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Blockchain is one of the most important technologies to impact law and business in recent years, and presents many challenges and opportunities for lawyers. Blockchain is revolutionising finance, eliminating the need for "trusted” human intermediaries and using computer code to facilitate automated transactions.
This subject is designed to introduce students to the emerging social, economic and legal issues associated with blockchain and cryptocurrencies. It will initially consider the extent to which we should allow regulation and government intervention to influence the development and adoption of blockchain technologies, including cryptocurrencies, balancing the maintenance of social and legal norms against the need to let a nascent technology innovate and disrupt. The subject will then analyse how to maintain rule of law through appropriate legal and regulatory levers. The subject is grounded in the law, but also seeks to be broad and interdisciplinary.
Principal topics will include:
• Introduction to cryptocurrencies and blockchains
• Introduction to smart contracts and governance design
• Regulation of finance and securities markets in the age of blockchain
• Initial coin offerings and their regulatory framework
• Digital identity and privacy
• Intersection of blockchain technologies with existing legal frameworks
• Legal services use-cases for blockchain technologies
Intended learning outcomes
A student who has successfully completed this subject will:
- Have an advanced and integrated understanding of the legal questions that surround blockchain technologies and the complex web of history, culture, technology, law and regulation into which blockchain has been placed;
- Have an advanced understanding of the legal implications of the use of blockchain technologies in various contexts and how to develop blockchain-based legal solutions;
- Have the cognitive and technical skills to become active participants in blockchain technologies by introducing the salient features of decentralised, distributive computing platforms;
- Have the communication skills to clearly articulate and convey complex information regarding blockchain technologies.
On completion of the subject students should have developed the following skills:
- Mastery of the principal areas of law as they relate to blockchain technology;
- expert, specialised cognitive and technical skills for critical and independent thought and reflection in the context of blockchain technology and its use cases (including crypto currencies);
- mastery of technical research skills relevant to blockchain regulation;
- expert, specialised cognitive, creative and technical skills to solve problems, including through the critical evaluation of research relevant to the area of blockchain technologies; and
- the ability to expertly communicate specialised and complex information, ideas, concepts and theories relevant to blockchain technologies.
Last updated: 31 January 2024