Computer Science: Computer Systems Security

Hack the hacker

Leading programme in Computer Systems Security

The Master track in Computer Systems Security focuses on system and security issues related to operating systems, hardware and applications (topics like hacking, malware, reverse engineering, vulnerabilities). This specialization in Computer Systems Security is a joint effort by VU Amsterdam and University of Amsterdam. The emphasis on system related issues is what sets this track apart from other master programmes on security, which tend to have a focus on formal methods or the math behind cryptography. You’ll be taught by leading researchers in the field of computer security. Many of the challenging courses have a very hands-on character.

Students graduating in the Computer Systems Security specialization have knowledge of

  • security issues in system-level software including weaknesses and defenses;
  • static and dynamic analysis techniques for software (benign and malicious);
  • modern scalable computer and network architecture;
  • secure software development for modern, highly parallel computer systems.


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emptyDownload the brochure Computer Science: Computer Systems Security

This track is a joint degree programme of the University of Amsterdam and VU Amsterdam. Courses are given at the two Faculties of Science. Graduates receive a diploma accredited by both universities.

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Track Computer Systems Security courses

For detailed information on the Computer Systems Security courses, please check our Study Guide.

Curriculum overview

The Master Program Computer Science is a two-year Master Program, consisting of 120 ECTS. 

General structure of the programme:
 

  • Master core
  • Track core
  • Restricted choices to cover all areas of competences
  • Free choice

Master core: (54EC)

Distributed Systems; laying the foundation of today’s IT systems where everything is connected with everything else

History of Digital Cultures; placing CS into its societal and historical context

Literature study and seminar; investigating existing solutions to a research question and presenting findings within one of the research groups

Master project (36EC); independently executing a project, turning everything learned so-far into a 'master piece'

Restricted choices: (6 - 18 EC)

For ensuring the breadth of the program, all students must have followed at least one course out of each of the following restricted choice areas. 

Foundations of Computing and Concurrency, choose one from: 
Logical Verification 
Term Rewriting Systems 
Distributed Algorithms 
Advanced Logic 
Protocol Validation
 

Mathematics, choose one from: 
Coding and Cryptography 
Experimental Design and Data Analysis 

Programming, choose one from: 
Individual Systems Practical
Internet programming 
Programming Multi-core and Many-core Systems 
Parallel Programming Practical 
Android lab 
Software Testing Practical 
Concurrency and Multithreading 
High Performance Computing and Big Data 

Software Engineering, choose one from: 
Service Oriented Design 
Software Asset Management 
Software Architecture 
Software Testing 

Specializations

The Master's programme of Computer Science currently offers six distinct tracks:

A track consists of 6 courses (potentially containing some constrained choices).

Track courses are only given in the 8-week periods.

The courses are scheduled in such a way that these can be followed consecutively during the first three semesters:
Semester 1 = Year 1, periods 1 & 2
Semester 2 = Year 1, periods 4 & 5
Semester 3 = Year 2, periods 1 & 2

Students are allowed to follow in Semester 1 track courses scheduled for Semester 3, and vice versa.
It is possible for students to change track after Semester 1.

Free choice: (18 - 30 EC)

A list of pre-approved courses for free choice, consisting of the restricted-choice courses, and all other courses (Master level) given by the CS dept of the VU and the Informatics Institute of the UvA. This explicitly covers courses from the Masters Artificial Intelligence, Bioinformatics, and Logics.  

Computer Science: Computer Systems Security courses in study guide.


Reputation of the programme
 
The Computer Science programme at VU Amsterdam has a solid reputation for its approach to the subject. One faculty member, Professor Andrew S. Tanenbaum recently won the prestigious IEEE James H. Mulligan Jr. Education Award and a grant from the European Research Council of 2.4 million euros. Also, nearly 100% of computer science students find a full-time job that matches their qualifications before the day of their graduation. As a student, you will profit from the expertise of VU Amsterdam’s research groups, and from their contacts at national and international level. 

Individual programme of study 
You will be encouraged to compile your personal programme of study, in consultation with your own coordinator who remains on hand to help with any queries you may have throughout your programme. 

