Business and Society

Module description

This module is designed to help students develop an understanding of the relationships between business and society, ethics, sustainability and corporate responsibility. Throughout the module you will engage with critical inquiry, using questions as a tool to explore the concepts and issues that emerge from within the module. We use a mixture of lectures, films, guest speakers and action learning to engage you with the critical thinking process. Students are actively encouraged to bring their own experiences as a citizen in to their discussion and inquiry.

Additional Information

Internationalisation: Students are expected to take a global perspective in their critical review process, exploring the various cultural dimensions of business activity. The examples and case studies used in teaching take an international (multi-cultural) perspective.

Sustainability: The natural environment is the context for inquiry - through case studies and personal account, students will explore sustainability, ethics and responsible consumption.  

External Engagement: Students are required to actively engage with the external world, this includes but is not limited to reviewing quality journalism, academic blog posts and academic twitter feeds.

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

Full module specification

Module title:Business and Society
Module code:BEM1018
Module level:1
Academic year:2017/8
Module lecturers:
  • Professor Nicolas Forsans -
Module credit:15
ECTS value:





None – but this module complements BEM1016/1016A

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


Module aims

The module aims to provide students with an understanding of the connections (and tensions) between individual, organisational, and societal actions and outcomes, while also retaining a positive/entrepreneurial outlook. This module will explore global issues and frame student assessment through action learning, critical analysis, visual representation and essay writing. 

It is worth keeping in mind that much of the material covered in this module is by its nature somewhat controversial and political.  Consider, for example, the following questions:

  • What role do consumers play in unethical production?
  • Do businesses have any social responsibilities?’
  • What role should the State play in regulating businesses?’
  • What labour standards should companies adhere to when manufacturing in developing countries?

These are questions to which there is no ‘one right answer’.  We are less interested in your ability to learn facts on a subject and more interested in your ability to put aside preconceived ideas and think critically about a subject, exploring it from a range of positions.  This module takes place in the second term of your first year and prepares you for the critical enquiry skills needed as you progress through university.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. critically assess differing viewpoints by drawing on a wide range of academic research
  • 2. outline the complexities that characterise the relationship between business and society

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. describe and assess the current and historical factors that determine the impact of business on society
  • 4. explore a range of topical social, environmental and ethical issues and analyse the social, economic and political impact underpinning each.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 5. through critical review - 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. research, prepare and present own analysis on a contemporary issue
  • 8. engage with assigned readings and actively contribute to the enquiry led discussions in tutorials

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
Contact hours10Lectures
Inquiry based activity10Engage in social research
Guided independent study124Reading, research and discussion

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Prepare a 250 word critical review - materials will be providedSubmit A4 PDF of photo montage with reflections on peer feedback.4, 5, 6, 7Provided by tutor

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
Write two 250 word critical reviews - materials will be provided30500 words in total4, 5, 6, 7Provided by tutor
Write 1,000 word position paper creating an argument against an issue you feel strongly about701,000 wordsAllProvided by tutor

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Critical Reviews Resubmission of coursework1,2,4,5,6,7,8July
Position PaperResubmission of courseworkAllJuly

Re-assessment notes

Weighting will be equivalent to original assignments

Syllabus plan

There are ten one hour lectures, themes include but are not limited to:

  • The relationship between business and society
  • Business, Society and Responsibility
  • Corporate Governance and Stakeholders
  • The crisis of Capitalism
  • Business and Technology 
  • The business case for Human Rights
  • Ethics and Stakeholders in Business
  • Business & Governments
  • Business & Consumerism 
  • Sustainability and Circular Economy 

Eight tutorials will take place in weeks 2 – 10 and are structured around action-learning sets.  Students will explore the critical thinking process and develop their enquiry skills through a series of exercises and assignments.  The focus in tutorials is on developing the skills needed to critically engage in understanding the many social, environmental, political and economic factors that shape both business and society.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading: The core text for this module can be found in the university electronic resources; a link will be provided on ELE.

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

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

Origin date


Last revision date