Digital forensics

Digital evidence features in almost every part of our personal and business lives. Legal and business decisions hinge on timely data about what people have done. This module helps you understand how to conduct investigations to gather, analyse and present digital evidence to business and legal audiences. You’ll also learn how to find tools to locate and analyse digital evidence on various 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.


M812 is a compulsory module in our:

M812 is an optional module in our:

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 code


  • 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.
Study level
Across the UK, there are two parallel frameworks for higher education qualifications, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ) and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). These define a hierarchy of levels and describe the achievement expected at each level. The information provided shows how OU postgraduate modules correspond to these frameworks.
OU Postgraduate
Study method
Distance learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

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 Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences (CSFS) accreditation standards for digital forensics and some of the qualifications requiring M812 are recognised by the CSFS.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

Throughout your module studies, you’ll get help and support from your assigned module tutor. They’ll help you by:

  • Marking your assignments (TMAs) and providing detailed feedback for you to improve.
  • Guiding you to additional learning resources.
  • Providing individual guidance, whether that’s for general study skills or specific module content.
  • Facilitating online discussions between your fellow students, in the dedicated module and tutor group forums.


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

Course work includes

4 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)

Future availability

Digital forensics (M812) starts once a year – in May.

This page describes the module that will start in May 2025.

We expect it to start for the last time in May 2027.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Student Policies and Regulations 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.

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.


Start End England fee Register
01 May 2024 Oct 2024 -

Registration now closed

01 May 2025 Oct 2025 £1660.00

Registration closes 10/04/25 (places subject to availability)

This module is expected to start for the last time in May 2027.

Future availability

Digital forensics (M812) starts once a year – in May.

This page describes the module that will start in May 2025.

We expect it to start for the last time in May 2027.

Additional costs

Study costs

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

Ways to pay for this module

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, including a postgraduate loan, if you study this module as part of an eligible qualification. 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.

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).

Computing requirements

You’ll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11). Any macOS is unsuitable with this module.

Any additional software will be provided or is generally freely available.

To join in spoken conversations in tutorials, we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).

Our module websites comply with web standards and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.

Our OU Study mobile app will operate on all current, supported versions of Android and iOS. It’s not available on Kindle.

It’s also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you’ll also require a desktop or laptop as described above.

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 EPUB 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.

To find out more about what kind of support and adjustments might be available, contact us or visit our disability support pages.

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