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CSC8207 : Security of Complex Systems

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Narges Khakpour
  • Lecturer: Dr Mujeeb Ahmed
  • Owning School: Computing
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0
European Credit Transfer System


Complex systems, such as industrial control systems, include social, cyber and physical aspects, which can all be exploited by attackers.

This module will cover approaches and practices used in securing complex systems, including vulnerabilities, attacks and defence techniques concerning networking protocols and architectures in such systems. Additionally, the module will cover human and organisational aspects and how such factors intersect with the software and hardware components in complex systems, and how to mitigate the impact of risks arising from such interaction. Aspects of incident response and post-incident forensics will also be covered.

Outline Of Syllabus

- Fundamentals of complex systems, e.g., the devices, platforms and protocols used in them
- Security of complex systems (e.g., Industrial control systems; Smart grids; Industrial IoTs; Smart cities)
- Vulnerabilities in computing systems and defence techniques
- Threat modelling and risk analysis in the context of complex systems
- Advanced physical-layer attacks and defences, e.g., side channel attacks.
- Security in software development and program analysis.
- Human and organisational factors, e.g., usability challenges of security; social engineering techniques; risk
perceptions and decision-making.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion301:0030:00Project Work - Coursework
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials600:1515:00Lecture materials
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching51:005:00Preparation for coursework
Structured Guided LearningStructured non-synchronous discussion51:005:00Discussion on forum
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study201:0020:00Background reading
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study201:0020:00Lecture follow-up
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesModule talk51:005:00Lecture material introduction and discussion
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lecture material (using both recorded videos and written/interactive material) will be used to teach fundamental concepts and to introduce technical and relevant research papers. Learners are expected to follow-up lectures within a few days, and to read the selected background material uploaded online. The small group teaching sessions will allow learners to work with several demonstrators on topics related to the coursework, and learners are expected to actively participate on the discussion forum.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Report2M1002,000 words
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Report2M1000 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The purpose of formative assessment is to help students prepare for the summative assessment, and both assessment include an aspect of critical thinking, application of research techniques, and require awareness of current security problems. However, the summative assessment is more comprehensive in terms of topic coverage, analytical techniques employed, and the depth of understanding regarding security issues. We provide feedback on the formative coursework.

Reading Lists