQ has given certification to several universities for cybersecurity and information security courses, including provisional certification for Cranfield’s MSc in Cyber Defence and Information Assurance, this is the first time they have fully certified a digital forensics course.
Chris Ensor, Deputy Director Cyber Skills and Growth at GCHQ, said: “I am really pleased that Cranfield University's degree has been fully certified. Certified degrees give assurance to students and potential employers that course content is appropriate, well taught by experienced staff and rigorously assessed. We need a cyber-capable workforce both to protect the UK and to benefit fully from all that cyberspace can offer. Studying certified degrees like this one at Cranfield is one way of achieving that.”
Dr Morris believes her course was also successful because her graduates are well set up for a career in a range of government agencies as well as policing and the commercial forensic sector. She said: “Our students don’t necessarily have computing expertise and are from diverse backgrounds.
“We have people from policing, criminology, forensic science graduates as well as people with a general computing background. We ensure all of our students can analyse a range of devices to a significant depth and ability and that they can tackle devices they may not have seen before.”
She added that being part of the well-respected Cranfield Forensic Institute (CFI) also gives them an advantage. “Our students get a host of extra skills from CFI, such as access to sector experts on evidence gathering and courtroom skills.”
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