Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Introduction to Blockchain, DLT's 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;
- Business issues pertaining to DLTs including crowdfunding, initial coin offerings (ICOs), security token offerings (STOs) and other offerings;
- Moderated keynote lectures to shed light on current and future trends that are shaping the DLT industry.

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; (iv) challenges and solutions in providing a decentralised ledger and applications that operate on top of it; (v) DLT business specific related matters; and (vi) a real-world view of various sectors by invited industry practitioners.

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;
- Describe DLT business operations and challenges;
- List challenges pertaining to DLT implementation in various business domains;
- Demonstrate appropriate solutions to how DLTs can be used in various domains;
- List real-world solutions, initiatives, and challenges in the practical deployment of DLTs.

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;
- Assess critically the real value and benefits which the deployment of DLTs is bringing in specific sectors of the economy;
- Assess how other business domains not covered within the unit can benefit from decentralisation and trade-offs decentralisation brings.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

- 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.
- Business Transformation through Blockchain Volume I. H. Treiblmaier and R. Beck. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-3-319-98911-2.
- Business Transformation through Blockchain Volume II. H. Treiblmaier and R. Beck. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-3-319-99058-3.

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture, Independent Study & Tutorial

Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment SEM1 Yes 50%
Assignment SEM2 Yes 50%

LECTURER/S Juanito Camilleri
Joshua Ellul
Jonathan Galea
Max Ganado
Gordon J. Pace
Tanya Sammut Bonnici
Matthew Scerri
Kurt Xerri

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 description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.