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Cybercrime and Digital Investigation MSc

Learn about the course below
October 2020
EU/INT induction: September 2020
1 year full-time
2 years part-time
£8,500 (UK/EU) *
£14,000 (INT) *
Course leader
Tine Munk

We’re planning to teach through a flexible combination of online and face to face learning for the first few months of the new academic year. If you’re thinking about starting with us in autumn 2020 or spring 2021, check back for more detail on arrangements for this course in July and August, and see our current plans for teaching and learning.

As our lives become increasingly digitised the scope and potential impact of cybercrime is becoming ever broader. In both the business and personal worlds, cyber criminals have the ability to cause considerable harm from remote locations, with numerous industry reports* estimating that the global cost of cybercrime has grown to rival that of the illegal drugs trade. From financial theft to child abuse, cybercrime can take many forms, and the need for skilled professionals capable of tackling these problems will only grow as smart, connected devices increasingly become the norm.

Why study MSc Cybercrime and Digital Investigation at Middlesex University?

This master's degree is designed to provide you with an understanding of the criminological, legal and research context of cybercrime. Furthermore, it aims to equip you with an understanding of computing skills and capabilities that will help to respond to online threats to personal information as well as to organisational environments.

This makes it the ideal postgraduate qualification for students and professionals seeking a specialist role in a community or support service environment, such as victim support services, the police force, child protection, offender services, as well as corporate environments where there is a need to prevent and respond to cybercrime and issues related to online safety.

Middlesex is home to some of the UK's foremost authorities on cybercrime and cyber safety. Among them is Dr Elena Martellozzo, who is currently co-leading a project on the use of online pornography funded by the NSPCC and the OCC and has recently worked with the Metropolitan Police to advance internet investigators' performance through the understanding of children and sex offenders' online activities and Professor of Criminology Julia Davidson, who co-directed the first European study exploring internet offenders' online grooming practices on behalf of the European Commission Safer Internet Programme.

Course highlights

  • You will be taught by leading experts working in the field of online safety and child protection
  • Learn how cyber criminals seek to take advantage of internet systems and ways of preventing these crimes from happening
  • Gain specialist skills and knowledge in a relevant and increasingly essential area of criminology, with many employment opportunities

*Norton Cybercrime Report, 2011; Europol Serious and Organized Threat Assessment, 2013; McAfee 'Net Losses' report, 2014

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What will you study on the MSc Cybercrime and Digital Investigation?


Four core plus one optional module are completed over terms one and two, with a Dissertation period in term three.


Each module is typically worth 20-30 credits except the Dissertation and Work Integrated Learning, which are worth 60 credits. Work Integrated Learning may be chosen to replace the Dissertation with prior agreement.

  • Core modules

    • Corporate Compliance and Financial Crime Prevention (30 credits) - Compulsory

      The module aims to give you a broad understanding of regulatory compliance and the detection, investigation and prevention of financial crime (e.g. fraud, electronic crime, money laundering) in corporate environments. You will gain an understanding of the nature and purposes of regulation in the area of financial services, and how compliance is managed in practice. You will also gain knowledge and skills related to the use of digital forensic tools and techniques to manage compliance, mitigate risks and investigate financial crime. The module will focus on the UK regulatory framework as well as international models, conventions and standards.

    • Cybercrime and Society (20 credits) - Compulsory

      With increasing amounts of social activity taking place on the Internet cybercrime is becoming an important area of study. By exploring the history, nature and patterns of cybercrime this module will introduce you to the sociological and criminological study of crime on the Internet. Through a series of examples and case studies of Internet related crime you will consider the diversity of cybercrime as well as its prevention and detection. What is cybercrime? What criminological theories can we use to explain cybercrime? What harm does cybercrime cause? How do people become victims of cybercrime? How is cybercrime policed? How can cybercrime prevented? These are some of the questions that will be tackled in class. This module is designed to provide a critical analysis of selected issues in the study of cybercrime and its control. This aim translates into the following objectives:

      • To provide you with a critical introduction to the concept of cybercrime;
      • To examine the impact of cybercrime on contemporary society;
      • To help you develop an understanding of the relationship between developments in information technology and social harm;
      • To understand how the study of cybercrime challenges existing criminological theories and criminal law;
      • To develop your critical and written communication skills in relation to cybercrime issues;
      • To develop independent research and learning
    • Digital Investigation and Evidence Management (30 credits) - Compulsory

      The module aims to give you a sound understanding of the relationship between digital investigations and digital technologies, as well as an in-depth knowledge of evidence management and the consequences of mismanagement. This practical module will give you all the skills you need to remove electronic digital media from your sources using industry tools and conduct forensic investigations (using commercial software) on case studies. You’ll learn about the planning of investigations, technology management strategies and how your actions could affect evidential continuity. You will finish this module equipped with the awareness that digital forensics is as much about documentation, processes and validity as it is about technical investigations.

    • Researching Cybercrime and Legal Frameworks (20 credits) - Compulsory

      With increasing amounts of social activity taking place on the Internet cybercrime is becoming an important area of research, policy and practice. This module aims to provide you with a critical introduction to legal issues and contemporary methods used in researching cybercrime and to current research through a series of case study guest lectures, each of which will focus upon research design, methods of data collection, data analysis and ethics. The module also aims to develop your critical awareness of research and to enable you to apply complex skills learnt in practical assessments and workshops focusing upon the research process from design to implementation.

  • Choose one of the following modules:

    • Dissertation (60 credits) - Optional

      Students complete a Dissertation on a cybercrime topic of their own choice.

    • Work Integrated Learning (60 credits) - Optional

      The module aims to enable you to apply theoretical knowledge and research to anticipate and respond to challenges in a selected workplace experience. You can undertake this workplace experience as an internship that you negotiate yourself or in your current workplace or an existing voluntary role. It also aims to help you foster sustainable long term learning by requiring that you take responsibility for your own learning, design and negotiate learning goals and make informed judgments about your performance across the programme of study. The module will ask you to engage as active subjects in the assessment process, thus enhancing your capacity for transformative learning. By selecting a topic of interest grounded in your workplace experience you’ll be expected to demonstrate reflexivity, self-regulation and self-assessment in your journey towards personal and professional development.

  • Choose one of the following optional modules:

    • Youth Offending, Disorder and Gangs (20 credits) - Optional

      In this module you’ll critically examine contemporary social problems that are often said to threaten the fabric of society, are subject to intense media exposure and scrutiny, involve the deployment of significant resources via schools, the police, the courts, charities, independent commissions etc. and which have also attracted considerable attention from criminologists in recent years. These problems include street crime, night-time disorder, riots and riotous behaviour, the sexual exploitation of young women, cyber-bullying, the use and misuse of drugs and alcohol, most of which are commonly associated with youth in general and youth gangs in particular. The module takes a realist, applied but critical approach in analysing these issues, drawing on official as well as more critical accounts and research studies for understanding them, and investigating existing and alternative strategies for addressing them.

    • Community Safety and Public Protection (20 credits) - Optional

      Crime and disorder reduction remains a dominant issue on local and national governments' agendas. This module enables you to understand and analyse developments in crime and disorder reduction in urban localities though partnership working. You’ll examine crime and 'disorder' in its sociospatial aspects, exploring 'urban' and 'neighbourhood' dimensions of crime in the contemporary context, local modes of regulation and national-level policies to deal with neighbourhood problems, their problems and merits. Alongside the theoretical background to crime reduction, you will critically review applied practitioner solutions to crime prevention and reduction in a partnership context. The module prepares you with an understanding of key issues of public protection in the partnership context, including the National Offender Management Service (NOMS); risk assessment with regards to victims of crime; compliance to national standards; a critical appraisal of 'What Works' with offenders, tackling offending behaviour and restorative justice. The learning outcomes will enable you to develop a detailed knowledge and understanding of the theoretical and policy concepts relevant to practice within the criminal justice system.

    • Drugs and Crime (20 credits) - Optional

      This module aims to help you develop advanced skills in the application of criminological theories and concepts in relation to drugs, drug use, and drugs control and in critically analysing the relationship between drugs and crime. You will critically evaluate the laws, policies and institutions of drugs control within their social, political and economic contexts and compare and contrast the role of the criminal justice system in responding to drugs in various countries. The module also aims to get you to foster a critical interest in the reform of drugs control policy and institutions at both national and international levels.

