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Meet our alumni: Sapna Patel


Blue graphic with mortar boards and the words Meet our Alumni

A student on our part-time professional Masters programme in software and systems security discusses her time studying at Oxford. 

What led you to choose to study software and systems security?  

I wanted a change of career to work in cyber security and chose a masters degree to obtain knowledge of the area. I have worked in IT for many years and love technology but I did not have any prior cyber security experience. I was looking for a masters course with GCHQ accreditation. When following the GCHQ module pathway I have been trying to attend the more technical modules, in contrast to my most recent career roles which had become less technical in nature. Although we have the option to take software engineering modules, all my selected 10 modules have been security modules, as having many years software engineering experience, I wanted to gain new knowledge and avoid modules covering ground where I have previous experience/knowledge.  

What was your academic background before doing this course? 

After focusing on science subjects during A levels, I chose a BSc in Economics at the London School of Economics for my first degree. Immediately after my BSc, I completed an MSc in Computer Science at University College London.  

How will your studies contribute to your professional career?  

My IT career comprised of software development, software development management, project and programme management. The course has exposed me to an IT sector that I intend to work in and having completed just under three quarters of the course in 18 months, I am optimistic it will take my career in a new direction soon.  

How have you found being a part-time student?  

How have you fitted studying into your working and home life? The assignments require significant time and dedication to be invested in order to do well in them. I have been working through the modules quickly with some overlap between them. I tend to allocate blocks of time and prioritise assignments to complete them.  

What has been your most useful experience on the course so far?  

I really like catching up with other students that I have met from previous lectures. I really wish we could do more socialising. I have enjoyed all the modules, but my favourites so far have been SIM (incident management) and MSS (mobile and IOT security): both surprised me. MSS had a large amount of content and was hard work but I learnt a lot from it. SIM surprised me as it didn’t only focus on management perspectives, but was technical in nature too, if delved into in all aspects. I suspect that my last 3 modules I have yet to do will also be interesting: Design for security, Malware, and Forensics. I have enjoyed returning to University and studying once again so much, and knew I had the right mind set to study this intense course. I enjoy the social aspects of the course and expanding my knowledge.