Free MOOC

Introduction to Decentralized Finance (DeFi)

Next Start Date: 9 January, 2023 (Spring 2023)

  • Learn how blockchain-based decentralization is disrupting financial services
  • First open online course on DeFi in the world
  • 1st University globally to issue academic certificates as NFTs (Non Fungible Tokens)
  • Continuously updated: Learn About the Latest Developments in DeFi and NFTs
  • Join Our Global Community of 80,000+ Students Enrolled from 120+ Countries

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Be Part of an Emerging Revolution in Economics & Finance

Decentralized Finance (DeFi) has emerged as a blockchain-based form of finance that leverages innovations in cryptocurrencies and smart contracts to build fair, inclusive, and robust financial systems that do not rely on central financial intermediaries, such as banks, brokerages or exchanges. DeFi applications disrupt the traditional financial services industry by allowing people lend, borrow and trade financial assets without intermediaries.

DeFi is currently the fastest growing blockchain innovation, with millions of users and hundreds of protocols handling tens of billions of dollars in value.  Introduction to Decentralized Finance is your ultimate guide to the revolutionary world of DeFi. In this course, you will familiarise yourself with the fundamentals of DeFi, its underlying technologies, popular applications, and transformative potential.

DeFi is currently the fastest growing blockchain innovation, with millions of users and hundreds of protocols handling tens of billions of dollars in value.

Introduction to Decentralized Finance is your ultimate guide to the revolutionary world of DeFi. In this course, you will familiarise yourself with the fundamentals of DeFi, its underlying technologies, popular applications, and transformative potential.

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Top Reasons to Register

The World’s First MOOC on Decentralized Finance

Introduction to Decentralized Finance:

You will demystify the layer-1 protocols that enable DeFi, such as Ethereum, Solana and the Binance Smart Chain, and learn how applications such as decentralized exchanges, stablecoins, and algorithmic loans differ from their traditional counterparts. By becoming familiar with innovations such as automated market makers (AMMs), decentralized autonomous organisations (DAOs), flash loans, liquidity mining, and yield farming, you will gain comprehensive insight into how DeFi paves the way for innovations in governance, credit, derivatives, and interest-bearing instruments.

The course is continuously updated and free for everyone. The course requires no specialized knowledge in either computing, economics or finance. However, you are supposed to already have an introductory understanding of cryptocurrencies (like Bitcoin), Ethereum-based smart contracts and fundamental blockchain concepts. If you are missing these, you may want to consider our other free course (Introduction to Digital Currencies), before embarking on your DeFi journey!

UNIC’s DeFi course is a wonderful introduction to the fast-paced Decentralized Finance space. It doesn’t matter if you want to build or just learn more – the staff and well-crafted curriculum have you covered! Expect a quick and exciting journey through what may well be the future of finance, with easy to understand material, even if you aren’t particularly technical. By the end, you should have a solid understanding of what’s going on.

Mario Panagiotopoulos , Internal Audit Manager, Piraeus Bank

Course Overview

Course Objectives

Introduction to Decentralized Finance provides an introductory, yet thorough, coverage of the field of decentralized finance (DeFi) and its main components, including decentralized exchanges (DEXs), automated market making (AMM), liquidity mining, yield farming, stablecoins, blockchain derivatives, DeFi protocol governance and others. The course will:

  • Delineate the principles by which decentralized finance operates.
  • Conceptualise the innovation/novelty and risks of DeFi by drawing parallels to its traditional financial (TradFi) applications.
  • Survey the full range of existing DeFi applications and protocols.
  • Explain how DeFi may disrupt existing financial system architectures.
  • Discuss related emerging developments related to DeFi, such as Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs).

The course runs over twelve weekly sessions, covering three themes:

  1. DeFi fundamentals (Sessions 1-3): An overview of what DeFi is and how it maps against traditional finance. In the first part of the course we also cover background material necessary to understand DeFi in depth, including an introduction to Ethereum (and other Layer 1 blockchains on which DeFi applications run), smart contracts, fungible and non-fungible tokens, and so on.
  2. The DeFi application stack (Sessions 4-10): A deep dive on the components of the DeFi application stack, including decentralized exchanges, lending and borrowing, liquidity mining, decentralized insurance, blockchain derivatives, oracles, stablecoins, algorithmic governance, and more.
  3. Beyond DeFi (Sessions 11-12): An exploration of the uncharted territory of novel applications that go beyond DeFi, and assessment of their potential impact for the future of finance.

