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University of Exeter Business School

Contemporary Leadership Issues

Module titleContemporary Leadership Issues
Module codeBEM3047
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Dr Alison Legood (Lecturer)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Module description


The aim of this module is to provide students with the opportunity to actively participate in a series of discussions which focus on three key contemporary leadership issues. In doing so, the module looks to challenge student’s implicit conceptions of leadership and to develop a more sophisticated understanding of real-world leadership. This will allow students to participate in advanced dialogue, grounded in critical engagement with a selection of relevant academic literature and a practical case study/perspective. Each topic will be explored through engagement with theory and research, case study analysis and real world examples. Particular attention will be paid to how a given topic plays out in society and organizations. The overarching aim of this module is to elaborate and develop your academic knowledge, inquiry and reasoning skills.


Additional Information: Internationalisation:

This module focuses on contemporary workplace issues, recognizing the increasing breadth and diversity of workplaces, the interdependence of public, private, and community sectors, and the dynamic interplay between global and local factors. All topics and discussions highlight the importance of being mindful of the key stakeholders for a particular issue, and the need to develop an informed and considered understanding of who it is that will be influenced/impacted by the decisions that you (and others) may make when in a leadership or management role. With all topics we will ensure that we work to take global perspectives into account, both in terms of our understanding of the issue and by drawing on the different backgrounds and perspectives of class members.



The notion of leading responsibly, factoring in the environment, society and corporate social responsibility is embedded throughout the module.

All of the resources for this module are available on the ELE (Exeter Learning Environment). External Engagement:

For each topic we will draw from real world examples to consider the implications of a given contemporary leadership issue for those working within organizations and society more broadly. Case studies will also be utilized to allow for a greater depth of understanding around a given case context.



This module equips students with the ability to apply critical thinking when exploring issues of relevance to contemporary workplaces and the implications of such issues for leading and being led. This ability to ask critical questions is an essential higher order thinking skill that will underpin all future management  practice.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The aim of this module is to provide students with the opportunity to actively participate in a series of seminar discussions focused upon key contemporary leadership issues.

Three broad leadership themes will be covered over the course of the module, to allow sufficient in-depth engagement with each issue. The overarching aim of this module is to allow students to participate in advanced dialogue around a number of contemporary leadership issues. Students are expected to apply the knowledge and skills acquired during the previous two years of study to the issues and dilemmas presented in this module. This third-year module seeks to consolidate all prior learning, using a broad theoretical base to understand and critically appraise contemporary leadership challenges.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. demonstrate the analytical skills necessary to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of theoretical, empirical and experienced based leadership around a particular contemporary issue
  • 2. be able to devise and sustain arguments which comment on both theoretical and practical aspects of contemporary leadership issue(s)

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 3. develop a generally well-informed appreciation of what is involved in taking up leadership roles and in following the lead of others
  • 4. critically explore the reality of leadership and how theory offers a lens by which to make sense of that reality, with reference to the ethical implications of leadership

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 5. develop a sophisticated understanding of what effective contemporary leadership might look like for you engage with wider reading encouraged as part of the course
  • 6. be able to communicate the key features of effective contemporary leaders in a compelling way

Syllabus plan

The module will cover three leadership issues each semester, to allow sufficient in-depth engagement with each issue. Topics could include the following issues (with the focus being on the intersection between these issues and leadership thought and practice):

  • Diversity and Inclusion
  • Responsible Leadership and the challenge of Sustainability
  • Ethical dilemmas in leadership
  • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Workplace Stress and Wellbeing

Up to 3 topics will be covered. The choice of topics will vary from year to year to reflect shifting research interests and debates in the field.

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 Activity22Interactive Lectures

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
In-class activities1-6verbal feedback from lecturer

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
Written Individual assignment502000 words (+/- 10%)1, 5, 6Written feedback from lecturers
Examination502 questions from a choice of 4 (2 hours) 1, 2, 3, 4Written feedback from lecturer

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Assignment (50%)Assignment (50%)1, 5,6 August Examination Period
Examination (50%)Examination (50%)1,2,3,4,August Examination Period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Northouse, P.G. (2018) Introduction to Leadership. London: Sage

A broad range of academic articles will be issued; they will be drawn together based upon the topic of study. Additional research using electronic journals is recommended.

Key words search

Leadership, ethics, diversity.

Credit value15
Module pre-requisites

None, although some understanding of leadership theory and practice will stand students in good stead for this module.

Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date