Innovation and Sustainability

The details
Essex Business School
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 6
Thursday 05 October 2023
Friday 15 December 2023
05 October 2023


Requisites for this module
BE400 or BE401 or IA152



Key module for


Module description

This module will explore the role innovation can play in the transformation of economic activity and organisational design in order to promote sustainable development, including (but not limited to) its importance in mitigating and adapting to climate change.

Faced with runaway climate change, mass extinction, and persistent pollution, sustainability is the most pressing concern of the 21st century. With scientists suggesting there is little more than a decade to dramatically transform our economies and societies, innovation and innovation management has never been more crucial.

The module is organised around three key themes: analysis of contemporary environmental and sustainability issues; managing sustainable innovation in technology and organisation design; managing sustainable transition and disruption.

A number of key ideas will be used to provide a framework for learning. These include past and current theories on sustainability, growth and innovation (with specific reference to the role of technology), understanding and influencing directions of innovation, and the governance of socio-technical transitions.

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To enable students to understand the challenges of managing sustainable innovation.

  • To critically examine contemporary economic and social challenges posed by climate change.

  • To develop capabilities for managing disruption and transition.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students will be expected to be able to:

  1. Articulate and utilise a working knowledge of issues concerning innovation and sustainability and critically evaluate the main perspectives on innovation and the environment.

  2. Apply concepts from innovation theory to contemporary sustainability challenges, including issues related to technological innovation and uptake, organisation design and consumer/citizen engagement.

  3. Understand the innovation dimensions of contemporary environmental problems using a mix of resources.

Module information

The indicative syllabus consists of four key blocks:

  • Block 1: Context and perspectives. Two lectures covering (i) contemporary sustainability challenges, including an introduction to key scientific, business and policy terms and (ii) Current innovation and sustainable development trends.

  • Block 2: Sustainable innovation. This block will explore the scope of sustainable innovation, including technological and technical approaches, ranging in complexity, novelty and 'newness'; the role of innovation research; diffusion and adoption; sustainable innovation in services. Emphasis will be on working with contemporary examples and applying innovation theories to real-world examples.

  • Block 3: Sustainable management. This block will explore approaches to managing innovation within organisations; alternate approaches to organisational management and organisational design; and managing sustainable organisational transitions and disruption.

  • Block 4: Limits to innovation? This block will comprise two lectures covering (i) contemporary policy and regulatory approaches to sustainable innovation and (ii) limits to innovation as a means of securing sustainability.

Learning and teaching methods

This module will be delivered via:

  • Lectures; In-class formative assessments; Group work; Self-Study

The lectures will be developed around the key concepts as mentioned in the indicative module content and will use a range of live examples and cases from real-world practice to demonstrate the application of theoretical concepts.

Lectures will be structured to enable student participation, and to ensure a variety of pedagogical methods are utilised in order to maintain student focus and engage a range of learning styles and abilities. The activities during the lecture or independent study will focus extensively on case studies and selected media and journal articles.

Cases are drawn from a variety of sources including key business newspapers, journal articles, reports (Government, think tank, union and business). The activities during the lecture are designed to help students to both develop and analyse case studies.

The exercises will consist of individual and group work based on set tasks to provide students with the opportunity to develop critical and practical problem skills.


The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course.
The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students.
Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   BE448 COURSEWORK ASSIGNMENT ONE    50% 
Coursework   BE448 ASSIGNMENT TWO    50% 
Exam  Reassessment Main exam: Remote, Open Book, 24hr during Summer (Main Period) 

Additional coursework information

Assessment for this module is comprised of two coursework essays. Both essays have a 2000 word limit, and are weighted equally.

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Nicholas Beuret, email:
Dr Nicholas Beuret & Dr Hamid Foroughi



External examiner

No external examiner information available for this module.
Available via Moodle
Of 20 hours, 20 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s), module, or event type.


Further information
Essex Business School

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