Interdisciplinary programme 
Computer Science at VU Amsterdam is very broad and wide-ranging compared to other universities. You will choose a specialization as part of the programme. Beside the compulsory courses, you will have the opportunity to take optional courses from the whole range of computer science. 

International setting 
The city of Amsterdam is a very welcoming environment for international students and staff. Our Computer Science department is also very international-oriented: 40 nationalities are represented among our academic staff, and our students come from many more different countries.

If you would like to know more

Come to one of our information days or get in touch with a faculty representative.

Information days 
Order the brochure
Contact the Master's coordinator

Overview Computer Science: Computer Systems Security

Language of instruction

English

Duration

2 years

Tuition fee

Application deadline

15 July for Dutch students. 1 April for non-EU/EEA students; 1 April for EU and EEA students

Start date

1 September

Study type

Full-time

Field of Interest

Computer Science, Mathematics and Business

Dutch students

Please note that starting in 2016-2017 the Master’s programme Computer Science is a joint degree programme with the University of Amsterdam (UvA). Courses are given at the two Faculties of Science. Graduates receive a diploma accredited by both universities. 

The Computer Science programme is open to both Dutch and International Students with a background in Computer Science. Admission is based on a strict selection procedure. The Faculty’s Admission Board will decide upon your admission after having evaluated your complete online application. If you have read the admission criteria below and feel you are eligible for admission, please take the following steps to submit your application. Note that the initial application procedure is fully online and that scans of your relevant documents are required. 

Students with a Dutch degree from another university than VU Amsterdam can check the Dutch info on application here. Already a Master-student at VU and do you want to re-apply for next year? Please check VUnet. If you have nearly completed your Bachelor and want to do a Master, please apply on studielink.

Admission to a Master’s programme: the Bachelor-before-Master rule 

The Bachelor-before-Master rule is applied to all VU programmes. This means that you can only start a Master’s programme on 1 September if you have obtained your Bachelor’s degree. Uncompleted Bachelor’s subjects are not permitted if you want to start a Master programme. 

What does this mean now for students? - You may have to adjust your study plan. For example, if you’re planning a semester abroad in the first semester and you would like to start the following Master’s programme in September, please note that every part of the Bachelor’s study programme has to be completed – not only the compulsory parts of the programme. Other (short) interruptions of your study programme can also have an effect on your ability to proceed onto a Master’s programme. If the Bachelor’s programme is not fully completed, you cannot start the Master’s programme until the start of the next academic year. Take this into account when planning your study path! Please contact our faculty’s study advisors when you have any questions.

For more information on the track, courses, admission etc., please contact the track coordinator: Herbert Bos

General information about VU Amsterdam

Please phone us at +31 (0)20 598 5000 (Monday – Friday, 10:00 to 12:00). You may also e-mail us at study@vu.nl.

Would you like to read the key points of the Master's programme? Order the brochure. Or find out more about the Master's programmes and visit our information days.

International students

The Computer Science programme is open to both Dutch and International Students with a background in Computer Science. Admission is based on a strict selection procedure. The Faculty’s Admission Board will decide upon your admission after having evaluated your complete online application. 

In order to gain admission to the Computer Science Master’s programme, you will need to have at least a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited research university including at least three full years of academic study amounting to a minimum of 180 ECTS or equivalent. Academic writing skill is to be demonstrated by submitting a thesis. We do not require a GRE or GMAT test score. A Bachelor degree obtained at an applied university or higher vocational education (HBO in Dutch) in most cases does not grant direct access to the programme (only exceptionally high ranking students stand a chance of admission).

Specific requirements for the Computer Science master’s programme 

For admission to the Computer Science programme, a Bachelor degree in Computer Science or a closely related Bachelor is required. In general, we expect the following subjects to be part of your Bachelors programme:

- Programming
- Algorithms
- Computer Systems
- Computer Networks
- Software Engineering
- Logic

Any one of the following subjects will increase your chances of admission:

- Databases
- Automata
- Graph Theory
- Compilers
- Machine Learning or Artificial Intelligence
- Mathematics (Linear Algebra, Discrete Mathematics, Statistics)

This list is not exhaustive and having these courses on your diploma does not guarantee admission, however they are a strong indication of your admissibility.

