AF3003 - Ethics and Social Responsibility

What will I learn on this module?

This module aims to develop your curiosity and interest of ethical decision making in business, and to help you understand what ethics means from both an individual and organisational perspective. The module will enable you to develop an awareness of ethical dilemmas in business and challenge you to discuss and debate ethical decision-making as a future employer or employee.

The module further engages you in collecting, reading and reflecting on past business news, events and case studies where ethical dilemmas have been prominent, and will encourage you to use the knowledge you will gain from interactive lectures to contribute to wider discussion and critical debate about ethical issues in business. In particular, this module will support you in developing a strong commercial awareness around ethics in business today, and leave you with the skills needed to foster good ethical understanding needed throughout your degree and future.

At the end of the module, students will also be able to understand and critically discuss the concepts and topics of corporate social responsibility, as well as business’ responsibility towards sustainability and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

How will I learn on this module?

The module is taught through a combination of interactive lectures and seminars based around case studies to deepen the understanding of ethics and sustainability issues in a real world context.

The module has a one-hour weekly lecture, in which you will be introduced to the context of business ethics, ethical dilemmas, ethical decision-making and social responsibility. Before and after the lecture you will be given reading on a teaching and learning plan, which you will be able to access through an online reading list on the module’s Blackboard site and through the Library website. There will also be multimedia support available through the teaching and learning plan, where you will be directed to access a range of videos and case studies.

There will be a two-hour seminar per week which will be facilitated by group tasks, team working, communication and interpersonal skills which will allow you to reflect on your learning. The seminars will draw heavily on yours and your peers’ discussions and debates of case studies, stories and events, which have prominent ethical and social responsibility issues within. You will be asked to prepare work prior to the seminar, which will be directed in the teaching and learning plan and found through the modules Blackboard site. You will also be encouraged by your tutor to use research skills developed in other modules to consider additional material, such as relevant news articles from, BBC news, the Guardian and specific company websites, and bring them to seminars for further discussion.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

The directed activities you undertake on the module are designed to ensure that you and the lecturing staff are the co-creators of knowledge. They will encourage you to create an active and self-directed learning experience, which will allow you to take responsibility for your own learning, whilst still having a high level of support. Support will be provided to you by the member of academic staff leading the module and providing the lectures and seminars. You will also have the support of the programme leader and support staff at the University.

Your module is supported by an e-learning portal (Blackboard), which houses the teaching and learning plan, lecture materials and recordings, workshop and seminar exercises, assessment information, period tests and details of additional resources such as online recordings and videos. You will also be able to access key parts of lectures which will be recorded on Panopto throughout the module.

The modules online reading list can be reached through the Blackboard site. This list provides you with a comprehensive list of links from which to access all of the modules eBooks, news resources, and directed learning academic articles. The module’s Blackboard site also has a discussion board, where the module tutor and lecturers will post important information about the module throughout the semester.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at:
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team –

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:

• To understand the concepts of business ethics, social responsibility and sustainability and hence, display a developing ability to analyse business problems and come to reasonable resolutions given a scenario [MLO1]

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:

• To display developing reflection skills through exploring business practice and real world business decisions.[MLO2]

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):

• To consider personal and business ethical dimensions and social responsibilities when making decisions and understand their impact on stakeholders.[MLO3]

How will I be assessed?

Formative assessment:

You will receive weekly formative feedback during the seminars on each of the topics covered.

Summative assessment:

You will be assessed via a group presentation on a contemporary issue within ethics and social responsibility during the semester. This assessment is worth 30% of the module. [MLO2, MLO3]

You will further be assessed through completion of an individual essay of 1500 words that requires research and discussion of the topics covered throughout the semester and, will be worth 70% of the module. [MLO1, MLO2]





Module abstract

As a future employee or manager, having the ability to recognise and make sound judgements on complex business ethics and social issues is of significant importance. In recent years, highly publicised corporate ethical scandals have led to calls from the public for companies to be more socially responsible and act in a transparent and ethical manner. In light of this, the module will enable you as a future employee or manager to understand and be aware of the importance of ethics and social responsibility in business, as well as encouraging you to consider the challenges you may face when ethical dilemmas arise. This will further enable you to make good ethical decisions for the success of the business, and for the good of all stakeholders.

Ethics and social responsibility in business will also give you the foundation needed to foster a curiosity and understanding around important issues faced by businesses today.

Course info

UCAS Code N775

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 1 year full-time followed by a further 3 years full-time study or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Newcastle Business School

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024 or September 2025

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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