BLOC-529DL:Decentralized Finance (DeFi)

Next Start Date: 3 April, 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
  • Join Our Global Community of 95,000+ 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.

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 (Digital Currency), 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 decentralised 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 six weeks, each covering two themes:

  1. DeFi fundamentals (weeks 1-2): The first theme covers the fundamentals of DeFi and provides a background necessary to understand it in greater depth. This includes introducing Ethereum (and other Layer 1 blockchains) as well as smart contracts, fungible and non-fungible tokens,

  2. DeFi applications (weeks 3-6): The second theme deep dives into the components of the DeFi application stack such as decentralized exchanges, lending and borrowing, liquidity mining, decentralised insurance, blockchain derivatives, oracles, stablecoins, algorithmic governance, and more.

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

Thematic Session 1: Decentralized finance (DeFi) Fundamentals

  • From centralized to decentralized finance

  • Introduction to Decentralized Finance

    We set the scene by introducing students to fundamental concepts from traditional finance and explaining how decentralized blockchain technology and self-executing smart contracts offer a radical departure from existing systems. This section showcases how DeFi has the potential to transform existing financial products into permissionless, trustless and transparent protocols that can run without the need of third parties mediating financial transactions. Additionally, students will be introduced to the size and growth of the DeFi landscape.

Thematic Session 2: The DeFi Ecosystem & Application stack

  • The DeFi landscape and use cases

  • DeFi ecosystem pillars

  • DeFi application stack

  • Composability and “Money Legos”

    We will cover the different components of the decentralized finance ecosystem, including its pillars and parts. We will provide a broad overview of the major DeFi applications and projects, along with their features and innovative concepts. Additionally, we will examine the DeFi technology stack, which includes infrastructure layers, protocols, application settlement layers and aggregation layers. We will explain the significance of each layer and how they work together to form a modular architecture often referred to as ‘money legos’.

Thematic Session 3: DeFi infrastructure, Part I: Ethereum

  • Introduction to Ethereum as the main Layer 1 protocol for DeFi applications

  • Smart Contracts and token standards

    We introduce the core blockchain technology that underlies DeFi applications, namely Ethereum. We also examine smart contracts and illustrate how they form the basis of DeFi applications through their self- executing and self-enforcing code.

Thematic Session 4: DeFi infrastructure, Part 2: Other L1/L2 Protocols

  • Other notable Layer 1 protocols for DeFi (Binance Smart Chain, Avalanche, etc)

  • The blockchain trilemma

  • Layer 2 solutions and applications

    We introduce other blockchains on which DeFi applications are being built beyond Ethereum and explain the emerging space of alt-L1 DeFi applications. Additionally, we present the blockchain trilemma along with successful and innovative solutions. This section will also cover a variety of layer 2 solutions in the DeFi and blockchain ecosystem.

Thematic Session 5: DeFi Applications I: Stablecoins and CBDCs

  • Stablecoins

  • Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs)

    We introduce stablecoins as a key component of the DeFi ecosystem. Students will gain an understanding of different types of stablecoin implementations, their advantages and drawbacks, and features. We will also delve into Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) and how decentralised and private stablecoins have impacted their design and functionality. Even though CBDCs are not part of the DeFi ecosystem per se, it is vital to consider how they could potentially interact with blockchain-based digital currencies, stablecoins, and DeFi applications when considering the future of the financial services industry.

Thematic Session 6: DeFi Applications II: Decentralized Lending and Borrowing

  • Lending and Borrowing

We provide an overview of the distinctive features of blockchain lending and borrowing. We will also look into developments that are exclusive to blockchain-enabled protocols, such as flash loans. Furthermore, we will examine the lending and borrowing protocol landscape in Ethereum and beyond.

Thematic Session 7: DeFi Applications III: Exchanges

  • Decentralized exchanges (DEXes)

  • Automated market making (AMM)

  • DeFi protocol risks

  • Liquidity mining

  • Yield farming

  • Decentralised insurance

  • Bringing the real world to the blockchain through oracles

    This section provides an overview of decentralized exchanges (DEXs) and money markets (AMM) in DeFi. Students will be introduced to the differences between these and their traditional counterparts, as well as representative examples of DEXs and AMM applications and protocols. The potential risks associated with them will also be explored. We explain how decentralization has made new forms of yield-earning activities possible, such as liquidity mining; where users contribute liquidity to a decentralized protocol, and yield farming; a strategy for maximizing returns on investment. Examples of protocols that enable these applications will be presented and analyzed. We then cover financial derivatives in the traditional financial markets before introducing synthetic assets on DeFi. We demonstrate how oracles can replicate real-world assets on chain using synthetic assets, before discussing how some novel risks and challenges in the DeFi space can be mitigated through decentralised insurance.

Thematic Session 8: DeFi Applications IV: Blockchain Derivatives, Oracles, Insurance

  • Blockchain Derivatives

  • Bringing the real world to the blockchain through oracles

  • Decentralised insurance

We offer an overview of the use and purpose of financial derivatives in conventional finance markets, before introducing blockchain derivatives. We illustrate how synthetic assets can be utilized to replicate real-world assets on chain through a concept known as oracles. Lastly, we discuss how some of the novel risks and issues associated with DeFi can be addressed with decentralized insurance.

  • Programmatic management of DeFi applications

  • Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs)

    We introduce the fundamentals of blockchain governance and decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) as they relate to DeFi and decentralization in general. We analyze the governance structures employed by major DeFi protocols. Students will gain an understanding of how decentralized governance has the potential to revolutionize how organizations operate, removing communication barriers, decreasing management overhead costs, enabling new forms of direct participation and coordination while also providing transparency and accountability.

Thematic Session 10: DeFi Tokenomics & Real-World Asset Tokenization

  • Tokenomics in DeFi protocols

  • Tokenization in real assets

    We offer an overview of how different DeFi projects handle token economics (tokenomics), including token issuance and distribution, staking, protocol governance, etc. We will also explore the potential for this space to develop beyond token governance. Additionally, we will look at how tokenization is disrupting existing markets (e.g., real estate) or creating entirely new ones (e.g., markets for future income streams), as well as how prediction markets leverage decentralization and the collective wisdom of many people.

Thematic Session 11: Beyond DeFi, Non-fungible Tokens (NFTs) & Metaverse

  • Non-fungible tokens (NFTs)

We provide an overview of emerging applications beyond DeFi. We start by exploring how Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) are disrupting the arts and collectibles market by creating unique, on-chain representations of objects. We will review the history of NFTs – from their first implementations in 2017-18 to their current status – and explain how various ecosystems and marketplaces function, as well as what they offer for the future. Building on NFTs, we introduce the concept of a Metaverse and explain how blockchains may serve as its open and interoperable infrastructure.

Thematic Session 12: End of Course Details

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 ( 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 PhD student in Finance and a research officer for the Institute for the Future at the University of Nicosia. He is also the research lead for the EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum. Lambis’ research focuses on blockchain technologies, digital finance, and central bank digital currencies. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the Athens University of Economics and Business and a Master’s degree in Blockchain and Digital Currency from the University of Nicosia.


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