Overcoming the Challenges of Teaching Cybersecurity in UK Computer Science Degree Programmes

Crick, Tom, Davenport, James, Hanna, Paul, Irons, Alastair and Prickett, Tom (2020) Overcoming the Challenges of Teaching Cybersecurity in UK Computer Science Degree Programmes. In: IEEE/ASEE Frontiers in Education 2020: Education for a Sustainable Future, 21st-24th Oct 2020, Uppsala, Sweden. (In Press)

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Abstract

This Innovative Practice Full Paper explores the diversity of challenges relating to the teaching of cybersecurity in UK higher education degree programmes, through the lens of national policy, to the impact on pedagogy and practice. An article published in the Harvard Business Review in August 2019 argued that ”Every Computer Science Degree Should Require a Course in Cybersecurity ”; in the UK, universities – alongside government, industry and professional engineering bodies – have been championing this over recent years, focusing on computer science and cognate undergraduate degrees programmes; one such professional body (BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT) has been mandating this in accredited undergraduate degree programmes since 2015. Delivering cybersecurity effectively across general computer science programmes presents a number of challenges related to pedagogy, resources, faculty and infrastructure, as well as responding to industry requirements. There is a serious demand for cybersecurity specialists, both in the UK and globally (estimates vary, but are always large and increasing); there is thus significant and growing higher education provision related to specialist undergraduate and postgraduate courses focusing on varying aspects of cybersecurity (for example, cryptography, computer security, networks, digital forensics, ethical hacking, etc). To make our digital systems and products more secure, all in IT need to know some cybersecurity thus, there is a case for depth as well as breadth; this is not a new concern, but it is a growing one. Computer science and cognate engineering disciplines are evolving to meet these demands – both at school-level, as well as at university – however, doing so is not without challenges. This paper explores the progress made to date in the UK, building on previous work in cybersecurity education and accreditation by highlighting key challenges and opportunities, as well as identifying a number of enhancement activities for use by the international cybersecurity education community. It frames these challenges through concerns with the quality and availability of underpinning educational resources, the competencies and skills of faculty (especially focusing on pedagogy, progression and assessment), and articulating the necessary technical resources and infrastructure related to delivering rigorous cybersecurity content in general computer science and cognate degrees. Though this critical evaluation of an emerging national case study of cybersecurity education in the UK, we also present a number of recommendations across policy and practice – from pedagogic principles and developing effective cybersecurity teaching practice, challenges in the recruitment, retention and professional development of faculty, to supporting diverse routes into post-compulsory cybersecurity education (and thus, diverse careers) – to provide the foundation for potential replicability and portability to other jurisdictions contemplating related education and skills reform initiatives and interventions.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: G400 Computer Science
X300 Academic studies in Education
X900 Others in Education
Department: Faculties > Engineering and Environment > Computer and Information Sciences
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 18 May 2020 12:50
Last Modified: 18 May 2020 13:00
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/43162

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