COMP0061 Privacy Enhancing Technologies

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



Privacy Enhancing Technologies



Module delivery

1819/A7U/T2/COMP0061 Masters (MEng)

Related deliveries

1819/A7P/T2/COMP0061 Postgraduate

Prior deliveries



Masters (MEng)

FHEQ Level


FHEQ credits



Term 2

Module leader

De Cristofaro, Emiliano


De Cristofaro, Emiliano

Module administrator

Ball, Louisa


Upon completion of the module the students are expected to be specialists in understanding the issues around privacy in computer systems and on-line services; aware of the best available techniques for mitigating important privacy threats through appropriate security and cryptography controls, namely the use of private communications, private authentication and private computations; be able to securely implement those techniques, as well as familiar with the process of building secure systems.

Learning outcomes

Key Skills

  1. Basic and advanced conceptions of privacy
  2. Techniques used for on-line tracking and pervasive surveillance infrastructures
  3. Privacy in authentication
  4. Selective disclosure credentials and zero-knowledge proofs
  5. Anonymous communications and Tor
  6. Traffic analysis
  7. Privacy in databases and storage systems
  8. Censorship and censorship evasion
  9. Private computations using homomorphic encryption and secret sharing
  10. Interdisciplinary aspects of privacy

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)


To be eligible to select this module, students must have either taken in Term 1:


The course covers in depth major issues in computer security related to protecting privacy as well as threats to the privacy of computer users. In particular is covers the theory and practice of:

  • Private communications, anonymous communications, censorship circumvention and traffic analysis.
  • Private authentication, selective disclosure credentials for identify management, and zero-knowledge proof techniques.
  • Private statistics and computations through homomorphic encryption and secure multi-party computation and differential privacy.
  • Interdisciplinary (social, economic, legal, anthropologic) aspects of privacy

Students are introduced to both privacy threats such as pervasive surveillance, profiling, location analysis, and traffic analysis, as well as the technical mitigation techniques relying on modern cryptography and differential privacy.

An indicative reading list is available via


The module is delivered through a combination of lectures and supervised labs to support programming exercises. For the labs and programming exercises students, will be expected to run a pre-configured virtual machine using “VirtualBox” and be familiar with basic programming in C or Python.


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.