PP426      Half Unit
Public Policy for Blockchains and Digital Assets

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Frank Muci


This course is available on the Double Master of Public Administration (LSE-Columbia), Double Master of Public Administration (LSE-Sciences Po), Double Master of Public Administration (LSE-University of Toronto), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and Hertie), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and NUS), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and Tokyo), MPA in Data Science for Public Policy, Master of Public Administration and Master of Public Policy. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

The course is designed for graduate students at the School of Public Policy but is open to students outside the school, subject to availability and instructor permission. 


The course has no formal prerequisites, though previous coursework or experience in economics, finance, business, computer science, law or other related fields will be beneficial.

Course content

Public permissionless blockchains and “crypto” assets have attracted massive attention, investment and talent, peaking at US$ 3 trillion of apparent market value in late 2021. But what do distributed ledger technologies and the socioeconomic systems that are built on them amount to? What economic or social purpose, if any, do they serve? What are the costs, risks and opportunities associated with this technology, financial infrastructure and purported asset class? Most importantly, how should it be understood and addressed by policymakers?

This course is designed to (1) equip students with a technical, economic, social, legal and historical understanding of the “crypto” phenomenon and (2) develop student understanding of the theoretical frameworks, analytical tools and perspectives necessary to have informed views about how various aspects of this sector can and should be regulated. The course will draw on a variety of sources including academic research, case studies, whitepapers, news reporting, opinion pieces, and online media.

The course is new, experimental and interdisciplinary but emphasizes economic concepts and ideas. It will also have a comparative and international focus. The course will also cover permissioned DLTs and other emerging financial technologies, but the emphasis will be on the permissionless blockchains, the technological underpinning of “crypto.” Students may be interested in the course for a variety of reasons, including general education, as preparation for roles in regulatory bodies, government, finance, or advocacy organizations.


30 hours of lectures in the AT.

The course will have two 90 minute ‘Harvard style’ lecture/seminars per week. These are interactive and dynamic sessions where significant student participation is expected.  

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 other piece of coursework and 2 other pieces of coursework in the AT.

Indicative reading

The course will feature materials from a wide variety of sources, including journal articles, newsletters, blogs, and other online media. Below is a list of key reference materials for the course:   

  • Arvind Narayanan, Joseph Bonneau, Edward Felten, Andrew Miller, and Steven Goldfeder. 2016. Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies: A Comprehensive Introduction. Princeton University Press, USA.
  • Robert J. Shiller, 2015. "Irrational Exuberance," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 3, number 10421.
  • Levine, Mathew. “The Crypto Story: Where it came from, what it all means, and why it still matters.” Bloomberg Businessweek. October 31st 2022.
  • Nakamoto, Satoshi: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System (August 21, 2008)
  • Buterin, Vitalik: “Ethereum: A Next-Generation Smart Contract and Decentralized Application Platform.” (January 2014).


Essay (40%, 1500 words) in the AT.
Essay (60%, 2500 words) in the period between AT and WT.

Key facts

Department: School of Public Policy

Total students 2022/23: Unavailable

Average class size 2022/23: Unavailable

Controlled access 2022/23: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Specialist skills