Open University launches MSc in computer forensics to bridge UK skills shortage

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The Open University (OU) has announced a new MSc programme in computing it hopes will help to plug a UK skills shortage in areas such as digital forensics, insider threats and IP theft.

The principle behind the new qualification is that it is a way for candidates with the required qualifications to use the OU's distance-learning system to add to their skills without necessarily having to leave their current employment.

Gaining qualification requires amassing 180 credits from a series of 3-unit modules, including data management (Nov 2014), information security (May 2014), project management (May), software development (May), software engineering (Nov), and digital forensics (May), Network security (Nov), and Advanced routing (May).

Candidates will need to have either have a Bachelor's degree in computing or complete the OU's Postgraduate Certificate in Computing, although those with "relevant industrial experience," can also gain admission.

But it is the forensics unit that could prove the most useful to CIO and technical staff in the workplace.

"The forensics and software engineering modules are part of a targeted qualification that is responding to market demand," said OU programme director for postgraduate technologies & computing, Dr Kevin Waugh.

Senior computing lecturer Blaine Price, who helped develop the forensics module with external advice from CGI Group (formerly Logica), expanded on this theme.

"HR and IT teams are increasingly called upon to investigate the source of internal Intellectual Property leaks or the theft of information such as sales books by ex-employees who take them to rival companies. The problem is most companies lack the technical skills to do this and are often oblivious to the legal requirements to pursue these cases," he said.

"Digital forensics qualifications over the past decade have focused on preparing students for a career in niche areas such as law enforcement where open vacancies are limited. Unfortunately many of these courses are unsuited to a growing demand for these skills in business."

Demand for forensics skills was now a mainstream need, he said, The enrolment deadline for the May module in Digital Forensics is 17 April.

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