The events of September 11, 2001 stunned the world and left a bitter memory of death and destruction for thousands. The public's awareness of the need for security soared. International companies are looking for people to protect their assets and employees from terrorism and other potential threats. This increased the demand for professionals in security management. To meet the growing need, Hong Kong CyberU, the first locally-based institute in cyberspace is offering a master's degree in Security Management jointly with Edith Cowan University in Australia. Jeff Corkill, the leader of the programme, said that the course 'aims to increase the level of professionalism among security management people operating in all areas of the security domain such as government security, military security, airport security management, retail and facilities security, corporate security, risk and crisis management and security consulting'. The programme is structured into three stages which are to be completed in 21/2 to three years of part-time study. The first stage focuses on basic core skills required by a security professional. Topics such as security and risk management, physical security, building management systems and intrusion detection systems are covered. The second stage is more research orientated. Students undertake small-scale research projects across a range of security topics such as advanced security risk management, current issues in security and advances in security technology. The final stage is a substantive research project. Students can choose a particular aspect of security management on which to focus their research. Each student has a supervisor from Edith Cowan University to advise them. 'The programme is designed to meet the learning needs of professional security managers seeking to acquire in-depth knowledge about security risk, security principles, security technology, risk management and security management. The course is most suited to middle level security managers who are preparing to be promoted to higher ranks,' said Dr Corkill. Most study materials are delivered through the internet. Additional printed notes and CD-Roms will be sent to students by post. Industry professionals will conduct face-to-face tutorials at the Polytechnic University campus. Danny Ho Wai-yin, vice-president of corporate security of a global investment bank, took the course because it was practical and the time was flexible. 'The programme is a research degree. I am able to do in-depth research on topics that are related to my work. This provides me with a lot of on-the-job assistance,' he said. Mr Ho focuses on asset protection, securing company information from competitors and preventing employees from stealing information. He also provides travel security support to employees who need to go on business trips. 'For example, I will prepare them for handling emergency situations such as earthquakes while working overseas.' Mr Ho said the degree was mainly about doing research, and the lectures in the classroom were secondary. He travelled a lot and was not always available for lectures, but it was not a problem because the course was mostly about personal learning. 'I can work according to my own schedule, allowing me to balance work, life and studies,' Mr Ho said. 'This is certainly crucial for many students like me who have a full-time job.' Dominic Leung Lee-shing who has a background in criminal investigation said the programme gave him a whole new perspective about security. 'When people talk about security they usually think of watchmen and bodyguards, but there is much more,' he said. 'Security is a diverse field. There is information security, protection of witnesses and much more. Security management is very much involved with our daily life. For example, nowadays many people work and live in high-rise buildings, and fire security in these buildings is everybody's business,' he said. Mr Leung said the programme was delivered online, giving him a chance to sharpen his IT skills because he had to submit assignments and do research using the computer. Applicants need an undergraduate degree to apply, but professional experience is also considered. Students with five years or more professional experience are also accepted. There were 25 to 30 students enrolled in each of the two semesters during the academic year. The programme was first introduced in 2005 and is also available in Singapore and Dubai. The degree awarded is the same as for on-campus students.