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Introduction to Blockchain Technology and Applications

Explore blockchain technology, how it can be used to solve business problems, and its potential to disrupt socioeconomic systems.

Introduction to Blockchain Technology and Applications

Delve into blockchain technology’s beginnings and its ever-growing applications

Blockchain technology is essential to Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other cryptocurrencies, but its applications go far beyond that. In this four-week Blockchain course, University College London (UCL) Centre for Blockchain Technologies introduces the mechanics of blockchain and explores what they can achieve.

By the end you’ll understand how blockchain and distributed ledger technology (DLT) can be used to solve diverse business problems, going far beyond financial concerns.

Build solid blockchain theory and use foundations

The course starts with blockchain’s beginnings, exploring its start in Bitcoin, its evolution in Ethereum, and beyond. Once you understand how blockchain and DLT work, you’ll see how they foster decentralisation across business operations.

Deepen your blockchain understanding with real-world examples

The theory that you’ll learn on this course is accompanied by practical case study examples and testimonials from real-world companies who are using blockchain and DLT.

You’ll see how the technologies are improving supply chains, data reconciliation, and overall transparency; changing the way businesses make decisions; and disrupting conventional socioeconomic systems.

Learn from the leaders in blockchain technology education

This blockchain course was specifically created by the UCL Centre for Blockchain Technologies, the world’s oldest and largest academic blockchain institution.

The Centre brings its years of experience in pioneering executive education for blockchain and DLT to this course and will support you as you learn from leading experts.

The flexibility of online study makes the blockchain course ideally suited to busy working professionals, allowing you to upskill and take your career to the next level without missing a beat.

Syllabus

  • Week 1

    What is blockchain?

    • Let's get started

      In this first part of the course, you'll meet Thiago Earp from the UCL Centre for Blockchain Technologies. He'll explain why learning about blockchain is essential, and what to expect over the next four weeks.

    • What problems does blockchain solve?

      Let's explore what types of problems blockchain solves. We will cover a brief history of the development of blockchain, discuss who the anonymous founder of the technology could be, and what properties a blockchain system carries.

    • Who's involved?

      Next we'll find out who's involved in the blockchain ecosystem. We'll also look at where different stakeholders fit into the constituent parts of a blockchain, and find out which problems and sectors you are interested in.

    • Betsy and its bright blockchain future!

      Introducing Betsy, a fictional company that we will be following in later weeks as we go deeper into the properties of blockchain systems that we have explored this week.

    • End of week wrap-up

      In the final steps this week, you will be able to check your learning through a quiz, and we’ll summarise what you’ve learnt so far. You’ll also get a brief introduction to what you’ve got to look forward to next week.

  • Week 2

    Decentralised finance (DeFi) and the role of cryptocurrency in payments

    • Problems with payments and decentralisation

      Firstly this week we’ll hear from Anna about some problems that Betsy is experiencing with payments and decentralisation of their business processes. We'll also hear from Thiago about what we've got coming up this week.

    • Decentralisation versus centralisation

      Let's explore the concept of decentralisation and how it's related to blockchains and business operations. We’ll also talk about disintermediation and how blockchains can improve information and communications between users.

    • Blockchain payments and cryptography

      Let's hear from some experts who will help Anna understand how Betsy can solve its payment problems with blockchain. You'll also learn more about how cryptography is used in blockchains.

    • Consensus, DeFi and meet Ripple

      In these steps, you'll learn more about consensus mechanisms that are used in blockchains. You'll also hear from Ripple, a blockchain payments company, and learn about decentralised finance (DeFi) applications.

    • End of week wrap-up

      In the final few steps this week, you will be able to check your learning through a quiz, and we’ll summarise what you’ve learnt so far. You’ll also get a brief introduction to what you’ve got to look forward to next week.

  • Week 3

    Applications of blockchain outside of finance

    • Anna's business evolves

      In the first few steps this week, we’ll hear from Anna about how Betsy’s growing business is beginning to cause issues in their supply chain. We’ll also hear from Thiago about what we’ve got coming our way this week.

    • Smart contracts

      Let's look more closely at smart contracts and how they can reduce the cost of formalising relationships in business.

    • Case study: Blockchain and supply chain

      Let's look at a practical deployment of blockchain in a precision medicine supply chain solution, courtesy of DXC Technology. We'll also try and find some other examples of blockchain supply chain solutions—there are many!

    • The UCL CBT framework

      Now let's look at the UCL Blockchain Framework, designed by researchers at the UCL Centre for Blockchain Technologies. We'll also begin to think about legal and regulatory issues that blockchain technology may face.

    • End of week wrap-up

      In the final part of this week, you'll get the opportunity to test your learning with a quiz. You'll also hear from Thiago, recapping what we've covered this week and what you've got to look forward to next week.

  • Week 4

    Benefits of blockchain and cryptocurrencies

    • What can we trust?

      Let's explore how blockchain can help to improve transparency and trust. We'll also hear from Anna about how Betsy is exploring new business models that can be helped by blockchain, and we'll take a look at tokenisation.

    • Proving provenance

      How can tokenisation be applied to Betsy? Let's find out as Anna gets advice from another blockchain expert from UCL. We'll also take a look at blockchain governance, and test your learning so far with a quiz.

    • Further applications of blockchain

      Next we'll explore more use cases for blockchain technology, and hear from our industry leaders on how they see blockchain evolving in the near future.

    • End of the course reflection

      Finally, we'll look at some practical ways you can continue to build your blockchain knowledge, before reflecting on everything you've learned so far. Well done for completing the course!

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.

Learning on this course

You can take this self-guided course and learn at your own pace. 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...

  • Explain what problems blockchains solve
  • Describe what the properties of a blockchain system are
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the key stakeholders in the blockchain ecosystem
  • Compare decentralised and centralised systems, what the pros and cons of both are and why decentralisation is a key property of a blockchain
  • Explain how blockchains could be used for payments
  • Describe how cryptography and consensus mechanisms are used in blockchain systems
  • Demonstrate knowledge of how blockchain can be used in supply chains
  • Explain what smart contracts are, how they can be applied and how they differ from conventional contracts
  • Apply the UCL Blockchain Framework to see if a business problem could be solved with the application of blockchain technology
  • Reflect on how blockchain technology could lead to transformational business models and disruption in our conventional socio-economic systems
  • How blockchain is being applied in decentralised finance (DeFi)
  • How Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) may revolutionise cash
  • How Bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies are being used and applied today

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone interested in blockchain technology and its application to business problems. Those considering a career in the field or executives exploring business use of blockchain will benefit from this comprehensive introduction.

Who will you learn with?

Nikhil Vadgama is the Deputy Director of the UCL Centre for Blockchain Technologies. He is the Programme Director of the MSc Financial Technology and a Lecturer at the UCL Dept. of Computer Science.

Dr Paolo Tasca is a world leading authority on blockchain and cryptocurrency. Global Advisor, Serial Entrepreneur, Writer, Public Speaker and Executive Director at UCL CBT.

Who developed the course?

UCL (University College London)

UCL was founded in 1826. It was the first English university established after Oxford and Cambridge, and the first to open up university education to those previously excluded from it.

UCL Centre for Blockchain Technologies

The University College London Centre for Blockchain Technologies was founded in 2016 to research the effects of Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLT) and blockchain in our socio-economic systems. The centre is the nucleus for DLT and blockchain research and engagement across eight different departments at UCL and for its Research and Industry Associate network. This network consists of over 180 researchers and practitioners from UCL, other academic institutions and companies utilising DLT.

Learning on FutureLearn

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  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps, but you can complete them as quickly or slowly as you like
  • 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

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  • 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
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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
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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