Malta is frequently referred to as ‘the Blockchain Island‘ and with good reason. In July 2018, the Maltese Parliament approved three bills establishing a regulatory framework for blockchain, cryptocurrency, and distributed ledger technology (DLT), which came into effect on 1 November 2018. In the words of Silvio Schembri, Junior Minister for Financial Services, Digital Economy and Innovation, this made Malta “the first world jurisdiction to provide legal certainty to this space.”
Establishing strong regulation forms part of the Government’s National Blockchain Strategy, and its quest for the country to become an international blockchain and cryptocurrency hub. A number of cryptocurrency exchanges, such as Binance, have set up home in Malta, and the country will host its second annual AI & Blockchain Summit in May 2019, at which Prime Minister Joseph Muscat will speak.
Blockchain Graduate Degrees
Within this context it is unsurprising that, from October 2019, the University of Malta (UM) will offer graduate degrees in blockchain and DLT. The university’s Centre for Distributed Ledger Technologies is launching a multi-disciplinary Master of Science in Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technologies, aimed primarily at students with a first degree in ICT, Business, or Law (although this is not a pre-requisite for admission).
There are three variants of the master’s degree, giving students the choice to focus on a particular specialization:
- MSc Blockchain & DLT (Business & Finance)
- MSc Blockchain & DLT (Law and Regulation)
- MSc Blockchain & DLT (Information and Communication Technology)
Common to each of these variants are a number of compulsory introductory classes:
- DLT5000 Introduction to Blockchain, DLTs and Cryptocurrencies
- DLT5001 Applied Project
- DLT5002 Research Methods
- DLT5130 DLT Business: An Introduction and Keynotes
- EBI5002 Creativity and Innovation – From Ideas to Products and Services
These multi-disciplinary classes are intended to provide students with a basic understanding of blockchain and DLTs and their applications, including smart contracts and cryptocurrencies, as well as policy and regulatory challenges.
Advanced specialization classes are then required for each variant. Students on the Business & Finance variant will study: investment management; smart contracts; regulation; securities markets; financial derivatives; applied economics; and cybercrime. Students on the Law & Regulation variant will cover: IT and e-commerce law in the EU; smart contracts; and the legality of cryptocurrencies. Those pursuing the ICT variant will look at: DLT implementation; dApp programing; cryptography; and the IoT. All three variants require a dissertation to be written during the final semester.
The master’s degree can be pursued either full-time (with a duration of 3 semesters) or part-time. The program’s tuition fees are €10,000 for both EU and non-EU students. A scholarship scheme is run in partnership with the Malta Information Technology Agency.