    • Political Violence and Terrorism (20 credits) - Optional

      This core module on the MA Criminology will introduce you to key debates about political violence and contemporary terrorism. You’ll be required to consider a range of perspectives emerging from the study of the different forms of political violence, including terrorism and war. It also adopts a critical approach to theoretical and contextual debates on the use of the term terrorism as shorthand for a range of issues relating to political violence. Both institutional and anti-institutional violence will be discussed, along with critical analysis of the controversies surrounding the definitions of violence and terrorism in the different epochs. In the module you’ll examine in detail the contributions of the major schools of thought, along with the most recent sociological-criminological analysis of authorised and unauthorised political violence. The module requires you to critically examine theoretical concepts and practical considerations in contemporary political violence and terrorism discourse drawing on a range of case studies.

    • Qualitative Analysis with NVivo (20 credits) - Optional

      The module introduces you to techniques of coding and qualitative data analysis and is specifically tailored for the use of the NVivo10 software, with the aim of developing practical skills and a critical appreciation of the benefits and disadvantages of computer software for storing, organising and analysing qualitative data. NVivo is one of the most powerful and widely used research packages for the analysis of qualitative data and you will be able to analyse a range of qualitative data such as interviews, focus group transcripts, diaries, journal articles, policy reports as well as multimedia.

    • Social Science Statistics with SPSS (20 credits) - Optional

      This module aims to introduce you to statistics in the social sciences, presenting and discussing a variety of methods that can be applied to a broad range of research areas. You’ll approach this through critical discussion of statistical theory as well as through the application of statistical analysis techniques to small and large scale secondary data-sets. You will learn these techniques through several in-lab exercises using the software package 'SPSS' (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences) - and in this way the module aims to provide you with skills in using SPSS in an analytical, non-mechanical way. The module starts from the basics of descriptive statistics aiming to build your knowledge and skills in more advanced methods, including analysis of statistical relationships, statistical tests, multivariate analysis and modelling. Finally, you will look at issues of data visualisation, reporting and interpretation of findings, through a series of case studies of relevance and interest within the social sciences.

    • Regulatory Practices and Policing Cybercrime (20 credits) - Optional

      The aim of this module is to provide a critical understanding of contemporary issues in online policing, governance and security. The module draws on core criminology and security theories, approaches and perspectives to enable the students to discuss relevant and emerging online problems. This module focuses on the relationship between public and private security actors (i.e. the police, Internet service providers, social media and online businesses) and the public and the challenges in online regulation and investigation. The module includes governance aspects such as governmental regulation, technical regulation, education and awareness and self-regulation. Finally, the module will include guest lectures in relevant fields. These lectures cover emerging online risks, the behaviour of internet users and public-private security responses to the risk.

    • Environmental Crime and Green Criminology (20 credits) - Optional

      This core module on the MA Environmental Law and Justice critically evaluates perspectives on green criminology, and crimes against the environment (including animals). It considers contemporary perspectives on green offending, the regulation of environmental problems, and global perspectives on green crimes, green criminality and the effectiveness of justice systems in resolving environmental problems. It also adopts a critical approach to theoretical debates on animal rights, the legal personhood of animals, and the tension between the continued exploitation of natural resources and the prosecution of environmental crime. In this module you will also critically examine the link between environmental offending and mainstream crimes, including the link between violence towards animals and violence towards humans and the extent to which corporate environmental crime constitutes a ‘crime of the powerful’ or a corporate-state crime. The module will require you to critically examine theoretical concepts and practical considerations in environmental justice and consider how examining environmental harms inevitably results in a wider definition of green ‘crime’ than simply considering those activities defined as such by the criminal law. The module will also help you to develop knowledge and skills appropriate to working in the environmental justice sector with NGOs, local authorities and other policy and enforcement bodies.

    • Forensic and Investigative Psychology (20 credits) - Optional

      This module aims to develop your understanding of fundamental psychological explanations of criminal behaviour, its aetiology, and its ramifications in determining criminal justice and penal responses and/or psychological treatment interventions. You will examine the synergies and connections between criminology and psychology (in particular forensic psychology), and look at how these disciplines feed into each other.