General language proficiency requirements

VU Amsterdam requires international applicants to take an English test and to submit their score as a part of the application. Exceptions are made for students who have completed their education in Canada, USA, UK, Ireland, New Zealand or Australia or who have obtained an international Baccalaureate or European Baccalaureate diploma.

Admission to a Master’s programme: the Bachelor-before-Master rule 

The Bachelor-before-Master rule is applied to all VU programmes. This means that you can only start a Master’s programme on 1 September (or on 1 February) if you have obtained your Bachelor’s degree. Uncompleted Bachelor’s subjects are not permitted if you want to start a Master programme. 

What does this mean now for students? - You may have to adjust your study plan. For example, if you’re planning a semester abroad in the first semester and you would like to start the following Master’s programme in September, please note that every part of the Bachelor’s study programme has to be completed – not only the compulsory parts of the programme. Other (short) interruptions of your study programme can also have an effect on your ability to proceed onto a Master’s programme. If the Bachelor’s programme is not fully completed, you cannot start the Master’s programme until the start of the next academic year. Take this into account when planning your study path! Please contact our faculty’s study advisors when you have any questions.

Please note that starting in 2016-2017 the Master’s programme Computer Science is a joint degree programme with the University of Amsterdam (UvA). Courses are given at the two Faculties of Science. Graduates receive a diploma accredited by both universities. 

If you have read the admission criteria and feel you are eligible for admission, please take the following steps to submit your application. Note that the initial application procedure is fully online and that scans of your relevant documents are required. 

Students with a Dutch degree from another university than VU Amsterdam can check the Dutch info on application here.

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Step 1: Meet the admission criteria

Step 2: Prepare documents and apply online

Dutch students or students with a Dutch University degree, please follow: Online application for students with a Dutch University degree

Students with an international degree, please follow: Online application for students with an International University degree

For International degree holders, digital scans of the following documents are required:

  • Copy of your valid passport or ID (only for EU residents)
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • 2 Letters of recommendation
  • Letter of Motivation
  • Diploma(s) / statement of expected graduation
  • A transcript of the marks obtained during the Bachelor's programme.
  • Bachelor's or Master's thesis (written in English)
  • A description of the relevant courses you have taken during your previous higher education
  • A list of all the main literature used during your previous higher education 
  • English language test 

Detailed descriptions of the required documents can be found here

Step 3: Await decision on admission

The admission board will review your application as soon as it is complete. Normally this takes about four weeks, but it might take longer in busy periods so be sure to apply as soon as possible. If you gain admission, you will receive a letter of conditional admission by email. You can start planning your move to Amsterdam!

Step 4: Finalize your registration and move to Amsterdam!

Make sure to finalize your registration as a student before the start of the programme. The conditions include sending a certified copy of your diploma and submitting the results of your English language test. Also, arrange payment of the tuition fees or authorize VU Amsterdam to withdraw the fees (you need to have a European bank account for this option). Here you will find an explanation of the registration procedure and the relevant deadlines. When all conditions are met you will receive a confirmation of your registration and you will be ready to start your programme at VU Amsterdam!

Further information about

Accommodation
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Scholarships

Contact for international degree students

For detailed questions about the Master’s programmes or the application procedure contact your International Student Advisor at the International Office: 

Central International Office

International Student Advisor:
Erik van Zwol
Tel + 31 (0)20 598 7499 
E admissionsfs@vu.nl

For more information on the track, courses, admission etc., please contact the track coordinator: Herbert Bos 

Practical information for international students

Would you like to know more about our courses, scholarships and application & registration procedure? Please contact our International Office.

Email: admissionsfs@vu.nl

General information about VU Amsterdam

Please phone us at +31 (0)20 598 5000 (Monday – Friday, 10:00 to 12:00). You may also e-mail us at study@vu.nl.

Would you like to read the key points of the Master's programme? Order the brochure. Or find out more about the Master's programmes and visit our information days.