Introduction to Decentralized Finance (DeFi)

Starting date: October 11, 2021

  • Learn how blockchain-based decentralization is disrupting financial services
  • First open online course on DeFi in the world
  • Continuously updated: Learn About the Latest Developments in DeFi and NFTs
  • Join Our Global Community of 45,000+ Students in 110+ Countries

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Be Part of an Emerging Revolution in Economics & Finance

Decentralised 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.


Top Reasons to Register

The World’s First MOOC on Decentralised 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 decentralised exchanges, stablecoins, and algorithmic loans differ from their traditional counterparts. By becoming familiar with innovations such as automated market makers (AMMs), decentralised 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!

A UNIC Story – Tey El-Rjula

Watch a video of the truly inspiring story of one of our first MOOC students and his journey from refugee to blockchain entrepreneur.

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) and Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs).

The course runs over six sessions, covering three themes:

  1. DeFi fundamentals (Sessions 1-2): 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 3-5): A deep-dive on the components of the DeFi application stack, including decentralized exchanges, automated market making, lending and borrowing, liquidity mining, yield farming, decentralised insurance, synthetic assets, oracles, stablecoins, etc.
  3. DeFi governance (Session 6): A discussion on algorithmic governance, its applications to DeFi and the future of decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs).

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, automated market making, lending/borrowing, synthetic assets and derivatives on DeFi, 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.

Course Outline

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 in the course’s learning platform, where discussion forums also allow students to interact with each other and the course instructors. Interactive multiple-choice quizzes allow the students to test their grasp of the material.

A weekly live Zoom session allows students to attend live lectures, ask questions, and hear from invited guests who share their insights and DeFi experience.

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

Week Title Instructors
1 DeFi Fundamentals Professor George Giaglis
2 DeFi infrastructure: Ethereum and other L1 protocols Dr. Klitos Christodoulou
3 DeFi Applications I: Stablecoins, Lending and Borrowing Professor George Giaglis
4 DeFi Applications II: Decentralised Exchanges, Synthetic Assets, Oracles, Insurance Professor George Giaglis
5 Algorithmic Governane and DeFi Tokenomics Professor George Giaglis
6 DeFi and Beyond Antonis Polemitis

Course Instructors

Antonis Polemitis
Antonis Polemitis
CEO, University of Nicosia

Mr. Polemitis is the CEO of the University of Nicosia and also serves as a Director on the coordinating Board of the University. He is an adjunct faculty member and leads the industry advisory committee of the University on digital currency. He has been involved with cryptocurrencies since 2013 and he is also co-teaching UNIC’s free MOOC “Introduction to Digital Currencies”.

Mr. Polemitis is also the managing partner of Ledra Capital and has led investment and operational responsibility at the firm. He is responsible for investment and portfolio management of all Ledra investments in the areas of higher education, technology, and financial services.

He was previously a partner in the private equity practice of Mercer Management Consulting (now Oliver Wyman), where he consulted to private equity firms and merchant banks, and at ACG, a multi-billion dollar private investment fund, where he led the business process outsourcing and higher education practice. Over the course of his career, he has been a principal or advisor for transactions in the United States, Europe, Latin America, and India, ranging from multi-billion dollar industrial buyouts to early stage venture capital.

Mr. Polemitis holds an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School where he graduated with highest distinction as a Baker Scholar, and a B.S. from Indiana University in Accounting, Computer Information Systems, and International Studies where he graduated with highest distinction as a Wells and Chancellor’s Scholar.

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.


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