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Department of Computer Science and Technology



Course pages 2023–24

Distributed Ledger Technologies: Foundations and Applications

Principal lecturer: Prof Srinivasan Keshav
Taken by: MPhil ACS, Part III
Code: R47
Term: Lent
Class limit: max. 15 students
Moodle, timetable


This reading group course examines foundations and current research into distributed ledger (blockchain) technologies and their applications. Students will read, review, and present seminal research papers in this area. Once completed, students should be able to integrate blockchain technologies into their own research and gain familiarity with a range of research skills.


  1. Introduction
  2. Consensus protocols
  3. Bitcoin and its variants
  4. Ethereum, smart contracts, and other permissionless DLTs
  5. Hybrid and permissioned DLTs
  6. Applications

Learning objectives

There are two broad objectives: to acquire familiarity with a body of work in the area of distributed ledgers and to learn some specific research skills:

  1. How to read a paper
  2. How to review a paper
  3. How to analyze a paper’s strengths and weaknesses
  4. Written and oral presentation skills


You are expected to read all assigned papers and submit paper reviews each week. Each review must either follow the provided review form [PDF] [Latex source]. Each “review” is worth 5% of your total mark, and is marked out of 100 with 60 a passing grade. Marks will be awarded and penalties for late submission applied according to ACS Assessment Guidelines

  • One paper review for the first week, then two paper reviews each week for 6 weeks (13 reviews, 5% each) 65% (approx 600 words per review)
  • Summative essay 25% (max 3000 words)
  • Presentation 5%
  • 100% attendance in class 5% (2 marks deducted per missed class)

Recommended Reading

Narayanan, A. , Bonneau, J., Felten, E., Miller, A. and Goldfeder, S. (2016). Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies: A Comprehensive Introduction. Princeton University Press.
(2016 Draft available here: