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I changed my mind about cyber security!

MSc Information Security graduate Marcel Fehr discusses cybercrime, the Information Security Group, and returning to study after 20 years.

Written by Keith McDonald |

Marcel Fehr studied Information Security
'My main motivation was to do an English-language degree from England and also to achieve a well-known academic degree....'

Swiss graduate Marcel Fehr is already established in the field of information security. He’s lived in Australia and has a wealth of life experience.

Yet, twenty years after completing his Bachelor’s degree in Switzerland, he returned to study, taking up the distance-learning MSc in Information Security offered by Royal Holloway, University of London.

“My main motivation was to do an English-language degree from England and also to achieve a well-known academic degree – that's what Royal Holloway is famous for,” he says.

“They've got excellence in cyber-security from GCHQ.

“I finally thought – I want to keep my language skills, I want to do an English degree. And Royal Holloway offered it all. It was the perfect match for me.”

‘Completely different’, ‘fun’ experience

Most striking for Marcel, returning to study after two decades, was the flexibility and study support offered by the University of London.

I could go at my own pace. I could keep a balance between work life and studying,” he explains. “It's completely different to full-time in Europe.

“I enjoyed the mind-set in England – the openness, the great support through all levels,” he adds. “You have the tutor, the manager of the course – they're all very helpful.

“In the online seminars, you go very much into the details and current affairs as well. That was fun – literally!

“My favourite module was cyber-crime and cyber law,” he notes. “In the UK, this is still very much related to European law, despite Brexit. But it was a real mind-set change.

“We talk about cyber security and openness, about how everybody can surf and do whatever they want. After experiencing the cyber-crime module, I changed my mind!”

Information security
'My favourite module was cyber-crime and cyber law, in the UK, this is still very much related to European law, despite Brexit.'

Value of a UK degree

Another advantage of a British degree, which only really manifests itself once you’re engaged with the course, is the ability to see things differently.

This proved quite a bonus for Marcel, who was looking to expand from his technical background.

“Another main motivation was to widen and broaden my knowledge and to attack the domain from a different angle,” he explains. “I think it broadens your horizons.”

The degree has also opened up further career opportunities for Marcel, who begins a new job in management consulting in June.

“I wouldn't have got it without the academic degree”, he says. “This has opened a new door for me.”

Everybody knows Royal Holloway

Marcel is clearly proud of his affiliation with the Information Security Group at Royal Holloway, which is responsible for the creation, direction and assessment for the degree.

The course was also the first by distance learning to be granted full certification from GCHQ, the UK intelligence organisation. This certification has now passed to the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).

“When you study for an academic degree and you know that they do research actively in these areas, it's a sign that I have chosen the right institution,” Marcel says.

If I'm in England, literally everybody knows Royal Holloway. If I'm in Switzerland, people are impressed because there is nothing similar.