Business and Society

Module titleBusiness and Society
Module codeBEM1018
Academic year2019/0
Module staff

Morgen Witzel (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

This module is designed to help you develop an understanding of the relationship between business and society, ethics, sustainability and corporate responsibility. Throughout the module you will engage with some of the global challenges business and society are facing, and appreciate how business can make a positive contribution to society and help tackle those challenges by integrating purposeful leadership, ethics, innovative business models and corporate social responsibility (CSR) in strategic planning. In seminars structured around action learning sets, you will engage in critical inquiry, using questions as a tool to explore the concepts and issues that emerge from within the module. As a result, you will acquire and be able to evidence critical thinking and analysis skills while bringing your own experiences as a citizen in to your discussion and inquiry.

Additional Information

Internationalisation: Students will identify and appreciate the global challenges that business and society face while taking a  global perspective in their critical review process.

Sustainability: By understanding the need to integrate sustainability in the strategic planning process students will appreciate how innovative business models can contribute to a more sustainable world while enhancing the firm’s profitability

External Engagement: Students are required to actively engage with the external world, this includes reviewing quality journalism, academic blog posts and academic twitter feeds and engaging with guest speakers when appropriate

Research in Teaching: The teaching will be informed by lecturers’ own research and research featured in academicjournals related to the relevant discipline areas. As citizens, students will engage in action research, researching the wider society around them.

Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility: This module has been designed around the theme of ‘responsibility', implicit in this is an understanding of ethical decision making.

Module aims - intentions of the module

As governments evidence a leadership deficit in their ability to tackle the global challenges of the 21st century, society is increasingly expecting business to help build cohesive and prosperous societies and promote a more sustainable form of capitalism. By developing strategies aimed at achieving longer term, rather than short term objectives and incorporating sustainability and corporate social responsibility in their strategic planning business is in a position to make a positive contribution to society.

This module introduces you to the global economic, societal, technological and environmental challenges of the 21st century, and identifies how, through greater alignment of business interest with that of society, purposeful leadership, business ethics, business model innovation and a circular approach to the economy business can be a “force for good”. 

By taking the module you will acquire knowledge and skills that are essential as you progress through your studies. You will develop an understanding of the connections (and tensions) between individual, organisational, and societal actions and outcomes, as well as critical thinking and analysis, debating and essay writing skills through action learning and assessment methods that promote the development of a global, entrepreneurial and analytical mind-set.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Outline the complexities that characterize the relationship between business and society, appreciating the existence of key stakeholders and their expectations
  • 2. Assess the role of ethics, purposeful leadership and business model innovation in enabling organisations to make a positive contribution to society

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 3. Assess the ways through which corporate social responsibility and ethics can be integrated in strategic planning while managing conflicting interests and negative externalities
  • 4. Evaluate the existence of purposeful leadership and purpose-driven business models and their ability to “do good” while enhancing firm performance

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 5. Through critical review of published material, analyse, communicate and present ideas, principles and evidence (in both oral and written form) that support a reasoned and consistent argument
  • 6. Select and synthesize material from a range of sources (both academic and practitioner based) to support key ideas and recommendations
  • 7. Research, prepare and present own analysis on a contemporary issue
  • 8. Evidence critical thinking and analysis skills while engaging with assigned readings and contributing to enquiry-led discussions in tutorials

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

There are ten, 2 hour-long weekly lectures structured around the following themes:

  • The role of business in tackling global economic, societal, technological and environmental challenges
  • Why do incredibly intelligent people do incredibly stupid things? Business and ethics
  • A multi stakeholders approach to business
  • Managing interests and negative externalities
  • Integrating Corporate Social Responsibility in organisational and strategic planning
  • Great companies have great purpose: purposeful leadership for a “conscious capitalism”
  • Aiming for growth through purpose-driven business models
  • Leading sustainable organisations: the Circular Economy
  • Business and Technology

To complement the lectures, eight tutorials of 1 hour each take place weekly in Weeks 2 – 10 and are structured around action-learning sets. You will explore the critical thinking process and develop your enquiry skills through a series of exercises, as well as formative and summative assignments. The focus of the tutorials is on developing the skills needed to critically engage in understanding the many factors that shape the relationship between business and society.

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Contact hours20Lectures
Contact hours: Action-learning8Tutorials
Guided Independent Study122Reading, research and discussion


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Formative review undertaken in pairs250 words5-8Grade

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Two critical reviews302 x 250 words (a leeway of ONLY +/- 5 words)5,6,7,8Written feedback by tutor
Critical essay: position paper discussing the following statement: "Business is a Force for Good"701,000 words (a leeway of +/- 10%) AllWritten feedback


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Critical ReviewResubmission of coursework5,6,7,8July
Individual Position PaperResubmission of courseworkAllJuly

Re-assessment notes

Weighting will be equivalent to original assignments


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading: The core text for this module can be found in the university electronic resources; a link will be provided on ELE.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Web based and electronic resources: all located on module ELE page

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Corporate Social Responsibility, Business and Society, Capitalism, Consumerism, Business ethics, Responsible business, Governance and ethics

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites

None – but this module complements BEM1016/1016A

NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date