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 dilemmas that confront people working in contemporary organisations and to develop reflective skills to enable personal response to such dilemmas. The module is delivered by means of 11 lectures plus four action learning seminars. Lectures are delivered by speakers from both academia and professional practice and each one-hour lecture explores a particular aspect of ethics within contemporary organisations. As a final year module, students have the chance to engage in a significant amount of critical reflection, self-directed study and collaborative group work, 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.


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.

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.

Full module specification

Module title:Ethics and Organisations
Module code:BEM3009
Module level:3
Academic year:2016/7
Module lecturers:
  • Ms Jackie Bagnall - Lecturer
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 work independently and in teams to analyse and debate ethical dilemmas
  • 8. communicate effectively to specialist and non-specialist audiences, presenting own point of view in a structured, clear and coherent manner.
  • 9. critically evaluate the appropriateness of different approaches to problem-solving.
  • 10. 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 Activities111 hour weekly lecture
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities84 x 2 Hour Action Learning seminars

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
In a small action learning group, students will explore a series of problem-based exercises. Each exercise will explore an aspect of ethics and draw upon academic theory. The output from each of the 3 exercises is an individual enquiry log.A portfolio of three critical enquiry pieces which develop critical enquiry skills. 2-8The logs develop student thinking for the summative work. One: one support – review and discussion of the enquiry log with module convenor.

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
Individual enquiry log – maximum of 3,000 words. This log is a personal enquiry against a series of critical questions, on one of three aspects of ethics – Self, Organisation or Society.25Each student completes a portfolio of three action learning logs – choosing one to submit as a final piece of critical enquiry. 2-8Written and verbal feedback from tutor
An individual essay which requires student to analyse and determine the appropriate course of action when faced with a contemporary business scenario. Demonstrate consideration of the ethical dimensions of the scenario, critically reflecting upon the decisions made. Students need to illustrate their argument with case studies and explicit links to relevant academic theory. 752750 words1-7, 9,10Written feedback from academic tutor

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Enquiry LogResubmission (25%)2-8July
EssayResubmission (75%)1-7, 9, 10July

Re-assessment notes

If you are referred/ deferred in the module, you will be required to resubmit the failed ior 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 Organisation
  • 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

Crane, A. and Matten, D. (2007) Business Ethics, 2nd Edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

LaFolette, H. (2000) TheBlackwell Guide to Ethical Theory, Oxford:Blackwell

Blackburn, S. (2001) Being Good – A short introduction to ethics, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Parker, M. (ed.) (1998.) Ethics and Organizations, London: Sage

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Indicative learning resources - Other resources

A range of contemporary academic and professional journal articles, eg Journal of Business Ethics.

Origin date


Last revision date