Environment, Society and Business

Module description

Scientists from across the world, environmental movements and campaigners such as Greta Thunberg argue that we are running out of time to save our world from irreparable ecological damage. This module draws attention to the role our economy plays in exacerbating the ecological crisis, and what a sustainable economy might look like. The module offers an introductory insight into different traditions of economic thought linking the economy and the environment. In so doing, it provides the theoretical basis for understanding, designing and implementing new purpose-driven business models, enabling business to make a positive contribution to the environment and society. No prior knowledge skills or experience is needed in order to able to take this module. This module is recommended for interdisciplinary pathways. It cannot be taken by BEP1010 Business and Society students.

Full module specification

Module title:Environment, Society and Business
Module code:BEP1110
Module level:1
Academic year:2021/2
Module lecturers:
  • Dr Laura Colombo - Convenor
Module credit:15
ECTS value:





Cannot be taken with BEP1010

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


Module aims

This module is designed to help you develop a deeper understanding of the relationship between the economy, business and society. Throughout the module, you will engage with some of the global challenges the environment, business and society are facing, and appreciate how business can make a positive contribution in tackling those challenges through purpose-driven business models that are distributive and regenerative by design. In seminars, structured around continuous reflexive practice, 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 into discussion and inquiry.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Articulate the complexity of the interdependent relationship between the environment, society and business
  • 2. Compare, contrast and apply a range of theories on environment and economy (such as neoclassical economics, environmental economics and ecological economics)
  • 3. Assess the role of purpose-driven business models in enabling business to make a positive contribution to the environment and society

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. Engage with pluralist economic thinking
  • 5. Evaluate purpose-driven business models and their ability to contribute towards more equitable and sustainable societies

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 6. Communicate evidence-based ideas and present compelling argument
  • 7. Reflect on the challenges of working collaboratively, and inclusively, encountering different perspectives to achieve shared goals
  • 8. Evidence critical analytical thinking when working with others

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 Activity10Lectures (10 x 1 hours)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activity10 Seminars (10 x 1 hours)
Guided Independent Study130Reading, research, reflective writing and assessment preparation

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Reflective learning log15 hours1-8Verbal

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
Group report301000 words1-8Written
Essay702500 words1-8Written

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Group report (1000 words) (30%)Individual assignment (1000 words) (30%)1-8August reassessment period
Essay (2500 words) (70%)Essay (2500 words) (70%)1-8August reassessment period

Re-assessment notes

Re-assessment consists of an updated/improved submission of the original assessment

Syllabus plan

Topics discussed on the module include (not exclusively):


  • An economy within the environment: the interaction between economic activity and the environment
  • Economic schools and the environment: environmental economics
  • Economic schools and the environment: ecological economics
  • Economic schools and the environment: doughnut economics
  • Economic schools and the environment in the Global South
  • Change the goal: purpose-driven business models
  • Design to distribute: opportunities and limitations of corporate social responsibility
  • Create to regenerate: opportunities and limitations of the circular economy  
  • Cooperation, collaboration and partnership
  • Stories from the field: purposeful entrepreneurship in Cornwall

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

The following books are a key resource for this course:


  • Cato, M. S. (2020). Environment and Economy (2nd Edition). Routledge.
  • Gibson-Graham, J. K., & Dombroski, K. (Eds.). (2020). The Handbook of Diverse Economies. Edward Elgar.
  • Raworth, K. (2017). Doughnut Economics. Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist. Chelsea Green Publishing.

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Other resources

  • Blowfield, M. (2013). Business and Sustainability. Oxford University Press.
  • Carroll, A.. B.  & A. K. Buchholtz, (2015). Business & Society. Ethics, Sustainability, and Stakeholder Management (9th Edition). Cengage.
  • Gray, B., & Purdy, J. (2018). Collaborating for our future: Multistakeholder partnerships for solving complex problems. Oxford University Press.
  • Mazzucato, M. (2021). Mission economy: A moonshot guide to changing capitalism. Penguin.
  • Parker, M., Cheney, G., Fournier, V., & Land, C. (2013). The Routledge companion to alternative organization. Routledge.
  • Ridley-Duff, R., & Bull, M. (2011). Understanding social enterprise: Theory and practice. Sage.
  • Seitanidi & A. Crane (Eds.), Social partnerships and responsible business: A research handbook (pp. 335-341). Routledge.
  • Thompson, J., & Doherty, B. (2006). The diverse world of social enterprise: A collection of social enterprise stories. International Journal of Social Economics, 33(5/6), 361-375.

Origin date


Last revision date