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University of Exeter Business School

Strategic Innovation for Sustainable Business

Module titleStrategic Innovation for Sustainable Business
Module codeBEPM009
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Dr S.W. Chiu (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

Strategic business innovations are increasingly shaped by responses to rapidly changing societal and ecological conditions. As such, sustainability has become a driver for strategic innovation in emerging and established companies.

Moreover, an increased demand for ‘sustainable products/services’ from consumers has stimulated businesses to combine design and system thinking to sustainability-oriented strategies. Given this background, this module discusses the building blocks of strategies related to innovation, and how to identify key aspects of sustainable business models.

Particularly, this module will help you to understand sustainability as a set of guiding principles to design innovative products, processes and business strategies.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The module seeks to equip you with a manual of tools to advance innovation in an era of rapid transformation.  By the end of the module, you will be familiar with major research and theories that underpin latest debates on sustainability, circular innovation, and economic growth. Learning from a series of case studies, you will have the opportunity to apply theories into solving real-life problems, including major global challenges highlighted in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). The module will culminate in a final assignment of venture creation, when you will apply what you have learned to propose an innovative project that delivers both commercial and social value for society.

Upon completion of the module, you will gain a set of skills and knowledge relevant to employments in governments, industry, and third sector, including but not limited to chief sustainability officer, communications specialists, social and/or industry entrepreneurs, and Environment, Sustainability and Governance (ESG) specialists for major corporations, governments, and/or third sector. 

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Critically evaluate major concepts and theories that underpin contemporary practices, policy, regulations, and debates in the field of innovation and sustainable business;
  • 2. Apply theories and frameworks to critically analyse real-life scenarios/practices.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 3. Apply cross-disciplinary knowledge critically for advancing sustainable economic growth;
  • 4. Articulate the importance of integrating Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) values in innovation efforts and sustaining economic growth.

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 5. Conduct research and present critical analyses in a coherent and structured manner;
  • 6. Reflect on the need for sustainable innovation to develop convincing arguments for systemic change.

Syllabus plan

The module will cover, but not be limited to, the following themes:

  • Regenerative Tourism
  • Frontier Technologies for Sustainable Business
  • Sustainability and Disruptive Innovation
  • Radical and Incremental Innovation
  • Strategic Technology Governance
  • Managing Risk and Uncertainty
  • Stakeholder Engagement for Sustainable Growth
  • Sustainable Growth and Circular Innovation
  • Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) values
  • Sustainable Business Model innovation

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 activities 10Lectures (10 x 1 hour)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching activities 12A series of seminars, workshops, guest talks from practitioners, and simulations is designed to support the core lectures (10 x 1 hour) Assessment Clinic (2 X 1 hour)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching activities 2Field visit (1 x 2 hour)
Guided Independent Study126Preparation and research for lectures, seminars and assessments

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
In-class interactive exercises 1-3 exercises/ class1-4, 6Verbal
In-class presentations of developmental ideas20 minutes/ class1-3, 6Verbal

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
Open-book online quiz401 x 1.5 hours quiz1-4Written
Individual assignment603000 words1-5Written

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Open-book online quizOpen-book online quiz (1 x 1.5 hours quiz)1-4Referral/deferral period
Individual assignmentIndividual assignment (3000 words)1-5Referral/deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you have been deferred for any assessment you will be expected to submit the relevant assessment. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 50%) you will be required to sit a further examination. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will count for 100% of the final mark and will be capped at 50%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Goffin, K. & Mitchell, R. (2017). Innovation Management - Effective strategy and implementation, London: Palgrave.
  • Jasanoff, S. (2016). The Ethics of Invention - Technology and the Human Future, New York: W.W. Norton. (Diversifying/ Supporting EDI curriculum)
  • Davenport, J. The Green Start-Up: Making your business better for the planet, Heligo Books, 2002. (Diversifying/ Supporting EDI curriculum)
  • Fagerberg, J., Mowery, D. & Nelson, R. (2006). The Oxford Handbook of Innovation, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Mowforth, M. and Munt, I. (2016) Tourism and Sustainability: Development, Globalisation and New Tourism in the Third World, 4th edition, London: Routledge.
  • Alexander, A. & Kokshagina, O. (2020). The Radical Innovation Playbook: A Practical Guide for Harnessing New, Novel or Game-Changing Breakthroughs. De Gruyter.

Key words search

Business, management consultancy, governance, environment, sustainability, climate change, biomimicry, circular economy

Credit value15
Module ECTS


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NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date