Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Introduction to Blockchain, DLTs and Cryptocurrencies

LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course


DEPARTMENT Centre for Distributed Ledger Technologies

DESCRIPTION This unit is intended as a general introduction to the basics of blockchain and distributed ledger technologies (DLTs) and their applications. This unit will give the student a thorough understanding of what blockchain and DLTs are to be able to evaluate how and to what extent such systems can bring change to their life.

Without making any assumptions of technical knowledge, the way blockchain systems store and process information, and how they provide certain guarantees on safety, security and dependability is explained. This is complemented with an exposition of how smart contracts use blockchain structures to enforce behavior on a blockchain. These foundations are used to explain different applications of the technology, including but not limited to cryptocurrencies. The challenges and approaches to implementing policy, regulation and legislation, of cryptocurrencies and DLTs will also be discussed.

An introduction to the following topics will be covered:

- Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technologies
- Smart Contracts
- Cryptocurrencies
- Applications of blockchain
- Regulatory aspects of blockchain systems

Study-unit Aims:

The aim of this study-unit is that of introducing the students to (i) Blockchain, Distributed Ledger Technologies and Cryptocurrencies; (ii) their uses and applications; (iii) the general concepts of decentralisation, trust, immutability and consensus; and (iv) challenges and solutions in providing a decentralised ledger and applications that operate on top of it.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- Differentiate the way blockchain applications work as opposed from the approach used by centralized systems;
- Explain fundamentals of blockchain technologies and how it goes beyond cryptocurrency;
- Compare and evaluate blockchain applications and their implications on standard workprocesses;
- Follow ongoing developments and applications in blockchain.

2. Skills
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- Use blockchain applications, including but not limited to basic cryptocurrencies;
- Research and assess how novel blockchain applications work;
- Assess use of blockchain applications to evaluate potential risks and non-risks when adopted in e.g. eGovernment;
- Discuss the appropriateness of blockchain systems for concrete applications;
- Evaluate proposed blockchain solutions in e.g. health, education, etc., by being able to identify the advantages and disadvantages they offer.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Main texts

- New Scientist, The End of Money: The story of bitcoin, cryptocurrencies and the blockchain revolution. John Murray. Learning Publishers, ISBN: 978-1857886696, 2017.
- The Bitcoin Standard: The Decentralized Alternative to Central Banking. Saifedean Ammous. ISBN: 978-1119473862, 2018.

Supplementary readings

- Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin Is Changing Money, Business, and the World. Don Tapscott. Penguin Publishing. ISBN: 978-1101980132, May 2016.

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture and Independent Study

Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment SEM1 Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Joshua Ellul (Co-ord.)
Gordon J. Pace

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the study-unit description above applies to the academic year 2019/0, if study-unit is available during this academic year, and may be subject to change in subsequent years.