Learning Outcomes

After completion of the course, students are expected to be able to:

  • Define DeFi and explain how it will compete with, complement, or disrupt traditional finance.
  • Summarize the basic application stack of DeFi and give examples of how decentralized exchanges, lending/borrowing, blockchain derivatives, and other components of the DeFi application stack work.
  • Explain the main risks associated with DeFi, including smart contract risks, impermanent losses, regulatory implications, and others and propose actions to mitigate them.
  • Transact with main types of DeFi protocols and applications in Ethereum, Binance Smart Chain and other blockchains.
  • Assess and explain advanced or complementary applications of DeFi, such as NFTs and CBDCs.

Course Outline

The course is structured into twelve weekly live Q&A sessions and a final exam.

The course is delivered wholly online, with weekly live interactive sessions with the The course is delivered wholly online, with weekly live interactive sessions with the instructors and leading figures from the DeFi industry.

Weekly material (presentations, case studies, discussion papers) is posted on Moodle, where discussion forums allow students to interact with each other and the course instructors.

A weekly live Zoom session with the course instructors and guests allows students to post their questions to the instructors.

A final, optional, multiple-choice quiz allows students to test their understanding of the course and gain a NFT Certificate of Accomplishment issued by the University of Nicosia.

Course Outline

Instructor: Professor George Giaglis

The section showcases how DeFi has the potential to transform existing financial products into permissionless, trustless and transparent protocols that run without the need of a third party mediating financial transactions.

Instructor: Professor George Giaglis

This week’s lecture covers the different layers of a DeFi app. Common terminologies such as Layer 1, ERC-20, and NFTs were defined and explained. The session analyzes the DeFi technology stack, explaining layers related to infrastructure, protocol, application settlement, and aggregation.
We also introduce the concept of composability and how DeFi apps can be combined like “money legos”.

Instructor: Dr Klitos Christodoulou

This week focuses on Ethereum and the principal role it plays in the DeFi ecosystem. This lecture teaches what Ethereum is, how it is structured and how widely it is adopted. Subsequently, smart contracts, token standards and dΑpps are described in detail. Finally, related concepts such as tokens and gas fees are covered comprehensively.

Instructor: Dr Klitos Christodoulou

This session walks you through Proof-of-Work, Proof-of-Stake and other consensus mechanisms. It also describes some notable L1 blockchains and L2 protocols as well as bridges. The session also delves into the blockchain trilemma.

This week UNIC partners with elementalcrypto.com to deep dive into two blockchains: the first on what is cosmos crypto and the second on what is Fantom crypto.

Instructor: Lambis Dionysopoulos

This lecture describes in detail the needs that stablecoins fulfil and why they are so popular.Students learn about the different types of stablecoin implementations, their features, benefits, and drawbacks.

The presentation also explores the concept of Central Bank Digital Currencies and how decentralized and private stablecoins informed their design and functionality. Although CBDCs are not, strictly speaking, part of the DeFi ecosystem, their (future) interplay with blockchain-based digital currencies, stablecoins and DeFi applications is of paramount importance for the outlook of the financial services industry of the future.

Finally, there is a small deed dive into Terra Luna. This week also includes a bonus session on why did Terra Luna crash.

Instructor: Professor George Giaglis

This week takes a close look at decentralized lending and borrowing protocols.  It also introduces the concept of flash loans and other innovations that are unique to the world of crypto. It also discusses the lending and borrowing protocol landscape in Ethereum and beyond.

This week there are two optional bonus sessions 1) Yearn Finance explained simply 2) Compound crypto explained

Instructor: Professor George Giaglis

This presentation does a deep dive into decentralized exchanges. It describes how Automated market makers work in detail as well as the concepts of liquidity mining and yield farming. Representative examples of DEXs and AMM applications and protocols are presented and their potential risks are also explored.

This week also dedicates a session on Uniswap: what is uniswap exchange

Instructor: Professor George Giaglis

This week provides an overview of the operation and utility of financial derivatives in the traditional financial markets, before introducing the concept of blockchain derivatives. The session introduces a concept known as oracles and demonstrates how synthetic assets can replicate real-world assets on-chain. We conclude with a discussion of how some novel risks and challenges in the DeFi space can be mitigated through decentralized insurance.

Instructor: Professor George Giaglis

This section introduces the concepts of blockchain governance and decentralized autonomous organizations. The lecture focuses on the most popular governance schemes employed by major DeFi protocols.

Students learn about how decentralized governance has the potential to disrupt the way organizations operate, by eliminating communication barriers, lowering the overhead costs of management, and enabling new forms of direct participation and coordination, coupled with transparency and accountability.

Instructor: Dr Christos Makridis

This session provides an overview of how different DeFi projects approach the concept of token economics (tokenomics), including token issuance and distribution, staking, protocol governance etc. It also discusses how the space might evolve beyond token governance.

The material also examines how tokenization upends existing markets such as real estate or creates wholly new ones (for example, markets for future income streams).

