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Introduction to Encryption and Cryptography

Learn how encryption keeps information safe, and teach your students how it's used in the world today. Supported by Google.

6,046 enrolled on this course

Introduction to Encryption and Cryptography
The CPD Certification Service

This course has been certified by the CPD Certification Service as conforming to continuing professional development principles. Find out more.

Discover the history of encryption and learn how it's used in the modern world

On this course, you will learn about what encryption is and understand its use in the past by using the Caesar and Vigenère ciphers.

You will also look at the present and future of encryption and investigate both symmetric and asymmetric encryption schemes.

The course includes several practical encryption activities which you can complete and use in your own classroom.


  • Week 1

    Encryption and substitution ciphers

    • Welcome to the course

      An introduction to the course, the course team, and your fellow learners.

    • The history of encryption

      What is encryption, and how has it been used?

    • Encryption algorithms

      An introduction to the encryption process, using the Caesar cipher as an example

    • The importance of complexity

      How can adding complexity to an encryption algorithm make it harder to break?

  • Week 2

    Modern encryption

    • Modern applications of encryption

      An introduction to the week, with a discussion about the ethics of encryption.

    • Symmetric and asymmetric encryption

      What's the difference between these two types of encryption? How do we use both in the modern world?

    • Encryption in network security

      How is encryption used on modern networks?

    • End of week 2

      Summarising what you have learnt this week

  • Week 3

    Encryption in the classroom & the future

    • Welcome to week 3

      An introduction to the week

    • Measuring encryption

      Can encryption be "perfect"? How can we decide on which encryption to use? Will this change in the future?

    • Teaching encryption

      Advice and example activities to use for teaching about encryption in the classroom

    • Applying what you have learnt

      Practical encryption activities to test your new knowledge

    • End of the course

      Wrapping up, and next steps for you to continue your learning journey

Who is this accredited by?

The CPD Certification Service
The CPD Certification Service:

The CPD Certification Service was established in 1996 and is the leading independent CPD accreditation institution operating across industry sectors to complement the CPD policies of professional and academic bodies.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and learn at your own pace. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Describe the general process of encryption and decryption
  • Apply a Caesar Cipher and a Vigenère Cipher
  • Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of different encryption algorithms
  • Compare symmetric and asymmetric encryption
  • Demonstrate methods of breaking simple encryption schemes
  • Describe how encryption is used in the modern world, and some of the possible ethical implications of this

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for teachers delivering computer science lessons in the classroom, at GCSE level or equivalent.

What software or tools do you need?

There are several optional steps involving using Python to implement some forms of encryption. To complete these you will need a Python IDE, either on your computer, or an online one like Trinket

Who will you learn with?

Who developed the course?

Raspberry Pi Foundation

The Raspberry Pi Foundation works to put the power of digital making into the hands of people all over the world, so they are capable of understanding and shaping our increasingly digital world.

National Centre for Computing Education

National Centre for Computing Education courses


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