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NBS8493 : Corporate Social Responsibility and the Challenge of Ethical Business

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Peter Edward
  • Owning School: Newcastle University Business School
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0
European Credit Transfer System


This module develops a critical appreciation of issues and debates concerning business’s involvement in, and impact on, major issues confronting society today and the consequent changes that are emerging in the role and responsibilities of business in relation to global society. Too often Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is seen merely as an issue that business can manage. This module starts by considering such business-oriented understandings of ethical responsibility but then moves beyond this to look both at the wider impacts of business in society and at how globalisation is changing the nature of society’s expectations of responsible and ethical business. The module aims to develop the students’ critical faculties by inviting them to examine how as future managers of responsible businesses they might respond to these changing expectations.

The module starts by examining the origins and history of business ethics and corporate social responsibility (CSR). It then considers recent trends and developments in CSR and relevant aspects of corporate governance. This enables us to position the activities of business in relation to the systemic challenge posed by the major issues confronting global society today, with specific reference to the role of business in relation to these issues now and in the future.

Outline Of Syllabus

The syllabus will typically cover the following themes
1. Introduction to the role of business in society
2. History of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) – from philanthropy to politicisation
3. Current perspectives on CSR – the business case for responsibility or society’s case for business?
4. Exploring the role of business in systemic social change and responding to the future needs of society
5. Review of current issues relating to the role of business in society. Topics vary from year to year depending on what issues are topical at the time. Typical topics might include some of the following: sustainable business and sustainability; business and international development; business responses to climate change; resource limits; business in an age of scarcity and uncertainty; business and citizenship.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture83:0024:00PiP
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion201:0020:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading241:0024:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops18:008:00PiP. Presentations
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity91:009:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study151:0015:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures supplement student reading to provide the theoretical and practical knowledge required to understand and analyse the relationship between international business and social issues. Lectures also equip students with a framework for student-centred inter-disciplinary learning through the elaboration of relevant theoretical perspectives not merely from management theory but also including political science, development studies and social theory.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Oral Presentation202M15Group presentation.
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M852500 word essay, undertaken independently
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Oral Presentation2MSmall group presentation and discussion of essay plan
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Formative feedback is provided through debate in class on the relevance of student ideas and understanding of the course material.
A specific formative feedback session with peer review of essay plans helps students to clarify their approach to the essay.
The assessment essay tests the students individually to assess how well they have developed both their factual understanding and their skills in evaluation and critique.
Assessed presentations by groups enable the students to practice teamwork and presentation skills.

Online assessment (if needed): If practicable the format of the groupwork presentation will be changed to another format deliverable remotely (e.g. poster, voiced-over powerpoint). If that is not practicable then assessment will be 100% essay.

Reading Lists