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Options at 16- The Cyber Extended Project Qualification (CyberEPQ)


Teenage girl completing her CyberEPQ on her laptop smiling

During your child’s time in Year 12 and Year 13, many schools or colleges will offer the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) alongside their A-Level or BTEC study. The CyberEPQ offers many similarities to the standard Extended Project Qualification, however, the main difference being the CyberEPQ provides its students an opportunity to gain a holistic understanding of cyber security, know how cyber security processes work in real life, inside knowledge of the cyber industry and instils confidence to pursue a career in cyber.



The structure of the CyberEPQ

Rather than your child being able to complete their research and written project on any subject as with the standard EPQ, with the CyberEPQ, students are provided the learning content through an online learning platform called the Moodle. The Moodle takes students through 10 mandatory modules in cyber and students then go on to complete 1 of 3 specialist modules. The modules are made up of online learning sessions, quizzes, games and further reading articles.


The mandatory modules are:

  • An Introduction to Cyber

  • History of Computing and Cryptography

  • Cybercrime

  • Risk Assessment, Management and Governance (part 1 and part 2)

  • Security Testing and Vulnerability Assessment

  • Digital Forensics • Incident Response Management

  • Identity and Access Management (Authentication, Authorisation and Accountability)

  • Security Audit, Compliance, and Insurance


The specialist modules are:

  • A Human aspect of Cyber Security

  • Pen Testing

  • Software Security and Architecture


CyberEPQ students work through these modules and on completion, reflect on what they have learnt, any further reading that has taken place, any problems they have encountered and potential solutions to these problems in a journal. This journal is used by the student to create a title for their written project. They can do this by identifying which module they enjoyed the most, a module they think they could see a potential career for themselves in or a module they wanted to find out more on.


Asian mother and son looking through school notes together


How the CyberEPQ is assessed

The CyberEPQ is accredited by the exam board City and Guilds. Its students are assessed on the CyberEPQ through completion of their journal, a production log which documents the student journey, a 5,000-word written project and through completing a presentation about their written project and their overall experience on the CyberEPQ including their time and project management.


The final project is then marked by a supervisor prior to submission where it will then go through both internal and external moderation processes.


Students with specific educational needs are also able to provide an artefact alongside a written report of 1,000 words rather than solely just a written project, however, this must be agreed by CIISec at the start of the course.



Teenage boy wearing headphones makes notes for homework

The benefits of completing the CyberEPQ

Similarly, to the standard EPQ, the CyberEPQ is a Level 3 qualification. This is equivalent to half an A-Level and worth up to 28 UCAS points. This means that universities often lower their A-Level or BTEC grade expectation if they know a student is completing the CyberEPQ alongside their other subjects. Therefore, it is a great way for your child to boost their UCAS points. The CyberEPQ as an Extended Project Qualification is a recognised qualification to add to your child’s UCAS application and a great talking point in personal statements, CVs, and interviews.


The CyberEPQ also develops and enhances many soft study skills in its students that help them during the next stages in their study. The CyberEPQ is mainly an independent task, bridging the gap between school and college work to the next steps students are about to take to university, apprenticeships, and careers in the future.


The Moodle contains a ‘Project Writing Assistance Area’ which aims to promote these skills as much as possible. Here, there are online sessions teaching students about:

  • University standard essay writing skills

  • Research skills

  • Planning, organisation, and time management skills

  • Presentation skills

  • Referencing skills and plagiarism

  • How to reflect and improve work



Why should my child be interested in Cyber and the CyberEPQ?

Your child does not need to be currently studying computer science or must be convinced they want a career in the cyber industry to complete the CyberEPQ. Cyber awareness is important in all career paths to adapt safe practices. However, there are 3.5 million workers needed in the cyber industry with this number only increasing. This is a due to a skills gap being present.


The cyber industry is looking to diversify and encourages particularly women, people who are neurodiverse, people from lower socio-economic backgrounds and of all races to recognise that there is a much-needed place for them in a cyber career. Due to the skills gap, 15% of cyber workers earn over £100,000 a year whilst also being provided the opportunity to keep the nation safe.


Misconceptions are in place about jobs in the industry, that it is all about technical skills when this is not the case. Cyber jobs require people to be problem solvers, critical thinkers, imaginative and creative. CyberEPQ captures and expands all these attributes while allowing its students to experience a general taste of cyber to learn where their passion lies. If cyber is your child’s passion and they know it is what they want to do in their future, then having the CyberEPQ gets them ahead of the competition and displays their passion and commitment to their desired career in the cyber industry. The CyberEPQ provides a perfect steppingstone into the next step into their career in cyber. Even if they do not pursue a cyber career, the skills learned will be invaluable in most, if not all, other careers.


Teenage girl smiling to the camera in an IT classroom


How does the CyberEPQ enhance my child’s opportunity to access the Cyber industry?

The CyberEPQ is brought to you by the Chartered Institute of Information Security (CIISec). CIISec is a membership organisation that helps individuals and organisations develop capability and competency in cyber and information security. The Chartered Institute of Information Security was the first cyber and information security institution to be granted Royal Charter status and is dedicated to continuously raising the standards in the profession. CIISec provides a universally accepted focal point for the cyber and information security profession. It is an independent not-for-profit body governed by its members. It is the natural home for the cyber professional community at every career stage, representing over 35,000 individuals. This is achieved through having programmes that support Development, Recognition and Success.


After your child completes the CyberEPQ, no matter what grade they achieve, they will be eligible for a one-year free membership to CIISec. Students achieving grades A* to B are also able to use the post nominals AfCIIS helping them to stand out from the crowd. Membership of CIISec gives them access to our Early Development Team with connections to our academic partnerships at universities and apprenticeship training providers.


Teenage boy with Downs Syndrome working on his laptop in his bedroom

Through this membership, your child will also have access to online masterclasses for continued professional development, be invited to networking events to meet, and learn from professionals in the industry and be supported throughout their cyber career.


On completion of the CyberEPQ, students have the opportunity to join our LinkedIn CyberEPQ Alumni page. Here, students can connect with other likeminded people including those from academia and industry from across the UK and graduates in the same position as themselves or who have gone on to progress further. This creates a community of CyberEPQ champions who can all learn from each other and offer a helping hand. Opportunities and news are also uploaded onto here.


As well as individual membership, CIISec also have an abundance of corporate members and CIISec is working towards sustainable funding of the CyberEPQ through this pipeline. This will create talent pipelines for students to gain experience straight from industry partners.



But what can my child do if they are under 16 years old?

CIISec delivers the Headstart programme for children under 16 years old as an introduction to cyber. The Headstart programme is advised to be completed at around 14 years old before children choose their GCSE options. This encourages your child to choose computer science and STEM subjects by eradicating misconceptions, creating enjoyment and excitement towards these topics. During the Headstart programme your child will go through all the same modules presented within the CyberEPQ. This means its students gain all the same knowledge and understanding of cyber as they do while completing the CyberEPQ. All its students will need to complete is a journal reflection at the end of each module, the Headstart programme does not involve completing a written project or a presentation.


There are no time pressures when completing the Headstart programme, its students can work through it at their own pace, and even, within groups. Its students get a certificate of completion when finishing this programme and can transfer onto the CyberEPQ when they turn 16 years old having already gained a ‘head start’ through knowing all the content and having completed their journal. This is a fantastic opportunity to spread the workload out during your child’s education, while having the cyber knowledge from a younger age and still going onto their next steps with that extra qualification under their belt.


Father and daughter smiling to each other in front of the laptop

The Cyber Extended Project Qualification (CyberEPQ) presents a unique opportunity for students to delve deep into the field of cybersecurity while enhancing their skills and prospects for future academic and career endeavours. Here's a breakdown of the key points and benefits:

 

  1. Holistic Understanding of Cybersecurity: The CyberEPQ provides a comprehensive overview of cybersecurity, covering various aspects such as cybercrime, risk assessment, digital forensics, incident response, and more. This enables students to gain a broad understanding of the field.

  2. Specialist Modules: Students have the flexibility to choose from three specialist modules, allowing them to explore specific areas of interest within cybersecurity, such as the human aspect of cybersecurity, pen testing, or software security and architecture.

  3. Assessment Structure: Assessment includes completion of a journal, a production log documenting the student's journey, a 5,000-word written project, and a presentation. This multifaceted approach ensures students develop essential skills such as research, time management, and presentation abilities.

  4. Recognition and Accreditation: The CyberEPQ is accredited by the exam board City and Guilds, making it a recognized qualification that adds value to students' UCAS applications and resumes. It is equivalent to half an A-Level and can earn students up to 28 UCAS points.

  5. Soft Skill Development: In addition to technical knowledge, the CyberEPQ fosters the development of soft skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, organization, and time management. These skills are essential for success in higher education and future careers.

  6. Career Opportunities: The cybersecurity industry is rapidly growing, with a significant demand for skilled professionals. Completing the CyberEPQ not only prepares students for potential careers in cybersecurity but also enhances their employability across various sectors due to the transferable nature of the skills acquired.

  7. Membership Benefits: Upon completion of the CyberEPQ, students are eligible for a one-year free membership to the Chartered Institute of Information Security (CIISec). This membership provides access to professional development resources, networking opportunities, and support throughout their cyber career journey.

  8. Community Engagement: Students can join the LinkedIn CyberEPQ Alumni page to connect with peers, academics, and industry professionals. This creates a supportive community where students can learn from each other, share opportunities, and stay updated on industry news and developments.

  9. Industry Partnerships: CIISec works with corporate members to create talent pipelines, providing students with opportunities to gain real-world experience and connect with industry partners for potential career opportunities.

 

Overall, the CyberEPQ offers students a valuable pathway to develop both technical knowledge and essential skills, preparing them for success in higher education, the workforce, and the dynamic field of cybersecurity.

 

If you would like to find out more information about CIISec as a whole organisation, or more about the CyberEPQ and Headstart programme then please visit our websites:

 

Chartered Institute of Information Security logo

If you have any specific questions about the CyberEPQ or Headstart programme, then please do not hesitate to get in touch with us on our emails below:


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