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GCHQ awards cyber security approval to 6 Master’s degrees

GCHQ has rubber stamped six Master’s degrees in cyber security that it hopes increases the country’s defences against all facets of a critical threat.

Related: GCHQ shocked by “intimate bodyparts” while spying on millions of webcams

Several different types of courses received the accreditation with four getting the full-certified status whereas another two were awarded provisional certified status that leads to an institution becoming fully approved.

“The development of GCHQ-certified Master’s degrees will help the successful universities to promote the quality of their courses and assist prospective students to make better informed choices when looking for a highly valued qualification. It will also assist employers to differentiate between candidates when employing Cyber Security staff,” read a release from GCHQ.

The full-certified status courses are Edinburgh Napier University’s MSc in Advanced Security and Digital Forensics, Lancaster University’s MSc in Cyber Security, University of Oxford’s MSc in Software and Systems Security, and Royal Holloway, University of London’s MSc in Information Security.

Those that managed to get provisional certified status are Cranfield University’s MSc in Cyber Defence and Information Assurance and University of Surrey’s MSc in Information Security.

Earlier this year universities were invited by GCHQ to submit cyber security Master’s degrees for consideration and the surveillance agency judged them against stringent criteria before picking the six lucky programmes mentioned above.

GCHQ will be calling for more degree programmes to apply for accreditation towards the end of 2014 and it will allow other areas, such as digital forensics, to be included.

Related: David Cameron: “GCHQ snooping keeps us safe”

"We want to make the UK one of the safest places in the world to do business online. Through the excellent work of GCHQ, in partnership with other government departments, the private sector and academia, we are able to counter threats and ensure together we are stronger and more aware,” said Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office.