Ethics and Organisations

Module description


In current times many ethical issues are being raised about the social responsibility of companies to its employees and other stakeholders, and about the ethics of our trading systems. This module provides an opportunity to explore the ethical decisions faced by people working in contemporary organisations and to develop knowledge and decision making skills to enable personal response to such dilemmas. The module is delivered by means of 11 lectures plus five action learning workshops. As a final year module, students have the chance to engage in a significant amount of critical reflection, and self-directed study, spending time researching and reading academic journal articles that support the ideas put forward in the lectures.

Additional Information:


The content of this module is applicable in various countries as it covers international business examples. Students are encouraged to consider the international and cultural differences companies must address in order to be ethically managed and the cultural differences that influence ethical decision making.

External Engagement

Previous guest speakers have included a representative from Oxfam and the Founder of Embercombe.


Students have the opportunity to develop a number of skills valued by employers, including their creativity, critical thinking and presentation skills. They also develop their ability to reflect and address various ethical dilemmas.


We address sustainability through an ethical perspective, challenging the way business is conducted in today's world and how we are personally responsible for making a difference.

Full module specification

Module title:Ethics and Organisations
Module code:BEM3009
Module level:3
Academic year:2017/8
Module lecturers:
  • Ms Majella O'Leary - Convenor
Module credit:15
ECTS value:






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


Module aims

The aim of this module is to enable students to critically engage with ethical issues, through a combination of academic study and critical reflection. The skills developed will be relevant to ethical decision-making, problem solving and deeper consideration of issues within both social and personal responsibility. Designed to engage the student in a wide range of debates and discussions, this module develops enquiry and critical reasoning skills, essential for the 21st century graduate.


ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. explore and define the ethical perspectives contained within decision-making across the contemporary organisation
  • 2. identify some of the most significant ethical issues facing managers, linking them to relevant academic theories
  • 3. examine the moral dilemmas contained within a given business scenario and present own analysis of the situation

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. propose solutions to an ethical dilemma and reflect upon the potential impact of those solutions
  • 5. justify a chosen course of action, demonstrating consideration of the complexities involved in organisational decision making
  • 6. determine the suitability of proven management models with regards to ethical practice and the effective governance of contemporary organizations

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 7. demonstrate the ability to debate ethical dilemmas
  • 8. critically evaluate the appropriateness of different approaches to decision-making
  • 9. work strategically; planning and reflecting upon wider societal issues when making managerial decisions

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
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities11Lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities10Workshops
Scheduled Learning and Teaching5Draft essay feedback
Guided independent study44Reading and Research
Guided independent study50Essay Writing
Guided independent study30Report Preparation

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay Proposal (individual)1000 words1-9Verbal feedback and guidance from module lead

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
Essay (individual)753000 words1-9Written Feedback
Report (individual)251000 words1-9Written Feedback

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
ReportResubmission (25%)1-9Aug/Sep
EssayResubmission (75%)1-9Aug/Sep

Re-assessment notes

If you are referred/deferred in the module, you will be required to resubmit the failed or missing piece of work.

Syllabus plan

This syllabus list is indicative with content varying each year depending on availability of speakers.

  • Introduction to Ethics and the Organization
  • Ethical motivation
  • Ethical theory and decision-making
  • Personal values and organisational values
  • The values driven organisation
  • Ethics and CSR reporting
  • How do we decide who to believe?
  • Ethics and the market
  • Environmental ethics in Buddhism
  • Corporate Governance – board decision making
  • Ethics and the system
  • Working within the system

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:

A full reading pack is supplied to students for this module (on ELE) 

Selected readings include:

Arjoon, S. (2010). Aristotelian-Thomistic virtue ethics, emotional intelligence and decision-making. Advances in Management, 3(4), 7–13.

Bishop, T. R. (1992). Integrating business ethics into an undergraduate curriculum. Journal of Business Ethics11(4), 291-299.

Oddo, A. R. (1997). A framework for teaching business ethics. Journal of Business Ethics16(3), 293-297.

Zollo, L., Pellegrini, M. M., & Ciappei, C. (2016) What Sparks Ethical Decision Making? The Interplay Between Moral Intuition and Moral Reasoning: Lessons from the Scholastic Doctrine. Journal of Business Ethics, 1-20.

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