Business Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility

Key information

Start date
End date
Year of study
Year 2
Module code
FHEQ Level
School of Finance and Management

Module overview

Business ethics may sound like a contradiction in terms. After all, businesses are supposed to make money and that’s pretty much it. But making money isn’t everything, it may come at a cost to the people working in the business, the environment and, potentially, even the long-term viability of the business.

Those running businesses are aware of this and are constantly trying to strike a balance between simply extracting cash and doing other things which ensure that the business can continue to function into the future.

As the world globalises and resources deplete, these issues have become more complex. Businesses have to engage with societies with different structures, norms and cultures in a way that they may not have done previously. The speed of information transfer means that problems may be geographically far away but news spreads fast.

In short, it’s potentially a confusing mess. This module aims to help understand the elements of the problem by looking at the relationship between business and ethics, and exploring the role of organisations in society, as well as their responsibility to society.

The module combines academic thinking about business ethics and corporate social responsibility with real-world case studies to help students think through the complex problems of business ethics and consider how ethical principles could influence management decisions. The types of real-world problems studied include business decisions’ effect on climate change, on depletion of natural resources, on employee welfare, and on the welfare of local and wider communities. This involves balancing the interests of shareholders against those of other stakeholders and balancing short term against long term interests. The module critically evaluates corporate social responsibility strategies and concepts of the firm as an organisation of stakeholders.  The importance of transparency, the role of whistleblowers, and the nature of bribery are also discussed.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

  • An understanding of:
  • Principles of ethics
  • Ethics and the role of the firm.
  • Ethics and firms’ management structure and strategy.
  • The relation between ethical principles and individuals’ decisions in management
  • Critical evaluation of concepts of business ethics
  • Applying ethics in problem solving through case studies


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules