School of Engineering and Digital Arts

Information Security and Biometrics

Course Image



The Information Security and Biometrics MSc offers an advanced level of learning and provides you with a detailed understanding of the theories, concepts and techniques in the design, development and effective use of secure information systems.

Secure information systems are critically important to modern day businesses and societies. From banking systems and medical systems to power infrastructures or a simple home PC, security is vitally important as they are usually all interconnected directly or indirectly via the Internet or telephony system.

This Master’s programme combines modern engineering and technology with digital media and equips students with the skill set to develop modern security systems with an emphasis on biometric identity management. Graduates of this programme are then capable of adapting to changes in the field and of leading it in innovation.

Course structure

This programme is taught jointly with the School of Computing. Both schools are at the forefront of research in their areas.

The School of Engineering and Digital Arts has an excellent reputation for research in various aspects of biometrics, including individual biometric modalities, the management of complexity in biometric systems and the testing and evaluation of biometric systems; while the School of Computing has participated in the development of X.509 international standard and the first X.509 privilege management infrastructure (PMI) was built by members of this school.

This Master's programme offers an advanced level of learning by providing students with a thorough understanding of the theories, concepts and techniques for the design, development and effective use of secure information systems, and producing graduates who are capable of adapting to changes in the field and leading it in innovation.

The course is designed for practitioners, professionals and graduates with an interest in information security, access control technologies, and application domains using biometric identification and verification systems.

Student profiles

See what our students have to say.

Example projects

View examples of student projects for this course.


The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This list is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.  Most programmes will require you to study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also have the option to take modules from other programmes so that you may customise your programme and explore other subject areas that interest you.

COMP8810 - Object-Oriented Programming

This module provides an introduction to object-oriented programming using the popular Java language. It is designed for beginners who have not studied computer programming before. By the end students will be able to develop simple programmes using Java. (Note that students with substantial prior experience of programming take module CO871 Advanced Java for Programmers[1] instead.)

. Computer architecture, operating systems and application software.

?Software development tools (editors, compilers, etc)

?The wider software development process

?Programming paradigms and languages

?The concept of algorithms

?Sequences of statements and order of execution

?Classes, objects and packages (what they are and how to use them)

?Primitive data types, variables and expressions

?Methods and parameters

?Control structures (selection, repetition)

?Input and output

?Coding style and inline documentation

?Online documentation

Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).

Read more

COMP8710 - Advanced Java for Programmers

This module provides for well-qualified computer science students entering the MSc programme from a range of backgrounds. These students will have good programming skills but will not necessarily have used Java or another object-oriented language extensively. This module seeks to ensure that students have the Java and object-oriented design skills necessary for the rest of their programme.

Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).

Read more

COMP8990 - System Security


Federated identity management: OpenID, SAML, Liberty Alliance, ...

Privacy protection

Viruses and worms


Secure architectures

Formal verification methods

E-mail security: SMTP-MIME, S/MIME

Secure software development methods and tools, common criteria, code inspections, code coverage tools, code evaluation tools etc.

Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).

Read more

COMP8340 - Trust, Security and Privacy Management

This module investigates the whole process of security management. A holistic view of security management is taken, starting with risk management and the formulation of security policies. Technical subjects include a description of the various security models, and showing how authorisation policies can be automatically enforced. The legal and privacy issues associated with information management are also addressed, as are the usability issues of security technologies. Finally, the module concludes by investigating how security has already been inbuilt into some existing applications, and how security issues will effect the uptake of ubiquitous computing systems

Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).

Read more

COMP8410 - Computing Law, Contracts and Professional Responsibility

Synopsis of curriculum.

? Professional issues and professional organisations.

? Data privacy legislation, and other UK laws relating to the professional use of computer systems.Criminal law relating to networked computer use, including new Anti-Terrorism legislation;and their application.

? Intellectual Property Rights, including Copyright, Patent and explicit IPR Legislation.? Contract Law, with a specific focus on vendor-client contracts, and related issues.

? Health & Safety issues.

? Computer-based Projects, including the vendor-client relationship and professional responsibilities, and examples of real-life contracts that have exposed vendor or supplier to unacceptable commercial risks.

However, as this is a rapidly evolving field, specific topics will change from year to year, as both computer law and professional responsibilities continue to evolve.

Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).

Read more

EENG8580 - Advanced Pattern Recognition

Lecture Syllabus


Analysis of Bayesian Classification; Feature selection strategies using genetic algorithms and Principal Component Analysis; Multiple classifier combination strategies. Intelligent and dynamically adaptable classification techniques; Multi-source biometric systems and score normalisation techniques.



Four, six-hour assessed practical workshops.

Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).

Read more

EENG8750 - Advanced Sensors & Instrumentation Systems

This module covers modern sensors and advanced measurement systems for a diverse range of industrial applications. General measurement principles and concepts are introduced. The module focuses on digital imaging based and intelligent measurement and monitoring techniques. Real life industrial case studies are included to enhance students learning experience in the design and applications of cutting edge instrumentation technologies.

Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).

Read more

DIGM8440 - Fundamentals of Image Analysis

Lecture Syllabus

Fundamentals of Image Processing

General introduction to digital image processing; image acquisition, quantisation and representation; Affine transforms; image enhancement techniques: contrast manipulation, binarisation, noise removal (spatial and frequency domain); edge detection techniques; image segmentation: edge-based, region- based, watershed; Hough transform; image feature extraction; advanced image processing: morphological operations, colour image processing, various image transforms (Fourier, wavelet, etc).

Fundamentals of Pattern Recognition

Patterns and pattern classification, and the role of classification in a variety of application scenarios, including security and biometrics. Basic concepts: pattern descriptors, pattern classes; invariance and normalisation. Feature-based analysis. Texture analysis. The classification problem and formal approaches. Basic decision theory and the Bayesian classifier. Cost and risk and their relationship; rejection margin and error-rate trade-off. Canonical forms of classifier description. Estimation of class- conditional distributions; bivariate and multivariate analysis. Euclidean and Mahalanobis distance metrics and minimum distance classifiers. Parametric and non-parametric classification strategies. Linear discriminant analysis. Clustering approaches, and relationship between classifier realisations. Practical case studies. Introduction to non-classical techniques such as neural network classification.

Security Applications and Image Analysis

Signature authentication and analysis, Digital watermarking, Content hidden in Images and Video, Steganography. Image forensics.

Implementation Essentials

Programming and data analysis using MatLab and other software tools as appropriate. Introduction to practical work using MatLab. Students not familiar with Matlab programming will be provided with appropriate introductory material before this lecture.



Assessed Workshops to support coursework as well as to introduce students to practical and leading-edge applications of image analysis in security applications.

Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).

Read more

COMP8760 - Computer Security

? A study of cryptographic algorithms including symmetric and asymmetric techniques and the distinction between encryption and signatures.

? Security mechanisms used with operating systems, including: access control lists and capabilities. Trusted operating systems and common criteria for evaluation.

? Problems of network security including wiretap, replay, masquerade and denial of service. Mechanisms to provide security such as firewalls and VPNs.

? Viruses and worms.

? Distributed Mechanisms, including client authentication (Needham-Schroeder, Kerberos and others); public key infrastructures and certification, with treatment of chains and authority, and the problem of revocation.

? Digital rights management systems: CSS, OMA DRM. Using digital watermarking techniques for digital rights management.

? Security of IEEE 802.11 networks (aka Wi-Fi), presentation and discussion of their security protocols: WEP, WPA, WPA2, IEEE 802.11i and RSN.

Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).

Read more

EENG8570 - Biometric Technologies

Lecture Syllabus

Fundamentals of Biometric Systems:

Biometrics and biometrics systems; Biometric modalities; Components of a biometric system;Biometrics sample acquisition, transformation, & normalisation; Introduction to characteristics of some specific key modalities including face recognition, iris recognition, handwritten signature verification, fingerprint processing; Errors, error sources, and error handling in identification systems; Concept of multimodal systems: accuracy, flexibility, usability, inclusion and exception handling. Characterising human behaviour in biometrics-based systems. Relationships with image and signal processing and pattern recognition techniques. Social issues, privacy, and trust.

Biometric Technologies:

Implementation of biometric systems. Examples of systems using the major modalities. Analysis of modality specific features and feature extraction, selection and classification strategies. State of the art in sensor technologies; Spoofing and counter-measures.



Four six-hour assessed practical workshops.

Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).

Read more

EENG8900 - MSc Project

A major practical system will be developed either in an industrial context or within the department. There are no formal lectures - students will undertake the work in their own time under the regular supervision of a member of the academic staff and, where appropriate, industrial collaborators.

Credits: 60 credits (30 ECTS credits).

