Business and Society

Module description

This module is designed to help students develop an understanding of the relationships between business and society, exploring the ethical dimensions of global trade. Throughout the module you will engage with critical inquiry, using questions as a tool to explore the concepts and issues that emerge from within the module. We use a mixture of lectures, films and action learning to engage you with the critical thinking process. Students are actively encouraged to bring your own experiences as a citizen in to their discussion and inquiry.

Additional Information

Internationalisation: Students are expected to take a global perspective in their critical review process, exploring the various cultural dimensions of business activity. The examples and case studies used in teaching take an international (multi-cultural) perspective.

Sustainability: The natural environment is the context for inquiry - through case studies and personal account, students will explore sustainability, ethics and responsible consumption.  

External Engagement: Students are required to actively engage with the external world, this includes but is not limited to reviewing quality journalism, academic blog posts and academic twitter feeds.

Research in Teaching: The teaching will be informed by lecturers own research and research featured in the academic journals related to the relevant discipline areas. As citizens, students will engage in action research, researching the 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.

Full module specification

Module title:Business and Society
Module code:BEM1018
Module level:1
Academic year:2016/7
Module lecturers:
  • Ms Jackie Bagnall - Convenor
Module credit:15
ECTS value:





None – but this module complements BEM1016/1016A

Duration of module: Duration (weeks) - term 2:


Module aims

The module aims to provide students with an understanding of the connections (and tensions) between individual, organisational, and societal actions and outcomes, while also retaining a positive/entrepreneurial outlook. This module will explore these issues and frame student assessment through action learning, critical analysis, visual representation and essay writing. 

It is worth keeping in mind that much of the material covered in this module is by its nature somewhat controversial and political. Consider, for example, the following questions:

  • What role do consumers play in unethical production?
  • Do businesses have any social responsibilities?’
  • What role should the state play in regulating businesses?’
  • What labour standards should companies adhere to when manufacturing in developing countries?

These are questions to which there is no ‘one right answer’. We are less interested in your ability to learn facts on a subject and more interested in your ability to put aside preconceived ideas and think critically about a subject from a range of positions.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. critically assess differing viewpoints by drawing on appropriate empirical and theoretical academic research
  • 2. depict the complexities that characterise the relationships between business and society

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. describe and assess the key trends that impact on the contemporary relationship between business and society.
  • 4. explore a range of topical social, environmental and ethical issues and analyse the role of business within these topics.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 5. through critical review - 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. display critical thinking skills in written, pictorial and oral presentations, and construct an argument based on engagement with the academic literature.
  • 8. construct a nuanced argument on an issue based on rigorous academic analysis

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 hours10Lectures
Inquiry based activity10Engage in social research
Guided independent study124Reading, research and discussion

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
In pairs - students prepare a photographic montage to be peer reviewed in tutorial 4. The montage is a pictorial representation of ‘Self’ as a consumer in society. Submit A4 PDF of photo montage with reflections on peer feedback.2, 4, 6, 7Peer feedback

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
At three distinct time points across the module – write three critical reviews: a book chapter, a newspaper article and a documentary film.30Each review is 250 words. (750 words total) Review guidelines and submission dates will be listed on ELE.1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8Tutor written feedback
Final independent essay that analyses the role of business and society. Building on the themes from across the module. 702,500 words Essay questions and submission date will be listed on ELE1-8Tutor written feedback

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Critical Reviews Resubmission of Coursework1,2,4,5,6,7,8July
Independent essayResubmission of Coursework1-8July

Re-assessment notes

Weighting will be equivalent to original assignments

Syllabus plan

There are ten one hour lectures, themes include but are not limited to:

  • Consumer as an identity
  • Advertising and social influence
  • The social construction of choice
  • The business case for Human Rights
  • The social consequences of the garment industry
  • The emergence of new forms of governance
  • The crisis of Capitalism
  • Global political economy
  • Managing the global economy

Six tutorials will take place in weeks 2 – 7 and are structured around action-learning sets. Students will explore the critical thinking process and develop their inquiry skills through a series of exercises and assignments.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading: The core text for this module can be found in the university electronic resources:


Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

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

Origin date


Last revision date