    • Psychological Interventions and Responses to Offending (20 credits) - Optional

      This module is aims to develop your understanding of how psychology interacts with the criminal justice system. You will consider the psychological and psycho-social dimensions of crime and offending, and the psycho-judicial reactions to it. The module will require you to look at key contributions psychology makes to criminal justice and its related institutions.

You can find more information about this course in the programme specification. Optional modules are usually available at levels 5 and 6, although optional modules are not offered on every course. Where optional modules are available, you will be asked to make your choice during the previous academic year. If we have insufficient numbers of students interested in an optional module, or there are staffing changes which affect the teaching, it may not be offered. If an optional module will not run, we will advise you after the module selection period when numbers are confirmed, or at the earliest time that the programme team make the decision not to run the module, and help you choose an alternative module.

How is the MSc Cybercrime and Digital Investigation taught?

Teaching and assessment on the different modules incorporates a range of styles and methods and on occasion, guest lectures are delivered by experts working in the fields of cyber terrorism, online abuse, bullying and cyber investigation.

Criminology conferences

Our Department of Criminology and Sociology is part of the Common Studies Session in Critical Criminology (CSSCC) which involves postgraduate Criminology Departments across different EU universities including Jay College of New York. The conferences are held twice a year across the Europe.

You will be encouraged to attend and deliver your own paper at the conference and have the excellent opportunity to present your ideas in an international academic student environment. A certificate of attendance is awarded to the those who participate in the CSSCC.


Your knowledge and understanding will be assessed by a variety of assessment methods including exams, essays, reports, oral presentations, reviews, a research proposal and a research project or placement in a cybercrime-related area. A range of coursework submissions allows you to demonstrate your understanding of theory and practice, as well as your ability to sustain a coherent argument.

  1. UK & EU
  2. International
  3. How to apply
  1. UK & EU
  2. International
  3. Additional costs
  4. Scholarships and bursaries

How can the MSc Cybercrime and Digital Investigation support your career?

This master's degree aims to develop social science graduates who have the skills needed to respond to cybercrime and e-security challenges, from issues relating to transnational crime, intellectual property, sexual offences, vulnerable victims, privacy legislation and law.

Potential career paths include policy development, corporate security, e-investigation, social media safety, anti-money laundering (investigatory and other roles in the Financial Conduct Authority, Financial Services Ombudsman etc.), safeguarding, designing and implementing data security and information strategies, business continuity and others.

Several major auditing firms also have graduate entry programmes that specifically identify criminology as a base qualification for applicants.

Those already in industry view their master's-level studies as a means to facilitating career progression within their organisations. A number of students have continued their studies in criminology and psychology at PhD level. Staff in the department will work alongside the employability office to facilitate your future career decisions.

Dr Tine Munk
Programme Leader

Dr Tine Munk is the acting course leader for this course and is one the UK’s foremost authorities on cybercrime and cyber safety.

Julia Davidson
Professor of Criminology

Julia Davidson co-directed the first European study exploring internet offenders' online grooming practices on behalf of the European Commission Safer Internet Programme.

Dr Elena Martellozzo

Dr Martellozzo is a Criminologist and specialises in sex offenders' use of the internet and online child safety.  She offers regular expert advice to the London Metropolitan Police and Italian Police Force (Polizia di Stato and Carabinieri). Elena has work extensively with children, serious offenders and practitioners. She has conducted ground breaking research for the London Metropolitan Police, the National Audit Office and the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre.

Other courses

Criminology MA

Start: October 2020, September 2020 (EU/INT induction)

Duration: 1 year full-time, 2 years part-time

Code: PGL40X

Criminology with Forensic Psychology MSc

Start: October 2020, EU/INT induction: September 2020

Duration: 1 year full-time, 2 years part-time

Code: PGL371

Youth Justice, Community Safety and Applied Criminology MA

Start: October 2021, September 2021 (EU/INT induction)

Duration: 1 year full-time, 2 years part-time

Code: PGL5M9

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