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University of Exeter Business School

Sustainable Business Management

Module titleSustainable Business Management
Module codeBEPM008
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Dr Jose Melenez Roman (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

Organisations are doing more than ever before to tackle issues like climate change, poverty human rights and corruption. As businesses become ever more engaged in sustainability initiatives around the world it becomes increasingly important for them to embrace ideas of ethical practice and sustainable business management. To this end, the module is intended as a foundational model to enable you to deepen your knowledge and skills in the management of environmental sustainability and social responsibility.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The aim of the module is to help you develop the capacities to think and design actions to create more sustainable futures for yourself, your organisations and your communities. More specifically, the module will cause you to challenge (and overthrow) the business-as-usual model in search of a more integrated, systemic approach to business management. You will learn to design actions that will lead to more sustainable futures by studying concepts such as Sustainability, Business Ethics and Social Responsibility, Natural Capital, cradle-to-cradle, ecological economics, ecosystem services, circular economy, and regenerative business.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Understand key principles, theories, and strategies to analyse and implement sustainable business management practices.
  • 2. Appraise business management through a complexity and systems aware lens to assess business sustainability performance.
  • 3. Develop an impact-focused sustainability career plan to address societal, political, economic and environment needs.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 4. Critically analyse the role of businesses in achieving the sustainable development goals and local needs.
  • 5. Reflect on the tensions and challenges faced by businesses to engage in sustainable practices.

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 6. Demonstrate high level critical thinking skills to apply theory to practice.
  • 7. Critically engage with interdisciplinary academic literature to develop convincing arguments.
  • 8. Think creatively about different communication strategies to effectively convey business-aware complex information to diverse audiences.

Syllabus plan

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

  • The wider context: Planetary boundaries, natural capital, SDGs and the economic model.
  • Understanding the role of business in society and environment: ecological economics, doughnut economics, and the circular economy.
  • Business analysis from a complex adaptive systems and systems thinking perspective.
  • Sustainable production and consumption: consumer behaviour as driver and barrier for sustainable businesses.
  • Sustainability marketing
  • Business corporations: ESG and CSR.
  • Social enterprises, social impact investment and grassroots entrepreneurship.
  • Designing sustainable business models: cradle to cradle, nature-based solutions and regenerative. practices.
  • Sustainability-oriented innovation.
  • Financing sustainable businesses.
  • Governance and sustainability transitions.
  • Collective actions and businesses.
  • Business ethics and social responsibility.
  • Sustainable business management and leadership.
  • The institutional environment: businesses and environmental, social and sustainability public policies.

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 2211 x 2-hour lectures with the module leader or guest speakers combined with application exercises
Scheduled Learning and Teaching 6Seminars to apply key theories in practical settings
Scheduled Learning and Teaching 4Field trip to assess sustainable business principles in real-world scenarios
Guided independent study 118Preparation for seminars, career mapping, reading materials, individual research and project work.

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Sustainability career map 250 words 3,5,8Verbal and written
Group report plan 5-minute presentation 2,4,6,8 Verbal

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
Sustainability career map 301000-word statement & 5-minute presentation 3,5,8 Verbal and written
Sustainability assessment group report and presentation 703000 words & 10-minute presentation 1,2,4,6,7,8 Verbal and written

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Individual essay (40%) Individual essay (30%) - 1000 words 3,5,8 Referral/deferral period
Sustainability assessment group report (60%) Sustainability assessment report (70%) - 3000 words 1,2,4,6,7,8 Referral/deferral period

Re-assessment notes

The sustainability assessment report will be individual and without a presentation.

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

  • Blowfield, M. ( 2013) Business and Sustainability, Oxford, Oxford University Press
  • Kopnina, H. & Bliwett J (2018) Sustainable Business, Issues, London, Routledge
  • Alexander, A., Pascucci, S. & Charnley, F. (2023).?Handbook of the Circular Economy: Transitions and Transformation. Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter.?
  • Geissdoerfer, M., Vladimirova, D., & Evans, S. (2018). Sustainable business model innovation: A review.?Journal of cleaner production,?198, 401-416.
  • Bocken, N. M., Short, S. W., Rana, P., & Evans, S. (2014). A literature and practice review to develop sustainable business model archetypes.?Journal of cleaner production,?65, 42-56.

Key words search

Business, environment, sustainability, climate change, biomimicry, circular economy 

Credit value15
Module ECTS


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NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


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Last revision date