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 November 1, 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 Master’s Degrees
Within this context it is unsurprising that, from October 2019, the University of Malta (UM) will offer master’s degrees in blockchain. The university’s Centre for DLT is launching a multi-disciplinary Master of Science in Blockchain & DLT degree program, 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:
- MS Blockchain & DLT (Business & Finance)
- MS Blockchain & DLT (Law & Regulation)
- MS Blockchain & DLT (Information & Communication Technology)
Master’s Degree Courses
Common to each of these variants are a number of compulsory introductory courses:
- DLT5000 Introduction to Blockchain, DLTs & Cryptocurrencies
- DLT5001 Applied Project
- DLT5002 Research Methods
- DLT5130 DLT Business: An Introduction & Keynotes
- EBI5002 Creativity & Innovation – From Ideas to Products & Services
These multi-disciplinary courses are intended to provide students with a basic understanding of blockchain and DLT and their applications, including smart contracts and cryptocurrencies, as well as policy and regulatory challenges.
Advanced specialization courses 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 Internet of Things. 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 three semesters) or part-time. The program’s tuition fees are €10,000 (≈$11,800) for both EU and non-EU students. A scholarship scheme is run in partnership with the Malta Information Technology Agency.