It also focuses on how prediction markets bring the power of decentralization and the wisdom of the crowds together. This week also has a bonus session that explained the Olympus DAO protocol explained simply

Instructor: Professor George Giaglis

This week offers an overview of emerging applications beyond DeFi. It examines how NFTs disrupt the arts & collectibles market by creating unique on-chain representations of (on-chain or off-chain) objects.

It revisits the history of NFTs from their first applications in 2017-18 to their current status and explains how various ecosystems and marketplaces work, as well as what they promise for the future.

This session also introduces the concept of the Metaverse and explains how blockchains may serve as its open, and interoperable infrastructure.

Finally, it discusses a collection of innovations often referred to as DeFi 2.0 and provide thoughts on how the ecosystem might evolve in the future. A bonus session by elementalcrypto.com describes ape coin

Instructor: Lambis Dionysopoulos

This week is more hands-on and offers some tutorials on how to interact with major DeFi applications.

Final Quiz

Course Instructors

Prof. George Giaglis
Prof. George Giaglis
Executive Director, Institute for The Future, University of Nicosia

Professor George M. Giaglis is a leading expert on blockchain technology and applications and advisor to many blockchain projects and technology start-ups. George has been working on digital currencies and blockchain since 2012, with his main focus being on new forms of industrial organization (such as distributed autonomous organizations) and new forms of corporate financing (central bank digital currencies, applications of asset tokenization and crypto-economics).

He has been one of the first academics to research and teach on blockchain, having: designed the curriculum of the world’s first full academic degree on blockchain (MSc in Digital Currency at the University of Nicosia); led the development of blockchain credentialing technology that has resulted in the first ever publishing of academic certificates on the blockchain; taught on the disruptive innovation potential of blockchain, both at academic programs and in executive seminars worldwide; organized a number of prominent blockchain conferences and events, including Decentralized. Throughout his career, he has published more than 10 books and 150 articles in leading scientific journals and conferences, while he is frequently interviewed by media and invited as keynote speaker or trainer in events across the globe.

Dr. Klitos Christodoulou
Dr. Klitos Christodoulou
Assistant Professor, School of Business, Department of Digital Innovation

Dr. Klitos Christodoulou is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Digital Innovation at the University of Nicosia (UNIC). He is also the Research Manager at the Institute For the Future (IFF) and the Scientific Lab leader of the Distributed Ledgers Research Center (DLRC) at IFF (https://www.unic.ac.cy/iff/dlrc/). A Center that aims towards fostering academic research on blockchains. He holds a B.Sc. in Computer Science and an M.Sc. in Advanced Computer Science – with specialisation in Advanced Applications, both from the University of Manchester, UK.

In 2014, Klitos obtained his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the School of Computer Science at the University of Manchester, UK. He has been an adjunct staff member of the Information Management Group (IMG) in the School of Computer Science, at the University of Manchester where he engaged in various research and teaching activities. His research interests span both Data Management challenges; with a focus on Machine Learning techniques, and Distributed Ledger Technologies; with an emphasis on Blockchain ledgers. Klitos teaches courses on Blockchain Applications and Blockchain Programming under UNIC’s MSc in Digital Currency programme. He is also a member of the ISO/TC 307 Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technologies group. Klitos is also an active member for developing the Cyprus National Strategy for Blockchain. Currently, representing Cyprus as an invited expert at the European Blockchain Partnership. In addition, Klitos is the Principal Investigator of the Ripple grant at UNIC and participates as a research member to a number of EU funded projects e.g., EUNOMIA (Horizon 2020) and DLT4ALL (Erasmus+) projects.

Dr. Christos Makridis
Dr. Christos Makridis

Dr. Christos Makridis is an adjunct faculty member at the University of Nicosia and holds academic appointments at Stanford University, Columbia Business School, Arizona State University, Baylor University, and the Manhattan Institute. He is a co-founder and actively leads in two technology startups, advises on web3 and artificial intelligence. Christos’ primary academic research focuses on labor economics, the digital economy, and personal finance and well-being, publishing over 50 peer-reviewed research papers and over 100 stories in the media. Christos earned a Bachelor’s in Economics and Minor in Mathematics at Arizona State University, as well as a dual Master’s and PhD in Economics and Management Science & Engineering at Stanford University.

Lambis Dionysopoulos
Lambis Dionysopoulos
Researcher and Teaching Assistant,
Institute For the Future
University of Nicosia

Lambis is a researcher and teaching assistant at the University of Nicosia’s Insitute for the Future, and research lead at the EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum. He specializes in decentralized finance and central bank digital currencies. Lambis holds a BSc in Business Administration and an MSc in Blockchain and Digital Currency.

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