• Coventry University logo

Symmetric Key Cryptography

Learn the fundamentals and practicalities of symmetric encryption, and how to break it.

  • Duration

    2 weeks
  • Weekly study

    10 hours

Explore the principles of symmetric key cryptography

Symmetric key cryptography requires that the sender and recipient of a secret message both know the ‘key’.

In this course we will examine this concept and modern implementations, as well as the trade-off between key size, security and performance.

What topics will you cover?

  • Symmetric key cryptography
  • DES, AES and other algorithms
  • Modes of operation
  • Key size, security and performance

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

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

  • Describe the theory and practice of symmetric cryptography and key exchange
  • Debate appropriate application of symmetric key cryptography under different circumstances
  • Identify the appropriate modes of operation, such as Electronic Code Book (ECB), Cipher Block Chaining (CBC) or Counter (CTR)
  • Demonstrate properties of various ciphers and modes, such as diffusion, error propagation

Who is the course for?

This course is for people who want to understand more about the way cryptography keeps our communications safe, either out of curiosity or to prepare for advanced study of the topic.

Who developed the course?

Coventry University

Coventry secured 5 QS Stars for Teaching and Online Learning in the QS World University Ranking 2020 and has received No. 1 in the world for Massive Open Online Courses in MoocLab’s World University Ranking 2021.

  • Established

  • Location


Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control

Want to know more about learning on FutureLearn? Using FutureLearn