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CyberFirst is a pivotal part of the UK government’s National Cyber Security Programme. It covers a broad range of activities; a comprehensive bursary scheme, a girls only competition and development courses at UK universities and colleges. Each activity is designed to give talented young people the support, skills, experience and exposure they need to become cyberists of the future.

What are Cyberists?

Cyberists are intrigued by unexplored technology. Dedicated to fulfilling a bigger role in society. Keen to protect friends, families, communities and commerce. Determined to make an impact. Eager to learn and never let up. They are our new generation of cyber security experts. As technology enhances more and more of our daily life, cyberists will be the ones who’ll safeguard it from all manner of threats. Cyber security roles are constantly evolving, consistently challenging and crammed with potential. They could be anybody – and they could come from anywhere. To help find them, support them and train them, we’ve created CyberFirst.

  • CyberFirst Bursary

    A CyberFirst bursary is a six-year programme of expert support that gives you the funding, experience, skills and exposure to launch yourself into one of the most exciting careers in technology. It covers three stages of your career:

    1. University: during the years you study at university, you will receive a bursary of £4,000 per year, tax-free.

    2. Each summer: we’ll find you paid employment during the holidays, or bespoke training within government or industry, for which you’ll be paid £250 per week.

    3. After graduation: we aim to place you in a three-year graduate-level cyber security role within government or industry.

    All we require is for you to have an offer to study, or be in your first year of studying, a STEM-related degree at a UK University. You will also need either 3 A-levels at Grade B or above (or equivalent qualifications); or be able to prove clearly that you have a good understanding of computers, how they work and how to secure them.

    For full details, click here.

  • CyberFirst Adventurers

    A free one-day development course aimed at those who have not yet made their GCSE choices (12-14) and their parents, teachers and guardians.

    Complex jargon and terminology can be enough to put anyone off. Not for much longer: our CyberFirst Adventurers events are designed to de-mystify computing, privacy and our everyday use of technology. An ideal experience for anyone who might require some encouragement to study computer science at GCSE.

    For full details, see

  • CyberFirst Defenders

    A free four-day residential and non-residential course aimed at 14 to 15 year-olds.

    This is a valuable introduction to all the tools, knowledge and skills cyberists need to build and protect small networks and personal devices. It complements the GCSE computer science curriculum and takes it a step further, offering practical methods to help protect and secure everyday devices, apps and software.

    For full details, see

  • CyberFirst Futures

    A free five-day residential and non-residential course aimed at 15 to 16 year-olds.

    This is for anyone who is looking to study computer science at AS/A Levels, or equivalents (or beyond) and wants to enhance their cyber skills even further. Students on the course explore advanced cyber security threats to devices, apps and software, and investigate different methods of protecting them.

    For full details, see

  • CyberFirst Advanced

    A free five-day residential and non-residential course aimed at 16 to 17 year-olds.

    This is designed to expand the knowledge of anyone studying computer science (this time, at AS/A Levels or equivalents), or any student who has a real interest in and aptitude for computers. On this course, students set about securing interconnected networks and learning how to probe for vulnerabilities. It’s challenging work, but there’s always an expert on hand to teach students fresh skills and techniques

    For full details, see

  • CyberFirst Girls Competition

    Many young women rule themselves out of a career in cyber security – and that means we’re missing out on an extraordinarily talented group of people. We want to change that.

    GCHQ is offering school girls aged between 13 and 15 a unique opportunity to tackle a fun and challenging competition. We’re inviting teams of four girls to work their way through a series of online cyber challenges, each designed to test their ingenuity to the limit.

    Tricky? That’s the idea. Along the way, however, we will offer many hints and tips to help teams progress through the competition. We’ll also provide the all-important ‘Teachers’ Guide’ to help teachers mentor their teams.

    The top ten teams will be invited to attend a Grand Final and prize-giving.

    For full details about how to enter, competition rules and dates, see

From gaming to game-changing

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"I've always had an independent streak - which is encouraged here."

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Linguist. Learner. Leader.

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Departments and Roles at GCHQ