Introduction to Cybercrime

Cybercrime is the term applied to criminal and harmful behaviours that are facilitated through the use of digital technologies, or that only occur due to the existence of such tools.

Unfortunately, as more people and services turn to digital technologies, the growing risk of cybercrime is exposing a shortfall in qualified professionals who realise that humans are at the heart of this issue. If you hold a keen interest in understanding and addressing the behavioural and social elements that motivate such actions, you may be well-suited for a career in this field.

The discipline of criminology, which seeks to uncover the underlying causes of crime and delinquency, provides the foundation for our MSc. Through exploring online power dynamics, social science research methods and more, you’ll develop into a confident and capable subject matter expert with the ability to help effect meaningful change for those vulnerable to cybercrime.

Note: Cybercrime is distinct from cyber security, which focuses on techniques of protecting digital technologies, networks, and data against criminal or unauthorised access. A straightforward way to differentiate the two is to think of cybercrime studies as addressing the reasons behind online deviant or criminal activity, whereas cyber security is a technical approach to preventing and tackling the activity itself.

Course details

MSc Cybercrime

2 start dates per year: January and September

Next welcome week: 18 September 2023

Next course start date: 25 September 2023

Application deadline: 11 September 2023. Apply as soon as possible to secure your place.

Duration: 2 years (part time)

Format: Online, with optional face-to-face events. You can also study an MSc in Cybercrime on campus.

Total course fees: £9,400 (including a £250 acceptance fee)

Tailored support: Contact our course adviser team today for application advice 

Application form: Start your application for September 2023

Application process

Why this MSc Cybercrime?

On this postgraduate course, you’ll focus on the acts of cybercrime and the criminals behind them. You'll gain the skills needed to meet the demand for experienced cybercrime investigators and help make the online world a safer place.

The studies you can expect to take on will encompass a range of topics, including cyber offender and victim characteristics; public and private responses to cybercrime; the regulatory influences that impact upon behaviour online; and much more.

You’ll learn how to analyse and apply different theoretical perspectives and research in relation to cybercrime, plus how to communicate this research to those outside of the field as well.

You'll take a global approach to cybercrime and investigate the international cooperation needed to tackle it.

Additionally, you’ll have opportunities to collaborate with specialists in the cybercrime field, through The University of Portsmouth's Centre for Cybercrime and Economic Crime, (including the Cybercrime Awareness Clinic), and our affiliations with the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), local constabularies, and regional organised crime units.

The critical and analytical knowledge you develop will help you contribute to the mitigation of cybercrimes on both a local and international level. Plus, with the prevalence of digital technology in most organisations, you can look forward to exploring a range of career opportunities across industries.

What's it like to study Cybercrime online?

Read our Q&A with current student Zoe-Clair on what motivated her to pursue master's level study.

Read the student interview

What you’ll study

This course will give you the skills to pursue a career in combating cybercrime.

On this course, you'll:

  • Take a holistic approach to cybercrime, developing critical thinking around responses to technological, human, legal and management perspectives

  • Investigate sociological and criminological aspects of cybercrime, identifying offender characteristics and the main victims of cybercrime

  • Collaborate with experienced personnel such as members of Hampshire Police and the Crime Commissioner’s Office on your dissertation/major project

  • Explore debates surrounding the causes of cybercrimes, digital investigations and the methods and motivations of cybercriminals

  • Assess new harms online such as bullying, harassment and technology-facilitated sexual violence, as well as potential shortfalls in legislation

All course materials are available on-demand and can be accessed from wherever you are in the world. Find out more about how you'll learn with us.

How does our interdisciplinary curriculum transform how we tackle cybercrime?

Watch our Q&A to find out. Cybercrime student Kovelin Naidoo talks to Lisa Sugiura about career prospects in cybercrime, as well as discussing the future of an ever-evolving industry.

Read the transcript for this video


This module equips you with the skills to prevent, detect and react to cybercrime by addressing motivations, current responses and investigations at the forefront of cybercrime research and professional practice. You’ll learn to locate and access information pertinent to cybercrime through digital and emerging technologies, and explore how current and emerging internet and related technologies are used to commit criminal and deviant acts.

Using case studies on major underlying conflicts on the internet, this module provides a core understanding of how the internet functions as a space of interacting influences. You'll focus on the different regulatory influences that impact online behaviour and the shaping and function of the modern internet, and get an in-depth understanding of specialised areas at the forefront of cybercrime.

You’ll examine the full picture of cybersecurity on this module, evaluating it on a global scale as well as looking at current national and international strategies. You'll gain an in-depth and systematic knowledge of the nature of cybersecurity threats facing organisations and states, and feel confident analysing the challenges of national cybersecurity strategies and the impact of governance.

