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Digital forensics

Digital evidence features in just about every part of our personal and business lives. Legal and business decisions hinge on having timely data about what people have actually done. This online module will help you understand how to conduct investigations to correctly gather, analyse and present digital evidence to both business and legal audiences. You will also learn how to find tools to locate and analyse digital evidence on a variety of devices, including mobile phones, and how to keep up to date with changing technologies, laws and regulations in digital forensics.

Vocational relevance

This module is appropriate if you are a computing student wanting to gain a further understanding of how digital forensics can be applied in both legal and business environments. It is appropriate if you want to enhance your career options in computer security or digital forensics.

Qualifications

M812 is a compulsory module in our:

M812 is an optional module in our:

Postgraduate Loans 

If you study this module as part of an eligible qualification, you may also be eligible for a Postgraduate Loan available from Student Finance England. For more information, see Fees and funding.

Excluded combinations

Sometimes you will not be able to count a module towards a qualification if you have already taken another module with similar content. To check any excluded combinations relating to this module, visit our excluded combination finder or check with an adviser before registering.

Module

Module code
M812
Credits

Credits

  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
30
Study level
OU Postgraduate
SCQF 11
FHEQ 7
Study method
Distance learning
Find out more in Why the OU?
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

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What you will study

This online module provides a broad and practical introduction to the fundamentals of digital forensics. It begins by setting the context of digital forensics in the wider discipline of traditional forensic science to show how many of the principles and techniques still apply, including investigation skills, evidence handling, note taking and reporting. You will then take a detailed look at some of the English civil and criminal laws particularly relevant to digital forensic investigations and learn how to find the law, both in England and Wales and other jurisdictions. Using written material and videos, you will learn the principles of legal report writing and giving oral testimony.

We look at the architectures of the digital systems that are likely to require examination and teach the principles that allow you to identify the relevant architectures of new and evolving devices. You will learn to find and use both open source and commercial digital forensic tools to acquire and analyse digital evidence by doing practical exercises. Using written material and videos, you will develop competence as first responders to a digital forensic incident. The teaching will then expose you to the challenges of network forensics in a client-server network, virtualisation, and network traffic analysis.

Mobile devices, such as phones and tablets, are an important part of our everyday lives and therefore important sources of evidence in many forensic investigations. Through videos and practical exercises, you will develop the skills to conduct a forensic examination of a mobile device and be able to apply these to new devices as they are released. A number of advanced topics will be introduced including Internet Intelligence and malware analysis. The module concludes by helping you consolidate the concepts and skills you have learned to help an organisation prepare appropriate plans for forensic incidents.

You will learn

This module is particularly relevant for students wishing to begin a career in digital forensics. It was designed to match the learning outcomes for the Forensic Science Society’s accreditation standards for digital forensics.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will be responsible for monitoring your progress on the module, marking and commenting on your written work and whom you can contact for advice and guidance. You will be encouraged to interact with other students via the online forum.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.

Assessment

The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

You must use the online eTMA system to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs).

Course work includes

4 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
Examination
No residential school

Course satisfaction survey

See the satisfaction survey results for this course.

Future availability

Digital forensics (M812) starts once a year – May 2019 is the last time we expect it to start.

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Essential Documents website.

    Entry requirements

    It is expected that you will hold a bachelors degree (or equivalent) in computing or a related discipline, or alternatively have at least three years relevant industry experience.

    Your spoken and written English must be of an adequate standard for postgraduate study. If English is not your first language, we recommend that you will need a minimum overall score of 6 and minimum score of 5.5 in each of the four components: reading, writing, speaking and listening under the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Please see the IELTS website for details.

    If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.

    Outside the UK

    Although the laws referred to in the module are those of England and Wales, the module also helps you develop the skills to find relevant laws both in the UK and other jurisdictions. We use specific exercises to ensure that you are exposed to cross-jurisdictional legal issues and can find relevant local laws and regulations. All of the other teaching is relevant worldwide.

    Preparatory work

    You would benefit from some experience of using:

    • more than one operating system – Linux in particular
    • programs with a command line interface
    • a virtual machine through software such as Oracle VirtualBox or VMware.

    Register

    Start End England fee Register
    01 May 2019 Oct 2019 £1360.00

    Registration closes 11/04/19 (places subject to availability)

    Register
    May 2019 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.

    Future availability

    Digital forensics (M812) starts once a year – May 2019 is the last time we expect it to start.

    Additional costs

    Study costs

    There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a laptop, travel to tutorials, set books and internet access.

    Ways to pay

    We know there’s a lot to think about when choosing to study, not least how much it’s going to cost and how you can pay.

    That’s why we keep our fees as low as possible and offer a range of flexible payment and funding options. To find out more see Fees and funding.

    Study materials

    What's included

    This module is presented online. All study materials will be available on the module website, including:

    • details of how to download and install VirtualBox and a current forensic investigation application
    • four blocks of core texts
    • access to module books available at the library
    • module assessment
    • exercises, YouTube videos and podcasts to support the teaching.

    In addition you will be provided with a module book either online or in print – the format will be confirmed nearer to module start date.

    You will need

    Having a second computer and mobile phone, possibly old or obsolete, may be useful for conducting forensic examination exercises.

    Your computer will require a camera and microphone in order to complete the oral assessment as part of your final assignment (TMA).

    Whilst the basic computer specification recommended by the OU includes a minimum 1 Mbps internet connection, please be aware that multiple gigabyte files will need downloading. At least 4GB of memory is recommended to support the virtual machines used in this module. 

    Computing requirements

    A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module.  Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

    Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.

    A desktop or laptop computer with either:

    • Windows 7 or higher
    • macOS 10.7 or higher

    The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

    To participate in our online-discussion area you will need both a microphone and speakers/headphones. 

    Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students. 

    If you have a disability

    The materials for this module are provided as a series of web pages via the module website and should be accessible using screen readers. Figure descriptions of any diagrams will be provided along with transcripts of any audio material and printable versions of the online text based material. Some online material may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader (and mathematical and scientific materials may be particularly difficult to read in this way). 

    Alternative formats of the study materials, such as E-pub and Kindle versions, may be available in the future. If you use specialist hardware or software to assist you in using a computer, or think you may have difficulty using the online material you are advised to contact us about support which can be given to meet your needs. 

    If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Find out more about our services for disabled students.