MSc ACS: Digital Biology / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:

Course unit fact file
Unit code COMP61411
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? No


Cryptography is a vital component of modern electronic security technologies.


The course aims to give students a good appreciation of cryptographic techniques, as they have arisen historically, and as they are used today.

Learning outcomes

  • ​​​​​​Comment on the broad principles underlying cryptography and its applications.
  • Describe some of the classical cryptographic techniques and their weaknesses.
  • Describe the principles of the most widely used private key cryptographic schemes.
  • Describe the principles of the most widely used public key key cryptographic schemes.


  • Early cryptography: permutations and substitutions, Vignere, Vernam, one time pads, etc.
  • Rotor machines: Enigma and its relatives.
  • Case study: Marian Rejewski and the breaking of the German Enigma.
  • Modern cryptography, secret key: block cyphers, DES, AES, etc.
  • Modern cryptography, public key: Diffie-Hellman, RSA, elliptic curves.
  • Message authentication, hash functions, digital signatures.
  • Quantum cryptography: quantum key distribution in practice.

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Problem solving

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 70%
Written assignment (inc essay) 30%

Feedback methods

Feedback is provided face to face in the lab, and online for uploaded assessed materials.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 2
Lectures 20
Practical classes & workshops 15
Independent study hours
Independent study 113

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Bernardo Magri Unit coordinator
Richard Banach Unit coordinator

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