Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility

The details
Essex Business School
Colchester Campus
Postgraduate: Level 7
Monday 15 January 2024
Friday 22 March 2024
06 December 2023


Requisites for this module



Key module for

MSC N21712 Organisational Change Management,
MSC N21724 Organisational Change Management,
MPHDN20048 Management,
PHD N20048 Management

Module description

The emergent field of Business Ethics and the associated fields of Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability offer a variety of approaches to the ethical examination of management practices in the corporate sector and in civil society (or "third sector") organisations.

The objective of this module is to equip students with an understanding of key issues and debates around corporate ethics and responsibility, and the role of the corporate sector in global governance and ecological sustainability.

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To provide an understanding of business and management as a complex and contested ethical terrain.

  • To develop students’ appreciation of ethical reflexivity and agency and awareness of potential inhibitors to their expression in an organised context.

  • To provide an understanding of the historical context for the rise of concerns about sustainability, ethics and corporate social responsibility and how shifting public expectations of corporations’ influence brand value and social license to operate in today’s business climate.

  • To develop a critical understanding of a variety of contemporary business practices related to corporate social and ecological responsibility, including triple bottom line approaches, stakeholder management, supply chain management, green and ethical marketing and other corporate communication approaches.

Module learning outcomes

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

  1. Understand a range of contemporary corporate social responsibility and sustainability practices, and the ethical factors involved in efforts to enhance accountability in business.

  2. Develop greater sensitivity and awareness of the implied and explicit ethical assumptions and beliefs in their own and others’ argumentation.

  3. Critically analyse management and business practices in the fields of Business Ethics, Corporate Social responsibility and Sustainability using appropriate concepts and theory.

Skills for Your Professional Life (Transferable Skills)

  1. Communication, written and verbal, developed through small group work, oral/visual presentation to the class, and written assessments.

  2. Critical thinking about organisational challenges in historical context. Understanding of macroeconomic context of shifting organisational fields and how they affect managerial challenges within organisations. Ability to assess normative aspects of the business environment, at both the macro-institutional and micro (interpersonal) level.

Module information

We will explore how and why discourses about corporate social responsibility and sustainability have been gaining in importance in the business world and society at large in recent years, and we will examine new governance institutions in which corporate actors are constructing multi-sectoral regulatory regimes to promote human rights, development and sustainability.

The module is inter-disciplinary in nature, taking into account that issues of ethics and sustainability have been discussed in a variety of academic disciplines as well as policy and managerial fields for a long time. This module will introduce a range of theories to understand the relationship between management and corporations on the one hand, and society and nature on the other. The module will be very interactive, and students are expected to engage with the topics discussed in a critical, theoretical and comparative manner.

Learning and teaching methods

This module will be delivered via:

  • One 2-hour lecture and one 1-hour seminar per week.


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   Group Presentation     25% 
Coursework   2,500 words individual essay    75% 

Additional coursework information

The coursework comprises:

  • 1x group presentation (25%)
  • 1x 2,500 word individual essay (75%)

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
Ms Sandra Moog, email:
Ms Sandra Moog & Mr Dave Watson



External examiner

Dr Claire Paterson-Young
University of Northampton
Research Leader
Available via Moodle
Of 30 hours, 30 (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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