Critical Perspectives on Business Ethics - BUSN5025

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2024 to 2025
Spring Term 5 15 (7.5) Alexandra Couto checkmark-circle


Many contemporary businesses claim to champion "ethical business" and list it as one of their core values, but what does it mean for a business to act “ethically” and how can managers work to ensure that ethical decision making is embedded throughout their organizations?
This module will grapple with and address philosophical questions relevant to practical business problems and the work of managing in contemporary organisations. For example, how does “the person” fit within “the corporation” and can either act as a morally responsible agent? Do organizations have a responsibility to protect their customers from harmful products or is caveat emptor a sound governing principle? Does an organization have a responsibility to be sustainable and monitor its wider social and environmental impact, or are natural resources simply those that it can use as it sees fit within the bounds of the law? Should a business pay fair wages, source products from trusted supply chains, and protect whistle-blowers? Is there a “business of business ethics”, that is to say, is ethical business just a tool for furthering profitability?
This module will take a case study based approach to understanding and critically assaying the ethical dilemmas that contemporary businesses and managers face, looking at different examples each week in order to develop an appreciation of different ethical perspectives. It contributes to employability by supporting students to develop their critical thinking and reasoning skills.


Contact hours

Private Study: 128
Contact Hours: 22
Total: 150

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods
Individual presentation ("Expert Opinion" - 3 minutes) - 20%
Individual Critical Summary (1,000 words) - 20%
Individual Essay (2,500 words) - 60%

Reassessment methods
100% coursework

Indicative reading

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
- Understand and contrast a variety of normative ethical frameworks
- Apply different ethical concepts and frameworks to the analysis of practical problems in business and management
- Critically analyse business and management practices around ethical decision-making in the face of the economic, social, and environmental challenges faced by public, private and not-for-profit organisations
- Critically reflect on the role of "business ethics" and "sustainability" in the contemporary business environment

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
- Demonstrate an understanding of the ethical dilemmas faced by contemporary organizations
- Demonstrate an ability to communicate effectively and confidently about business ethics issues across different contexts to specialist and non-specialist audiences;
- Demonstrate enhanced critical thinking skills and the ability to draw on ethical concepts and frameworks to articulate complex arguments;


  1. Credit level 5. Intermediate level module usually taken in Stage 2 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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