On this module, you’ll explore the wide range of research methods used to investigate cybercrime such as qualitative, quantitative and mixed research methods. This experience will help you know how to apply them wherever appropriate. You’ll develop a research proposal based on your knowledge, and will evaluate challenges involved in ethical research and how to address them.

Your dissertation will consist of a small-scale research project demonstrating your grasp of research design, methods and ethics as learned on your Master’s course. You can submit an academic dissertation or an applied work-based project report. Our association with the Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner’s Office can help you access data or interview subjects for your dissertation or project and they can give you feedback on research questions.

Career prospects and opportunities

Our MSc Cybercrime is designed to equip you with the expertise needed to find success within the cybercrime field.

In addition to developing the specialist knowledge required to address cybercriminal activity, your research alongside our industry experts will familarise you with real-world processes and offer important experience collaborating with others.

These skills, coupled with the support you can receive from our exceptional Careers and Employability Service, will help position you as a valuable hire to employers across the world.

Roles open to graduates could include:

  • Behaviour analysts

  • Information security officers

  • Risk management analysts

  • Intelligence analysts

  • Researchers

On-campus MSc Cybercrime graduates have gone on to secure positions such as:

  • Data Protection Act Coordinator at Great Ormond Street Hospital

  • Marketing at Data Protection World Forum

  • Digital Team Leader at the NHS Trust

  • Cyber Threat Intelligence Analyst at Accenture

To learn more about the paths of progression available to you after graduation, visit our Careers and opportunities page:

More on career options
Cybercrime professionals working together

Teaching team

Dr Iain Reid

Dr Iain Reid

Course Leader

I am a Lecturer in Cybercrime in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Portsmouth. I completed my PhD in Psychology at the University of Lincoln where my work focused on developing a holistic, risk-based and future focused approach to deception. 

MSc Cybercrime glossary

Discover the key terms professionals in the field need to know:

Read the glossary

Looking for a full-time course?

You can study an MSc in Cybercrime on campus:

Find out more

How you're assessed

All assessments for this course are based on coursework submitted online. Your performance is assessed through coursework including:

  • Academic essays

  • Briefing papers and reports

  • Blog posts

  • Narrated presentations

  • A dissertation

You can also test your skills and knowledge informally before assessments via online quizzes, group discussions, peer review activities and virtual seminars.

Tutors will provide feedback on practice and formal assessments so you can improve your work for the future.

Entry requirements

To join this course, you must have a minimum of a second-class honours degree in a relevant subject (Social Science, Humanities or Management subject).

Information Technology related subjects will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Applicants with equivalent professional experience in a relevant organisation (cybercrime, cybersecurity or related) will also be considered on a case-by-case basis.

You must also have English language proficiency at IELTS level 6.5 with no component score below 6.0 (or other acceptable proof), if English is not your first language.

If you’re unsure whether you’re eligible to apply, please speak to one of our course advisers on +44 (0)23 9400 3692, or email

Want to start in September 2023?

Apply now
Female cybercrime student

"There was a great mix of students from different age groups, from students who had just finished their undergraduate degree, to students returning to university after several years."

Daniel Sibthorpe
MSc in Cybercrime graduate

"Innovation in cyber space is going to force innovation in criminality in all aspects of cybercrime. And those on this post-grad course will be equipped with the knowledge they need to tackle those kind of crimes or forms of deviance from all angles."

Kovelin Naidoo
MSc in Cybercrime student

The Cybercrime Awareness Clinic

The MSc Cybercrime is part of the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at The University of Portsmouth.

Academics within the School are actively researching the impact of cybercrime on society and individuals, as well as the motivations and methods of cybercriminals.

Through the Cybercrime Awareness Clinic, they aim to raise awareness of and build resilience to cybercrime among organisations and the local community.

Module Leader Dr Vasileios Karagiannopoulos is the Director of the Clinic.

The Clinic has conducted research with children, young adults, older people and small to medium organisations to find out more about their experiences of and concerns about cybercrime – as well as how they would like to receive cybercrime awareness advice.

Current research projects include

  • ORPHEUS, co-funded by Interreg 2Seas, a project aiming to prevent the radicalisation of vulnerable young people and;

  • the Cyberclinics project, funded by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), which is helping UK businesses to mitigate cyber threats and be more resilient online

The Clinic also aims to develop a transferable model for the implementation of cybercrime awareness clinics in other parts of the country.

Students on our online MSc Cybercrime will get to learn firsthand from experts through the Clinic, and benefit from its expertise and ongoing research into cybercrime awareness and prevention.

Find out more about the Cybercrime Awareness Clinic.