COMP0056 People and Security

This database contains the 2018-19 versions of syllabuses.

Note: Whilst every effort is made to keep the syllabus and assessment records correct, the precise details must be checked with the lecturer(s).

Academic session



People and Security



Module delivery

1819/A7U/T1/COMP0056 Masters (MEng)

Related deliveries

1819/A7P/T1/COMP0056 Postgraduate

Prior deliveries



Masters (MEng)

FHEQ Level


FHEQ credits



Term 1

Module leader

Parkin, Simon


Parkin, Simon

Module administrator

Ball, Louisa


  • Students will be able to specify usability criteria that a security mechanism has to meet to be workable for end-user groups and work contexts;
  • Know the strengths and weaknesses of particular security mechanisms in practice, and hence be able to choose and configure mechanisms for best performance in a given organisational context; and
  • Be able to specify accompanying measures (policies, training, monitoring and ensuring compliance) that a user organisation needs to implement to ensure long-term security in practice.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, a student will be able to:

  1. apply their knowledge of human factors and behavioural economics to specify and implement workable and effective security solutions, and manage security behaviour.

Availability and prerequisites

This module delivery is available for selection on the below-listed programmes. The relevant programme structure will specify whether the module is core, optional, or elective.

In order to be eligible to select this module as optional or elective, where available, students must meet all prerequisite conditions to the satisfaction of the module leader. Places for students taking the module as optional or elective are limited and will be allocated according to the department’s module selection policy.

Programmes on which available:

  • MEng Computer Science (International Programme) (Year 4)
  • MEng Computer Science (Year 4)
  • MEng Mathematical Computation (International Programme) (Year 4)
  • MEng Mathematical Computation (Year 4)


There are no formal prerequisites.


Understanding Human Behaviour in Security

  • Systems thinking and design
  • Usability: Users, tasks and context
  • Performance and Workload
  • Productivity and performance vs risk and security


  • Humans and Risk
  • Risk Biases and Decision-making
  • Friction and the Compliance Budget


  • Authentication tasks: enrolment, verification, recovery
  • Knowledge-based authentication: Passwords, -phrases, PINs, graphical Authentication
  • Token-based authentication
  • Biometric authentication: physical and behavioural
  • Continuous authentication via devices, sensors, and biometrics
  • Payment systems and transaction authentication

Access control

  • Different access control models, organisational impact and user workload

Attacks and attackers (and how to counter them)

  • Types of attacks (Guessing, observation, capture and coercion)
  • Types of attackers: motivation, resources risk propensity
  • Social engineering attacks
  • Insider attacks


  • Online identity vs identity in the physical world
  • National identity vs socially constructed systems
  • Digital footprints, shadows and superidentities
  • Identity as currency


  • Data protection and user perception
  • Delivering privacy: Privacy by Design, the PST model
  • Surveillance, dataveillance and sousveillance online and in the physical world (CCTV)


  • Model of trust in online interaction
  • Game theory: incentivising trustworthy behaviour
  • Reputation systems and their application in online systems

Influencing user behaviour

  • Security awareness, education and training
  • User interface design and influencing techniques
  • Values, attitudes, security culture and security behaviour
  • Responsibility and communication

An indicative reading list is available via


The module is delivered through a combination of lectures, guest lectures, problem-based learning sessions, and non-assessed written exercises.


This module delivery is assessed as below:



Weight (%)



Written examination (2hrs 30mins)







In order to pass this Module Delivery, students must:

  • achieve an overall weighted Module mark of at least 50.00%;

AND, when taken as part of MEng Computer Science and MEng Mathematical Computation:

  • achieve a mark of at least 40.00% in any Components of assessment weighed ≥ 30% of the module.

Where a Component comprises multiple Assessment Tasks, the minimum mark applies to the overall component.