R60 – the new BSc (Hons) Cybersecurity degree

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Just over a week ago, I attended a special Q&A about the Open University’s new BSc (Hons) Cybersecurity degree (R60). There is a lot of interest and the first students can enrol to start this October. If this is for you, you’ve only got until the module registration deadline of 10 September!

The Open University is attempting to address the cyber security skills gap and capitalise on increased demand. Any google search will turn up several similar degrees at other brick universities.

Stage 1

At Stage 1 of the BSc (Hons) Cybersecurity degree, R60, you study the same modules as other computing and IT degrees at the Open University. These include TM111 and TM112 (Introduction to Computing and IT 1 and 2), and TM129, Technologies in Practice. Plus either of the maths modules, MU123 or the harder MST124.

Stage 2

You start to see the difference at Stage 2, which has four compulsory modules. These are Web Technologies (TT284), Cisco Networking (CCNA) Part 1 (TM257), Communication and Information Technologies (TM255), and a brand new module Computer Security and Digital Forensics (TM256).

The Open University website still contains no information about TM256. They are still writing the module. Even the name may change. In fact, you will not be able to study it until its first presentation in February 2022. Broadly (and tentatively) speaking, it covers the following main areas:

  • concepts of cyber security
  • systems security, e.g. operating systems security and cryptography
  • infrastructure, host and application security
  • security operations and incident management
  • fundamentals of digital forensics

The above is subject to change but it gives you a rough idea what to expect.

There will be the usual mix of TMAs, iCMAs and a written exam. The Open University is still to determine the exact number and weighting.

Stage 3

At Stage 3, there are three compulsory modules. These are TM311 Information Security, TM359 Systems Penetration Testing/ Ethical Hacking and the Computing and IT Project (TM470). There is also the choice of either Cisco Networking (CCNA) Part 2 (TM357) or Web, Mobile and Cloud Technologies (TM352).

We know little about TM311 or TM359, planned for October 2021 and February 2023 respectively. However, the Open University have aligned the curriculum with The Cyber Security Body of Knowledge (CyBOK). It will build upon the topics introduced in TM256 and cover specific areas including:

  • adversarial behaviours
  • ethical hacking
  • threat intelligence
  • malware
  • attack technologies

The Open University will deliver the new modules, not third parties such as Cisco. There will be a heavy practical element, most likely using online lab environments, and expect to get familiar with (Kali) Linux.

Switching degrees

Contact the Student Support Team if, like me, you are enrolled on another degree. This is easier if you are still in Stage 1 because you will be studying the same four modules.

It will also be possible to study the new cybersecurity modules either on their own or as part of another degree. However, there may be a cap on numbers in the first presentation.

If you do not like programming then you are in luck. There are no programming-heavy modules, such as M269 and M250, in the cybersecurity degree. The Open University, after consulting with the industry, does not see them as essential for cybersecurity, at least for entry level roles.

Unlike other modules, the new cybersecurity modules have two starts, the usual one in October and another in February. This is for logistical reasons. The Open University is heavily recruiting tutors for the new modules and expecting high demand from students.


Will employers value the new BSc (Hons) Cybersecurity degree? Well, the Open University will be seeking provisional accreditation for R60 from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) in 2021. They will seek full accreditation in 2023. This is because all modules on the degree have to start their first presentation before seeking final accreditation. The Open University will also be seeking accreditation from the British Computing Society (BCS).

There is also the option of pursuing external accreditations. For example, the CompTIA Security+, for which the new cybersecurity modules will be good preparation for the exam.

Decisions, decisions, decisions

I am deciding whether to switch to the cybersecurity degree or pick up some of the modules as optional modules. Would a broader, more general computer science degree be more valuable than a narrower computer science degree? Would I miss the computer science and programming-heavy modules? Should I generalise then specialise? Would a broad computing and IT degree keep my options open?

Cybersecurity is probably the subject I find most interesting. However, I enjoy programming and I also really want to understand the basics of how computers work. Knowledge of the underpinning theoretical concepts should give me a firm basis for any future career in computing and IT.

Luckily, I have still got a bit of time to make a decision.

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