UCLan Physical Sciences and Computing – A school that packs big punch

‘From the earth to the sun’ is the motto of Preston-based University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) – an institution that prides itself on helping students to achieve their full potential. The university has always been a known trailblazer – in 2010, UCLan became the first UK modern Higher Education Institution to appear in the QS World University Rankings.  The results of the 2014 Research Excellence Framework deemed all 16 of UCLan’s assessed research areas as being of ‘world-leading’ standard.

It stands to reason that such a forward- thinking university would be ahead of its time in one of the newest areas of study worldwide: computing. The School of Physical Sciences and Computing at UCLan offers a range of innovative computing courses that are streets ahead of many competing universities in terms of relevance to the field.  The school’s flexible approach to learning styles allows students to thrive in line with how they learn best. Face-to-face lectures and tutorials are supplemented with rich e-learning resources – a gift for the naturally technologically-minded. Students of the school are making their presence known nationwide, with one undergraduate recently landing a prestigious internship with global technology giant, CISCO.

While the school boasts a number of interesting undergraduate options, one undergraduate course that particularly stands out is the BSc in Forensic Computing and Security. This course involves a combination of computers and crime solving, requiring students to source and present evidence from computers and mobile devices. The curriculum combines theory with practical modules to give students a solid foundation in both technology and forensics upon graduation.

Here, students are trained to use equipment used by police and forensic analysts to gather evidence, culminating in a practical final year project where the forensic skills learnt are put to the test in a practical setting. Students have the option to undertake a year-long industrial placement, either in the UK or abroad, to support their practical learning. This is also an excellent opportunity to build a relationship with a company with a view to securing employment post-graduation. One testimonial from recent graduate, Lucy Myers, explains just how desirable the course is to employers – with the student already being granted a job offer from her placement provider, the world-renowned Ernst and Young. The BSc’s last student cohort saw 90 percent of graduates find employment within six months of completing the course.

One postgraduate provision that catches the eye is the MSc in IT Security. This is a taught Masters that can be undertaken on either a full or part-time basis, making it a suitable option for someone who already works in the computer industry and is looking to upskill in line with industry trends.

The programme combines compulsory taught modules, optional modules and, upon completion of these, a Masters Project to ensure that the student has the ability to protect the security and integrity of an IT system against sophisticated threats. Part of the MSc involves an optional 6-10 month placement in a working environment in the role of security specialist, allowing students to gain both hands-on work experience and develop contacts with a view to eventual employment. Here is a short video that demonstrates why a former student of the programme chose to undertake this course, as well as how it benefitted his career.

With new European laws regarding cybersecurity coming into effect year, forensic computing courses and those who are trained in them are about to become indispensable for employers across the globe. As security threats to computers become more widespread and high-level, the need for positions to be created in this field is likely to increase exponentially. Industry trends predict that the digital forensics industry will continue to grow, making this a lucrative time to plan a career in the field.

Where possible, UCLan’s courses are accredited by the appropriate professional bodies; in the case of computing, this is The British Computer Society. Accreditation ensures that course content is up to the standard expected by the professional body, so as a student you can rest assured that the curriculum is nationally-recognised and respected.

Still not convinced? Perhaps some statistics about UCLan’s location will sway your decision. Preston is the cheapest student city in the UK, and the best city to live and work in North-West England. Though small, Preston punches above its weight in terms of restaurant options, scenery, nightlife and sports facilities. A virtual tour of the campus is available on UCLan’s website to give you an idea of just some of the facilities available to students on-campus. A small-town community feel with cutting-edge courses on offer – UCLan really is the very best of both worlds.

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