Read more


The project module is examined by a presentation and dissertation. The Research Methods and Project Design module is examined by several components of continuous assessment. The other modules are assessed by examinations and smaller components of continuous assessment. MSc students must gain credit from all the modules. For the PDip, you must gain at least 120 credits in total, and pass certain modules to meet the learning outcomes of the PDip programme.

Programme aims

This programme aims to:

  • produce graduate engineers with a broad understanding of how to provide effective information security, and how to develop and use modern security systems, with a particular emphasis on biometric identity management
  • equip trained engineers with the necessary system development skills to allow them to adapt to a dynamic and fast-changing industrial environment
  • provide you with proper academic guidance and welfare support
  • create an atmosphere of co-operation and partnership between staff and students, and offer you an environment where you can develop your potential.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • information security and biometrics (including the importance of taking a systems-wide approach to maintaining information security) and an awareness of developing technologies in this field
  • mathematical and computer models for analysis of information security and biometric systems (including  the design and analysis of modern systems for encryption, authentication, authorisation and identification)
  • design processes relevant to technologies such as networks and pattern classification and supporting methodologies such as system design and software engineering
  • ethical and legal issues, relevant standards and the mechanisms by which such standards are agreed
  • the current industrial context in which biometric and secure systems are developed and employed
  • extensive knowledge of characteristics of equipment, processes, algorithms and products, such as encryption systems, face and finger-print recognition systems and biometric sensors.

Intellectual skills

You develop intellectual skills in:

  • how to think critically, reason and reflect
  • the ability to produce a specification of the operation of a complex system, based on an understanding of the component parts
  • the ability to undertake critical appraisal of a candidate system design and reflect upon its merits
  • the ability to use fundamental knowledge to explore new and emerging technologies
  • the ability to understand the limitations of mathematical and computer-based problem-solving and assess the impact in particular cases
  • the ability to extract data pertinent to an unfamiliar problem and apply it in the solution
  • the ability to apply engineering techniques taking account of commercial and industrial constraints.

Subject-specific skills

You gain subject-specific skills in:

  • the ability to analyse the information security requirements of an organisation
  • the ability to analyse and comprehend a biometrically-based secure system engineering problem, using appropriate formal analysis methods
  • the ability to apply knowledge of design processes in unfamiliar situations and to generate innovative designs to fulfil new needs, particularly in the fields of complex biometric and secure systems
  • the ability to select and employ appropriate development tools for modern biometric and secure systems
  • the ability to select, install and configure different security components to work together to form a complex security system
  • the use of appropriate software tools, techniques and packages to produce and develop security systems, including biometrically-based ones
  • the ability to devise tests of a software system through experiment and simulation and to critically appraise the results
  • the use of software development kits and tools to analyse problems and develop solutions.

Transferable skills

You gain the following transferable skills:

  • the ability to generate, analyse, present and interpret data
  • use of information and communications technology
  • personal and interpersonal skills, working as a member of a team
  • an ability to communicate effectively, in writing, verbally and through drawings
  • the ability for critical thinking, reasoning and reflection
  • the ability to learn effectively for the purpose of continuing professional development.
  • the ability to manage time and resources within an individual and group project.

Study support

Postgraduate resources

Students on the Information Security and Biometrics Master’s course have access to state-of-the-art biometrics equipment, which can be used for studying the characteristics of the different biometric modalities introduced during the course.


As a postgraduate student, you are part of a thriving research community and receive support through a wide-ranging programme of individual supervision, specialised research seminars, general skills training programmes, and general departmental colloquia, usually with external speakers. We encourage you to attend and present your work at major conferences, as well as taking part in our internal conference and seminar programmes.

Dynamic publishing culture

Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. Recent contributions include: IEEE Transactions; IET Journals; Electronics Letters; Applied Physics; Computers in Human Behaviour.


We have developed the programme with a number of industrial organisations, which means that successful students will be in a strong position to build long-term careers in this important discipline.

The School of Engineering and Digital Arts has an excellent record of student employability. We are committed to enhancing the employability of all our students, to equip you with the skills and knowledge to succeed in a competitive, fast-moving, knowledge-based economy.

Graduates who can show that they have developed transferable skills and valuable experience are better prepared to start their careers and are more attractive to potential employers. Within the School of Engineering and Digital Arts, you can develop the skills and capabilities that employers seek. These include problem solving, independent thought, report-writing, time management, leadership skills, team-working and good communication.

