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Blockchain and Distributed Ledgers

  • Teacher(s):   T.Schmelzer  
  • Course given in: English
  • ECTS Credits: 3 credits
  • Schedule: Autumn Semester 2019-2020, 2.0h. course (weekly average)
  •  sessions
  • Related programmes:
    Master of Science (MSc) in Actuarial Science

    Master of Science (MSc) in Finance : Financial Entrepreneurship and Data Science

    Master of Science (MSc) in Finance, Orientation Corporate Finance

    Master of Science (MSc) in Finance, Orientation Asset and Risk Management



This course provides an introduction to distributed ledger technology, blockchains and cryptocurrencies. It focuses on the applications of these technologies in finance and banking.


The course covers the basics of cryptography and its applications to cryptocurrencies; historical examples to centralized cryptocurrencies; foundations of modern decentralized cryptocurrencies; mechanics of Bitcoin platform including storage, mining, wallets, etc.; alternative platforms, including Ethereum; smart contracts; potential applications of decentralized ledgers in finance and their pros and cons. If time permits we discuss Hashgraphs and Libra.

This will be an interactive course. All students will be encouraged to formulate opinions and discuss the implications of aforementioned technology in real-world contexts. The lecture will be supported by a Jupyter server relying on Binder.

We touch subjects as diverse as economics, philosphy, crythography, computer science, the history of the 20th century and above all mathematics.


Narayanan, A., Bonneau, J., Felten, E., Miller, A. and Goldfeder, S., 2016, Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies, Princeton University Press.

Gauss, C.F., Disquisitiones Arithmeticae, 1801

Berentsen, A., Schär, F., 2017, Bitcoin, Blockchain und Kryptoassets, Universität Basel (text in German)

Antonopoulos, A., 2017, Mastering Bitcoin (2nd Edition) , O'Reilly

Lewis, A., 2018, The Basics of Bitcoins and Blockchains, Mango


Basic programming (ideally, Python)


First attempt

Written 2h00 hours
Not allowed
Not allowed

Students will be given the opportunity to shine in a final exam and in an optional group project. Group projects culminate in a presentation in front of the class. Students can suggest topics or choose from a growing list provided by the lecturer.

Your final mark will be a weighted sum (e.g. an inner product) of your results achieved in your group project (30%) and your exam (70%).


Written 2h00 hours
Not allowed
Not allowed

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