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University of Exeter Business School

Business and Society

Module titleBusiness and Society
Module codeBEM1018
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Suzana Pavic (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

This module is designed to help you develop an understanding of the relationship between business and society, ethics, sustainability and corporate responsibility. Throughout the module you will engage with some of the global challenges business and society are facing, and appreciate how business can make a positive contribution to society and help tackle those challenges by integrating purposeful leadership, ethics, innovative business models and corporate social responsibility (CSR) in strategic planning. In seminars structured around action learning sets, 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 in to your discussion and inquiry.

Additional Information

Internationalisation: Students will identify and appreciate the global challenges that business and society face while taking a  global perspective in their critical review process.

Sustainability: By understanding the need to integrate sustainability in the strategic planning process students will appreciate how innovative business models can contribute to a more sustainable world while enhancing the firm’s profitability

External Engagement: Students are required to actively engage with the external world, this includes reviewing quality journalism, academic blog posts and academic twitter feeds and engaging with guest speakers when appropriate

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

Module aims - intentions of the module

As governments evidence a leadership deficit in their ability to tackle the global challenges of the 21st century, society is increasingly expecting business to help build cohesive and prosperous societies and promote a more sustainable form of capitalism. By developing strategies aimed at achieving longer term, rather than short term objectives and incorporating sustainability and corporate social responsibility in their strategic planning business is in a position to make a positive contribution to society.

This module introduces you to the global economic, societal, technological and environmental challenges of the 21st century, and identifies how, through greater alignment of business interest with that of society, purposeful leadership, business ethics, business model innovation and a circular approach to the economy business can be a “force for good”. 

By taking the module you will acquire knowledge and skills that are essential as you progress through your studies. You will develop an understanding of the connections (and tensions) between individual, organisational, and societal actions and outcomes, as well as critical thinking and analysis, debating and essay writing skills through action learning and assessment methods that promote the development of a global, entrepreneurial and analytical mind-set.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. outline the complexities that characterise the relationship between business and society, appreciating the existence of key stakeholders and their expectations;
  • 2. assess the role of ethics, purposeful leadership and business model innovation in enabling organisations to make a positive contribution to society.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 3. assess the ways through which corporate social responsibility and ethics can be integrated in strategic planning while managing conflicting interests and negative externalities;
  • 4. evaluate the existence of purposeful leadership and purpose-driven business models and their ability to “do good” while enhancing firm performance.

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 5. through critical review of published material, 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. evidence critical thinking and analysis skills while engaging with assigned readings and contributing to enquiry-led discussions in tutorials.

Syllabus plan

There are ten, 2-hour long weekly lectures delivered in a variety of styles, structured around the following themes:

  • The role of business in tackling global economic, societal, technological and environmental challenges
  • Why do incredibly intelligent people do incredibly stupid things? Business and ethics
  • A multi stakeholders approach to business
  • Managing interests and negative externalities
  • Integrating Corporate Social Responsibility in organisational and strategic planning
  • Great companies have great purpose: purposeful leadership for a “conscious capitalism”
  • Aiming for growth through purpose-driven business models
  • Leading sustainable organisations: the Circular Economy

To complement the lectures, eight tutorials of 1-hour each take place weekly in weeks 2-10 and are structured around action-learning sets. Tutorials are delivered in a variety of styles and modes. You will explore the critical thinking process and develop your enquiry skills through a series of exercises, as well as formative and summative assignments. The focus of the module is on developing the skills needed to critically engage in understanding the many factors that shape the relationship between business and society

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 Activity2010 x 2 hr lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activity88 x 1-hour tutorial
Guided Independent Study122Reading, researching and discussion

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Weekly short tests and quizzesVaried1-4Grade provided

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
MCQ weekly quizzes (Film Review)5Quizzes – 4x15 MCQs (To be completed prior to Film Review)1-7Written feedback
Essay 1– Film Review35Essay - 1,000 words1-7Written feedback
MCQ weekly quizzes (Theoretical and Topical Analysis)5Quizzes – 4x15 MCQs (To be completed prior to Theoretical and Topical Analysis Essay)1-7Written feedback
Essay 2– Theoretical and Topical Analysis55Essay - 1,500 words1-7Written feedback

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
4 x MCQs Film Review (5%)Single MCQ Film Review (5%)1-7August/September Reassessment Period
Film Review (35%)Film Review Essay (1000 words max) (35%)1-7August/September Reassessment Period
4x MCQs Theoretical and Topical Analysis (5%)Single MCQ Theoretical and Topical Analysis (5%)1-7August/September Reassessment Period
Theoretical and Topical Analysis (55%)Theoretical and Topical Analysis (2000 words max) (55%)1-7August/September Reassessment Period

Re-assessment notes


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Carroll, A. B., Brown; J. A. Bushholtz and A. K. (2018). Business and Society: Ethics, Sustainability and Stakeholder Management, 10th Ed. Cengage Learning.

Kotler, P. (2015). Confronting Capitalism: Real Solutions for a Troubled Economic System. Amacom: American Management Association.

Witzel, M. (2018). The Ethical Leader: Why Doing the Right Thing Can Be the Key to Competitive Advantage. Bloomsbury


The core text for this module can be found in the university electronic resources, a link will be provided on ELE

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

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

Key words search

Corporate Social Responsibility, Business and Society, Capitalism, Consumerism, Business ethics, Responsible business, Governance and ethics

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites

None – however this module complements BEM1016/1016A

NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date