Kent has an excellent record for postgraduate employment: over 96% of our postgraduate students who graduated in 2015 found a job or further study opportunity within six months.

Building on Kent’s success as the region’s leading institution for student employability, we offer many opportunities for you to gain worthwhile experience and develop the specific skills and aptitudes that employers value.

Entry requirements

A 2.2 or higher honours degree in electronics, computing or a subject with a strong IT component.

Research areas

Intelligent Interactions

The Intelligent Interactions group has interests in all aspects of information engineering and human-machine interactions. It was formed in 2014 by the merger of the Image and Information Research Group and the Digital Media Research Group.

The group has an international reputation for its work in a number of key application areas. These include: image processing and vision, pattern recognition, interaction design, social, ubiquitous and mobile computing with a range of applications in security and biometrics, healthcare, e-learning, computer games, digital film and animation.

  • Social and Affective Computing
  • Assistive Robotics and Human-Robot Interaction
  • Brain-Computer Interfaces
  • Mobile, Ubiquitous and Pervasive Computing
  • Sensor Networks and Data Analytics
  • Biometric and Forensic Technologies
    Behaviour Models for Security
  • Distributed Systems Security (Cloud Computing, Internet of Things)
  • Advanced Pattern Recognition (medical imaging, document and handwriting recognition, animal biometrics)
  • Computer Animation, Game Design and Game Technologies
  • Virtual and Augmented Reality
  • Digital Arts, Virtual Narratives.

Staff research

Dr Eerke Boiten: Senior Lecturer

Cyber security, including the use of formal methods, cryptography, privacy and data ethics. Refinement.


Professor David Chadwick: Professor of Information Systems Security

Public key infrastructures; privilege management infrastructures; trust management; identity management; privacy management; policy based authorisation; cloud security; autonomic access controls and internet security research.


Dr Farzin Deravi: Reader in Information Engineering

Pattern recognition; information fusion; computer vision; image processing: image coding; fractals and self-similarity; biometrics; bio-signals; assistive technologies.


Professor Michael Fairhurst: Professor of Computer Vision

Image analysis; computer vision; handwriting analysis; biometrics and security; novel classifier architectures; medical image analysis and diagnostics; document processing.


Dr Richard Guest: Senior Lecturer & Deputy Head of School

Image processing; biometrics technologies including usability, cybermetric linkages and standardisation; automated analysis of handwritten data; document processing.


Dr Sanaul Hoque: Lecturer in Secure Systems Engineering

Computer vision; OCR; biometrics; security and encryption; multi-expert fusion and document modelling.


Dr Gareth Howells: Reader in Secure Electronic Systems

Biometric security and pattern classification techniques especially deriving encryption keys from operating characteristics of electronic circuits and systems.


Dr Andy King: Reader in Program Analysis

Abstract interpretation, logic programming and security.


Dr Rogerio de Lemos: Senior Lecturer

Software engineering for self-adaptive systems: dynamic generation of management processes, abstractions for supporting self-adaptability and self-organisation, resilience evaluation; self-adaptive dependable and secure systems; architecting dependable systems: abstractions for fault tolerance, and verification and validation of dependable software architectures; software development for safety-critical systems; dependability and bio-inspired computing.


Dr Konstantinos Sirlantzis: Senior Lecturer in Intelligent Systems

Pattern recognition; multiple classifier systems; artificial intelligence techniques; neural networks, genetic algorithms, and other biologically inspired computing paradigms; image processing; multimodal biometric models; handwriting recognition; numerical stochastic optimisation algorithms; nonlinear dynamics and chaos theory; Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) methods for sensor data fusion.


Professor Simon Thompson: Professor of Logic and Computation

Functional programming in Haskell, OCaml and Erlang; refactoring functional programs: tool building, theory and practice; dependently-typed functional programming; testing of complex and concurrent systems using properties; property extraction from test suites. 


Gerald Tripp: Lecturer

Techniques for the analysis and control of high-speed packet networks, including system monitoring and network intrusion detection; use of special-purpose hardware and firmware designs to perform high-speed string and regular expression matching.


The University of Kent makes every effort to ensure that the information contained in its publicity materials is fair and accurate and to provide educational services as described. However, the courses, services and other matters may be subject to change. Full details of our terms and conditions can be found at:

School of Engineering and Digital Arts, Jennison Building, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NT

Enquiries: contact us

Last Updated: 23/01/2017