AF6030 - Sustainable Development and Responsible Business

What will I learn on this module?

This module aims to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of key literature, research and economic policy debates in the area of environmental sustainability and responsible business. The objective of the module is to provide students with appropriate tools and technical know-how to critically discuss the trade-offs between economic development and environmental protection and moving capitalism towards a
wider sense of accountability. The module will explore and examine the linkages between economic policies and environmental sustainability, the effects of international trade and globalisation on environmental resources, the role of international environmental agreements and the emergence of new forms of financial reporting centred on the principles of sustainability and social accountability.

Key topics covered in this module include:
• Fundamentals of Environmental Economics and Sustainable Development
• Economic Growth and Environmental Conflicts
• Measuring Sustainable Economic Welfare
• Contingent Valuation and Revealed Preference Methods
• Alternative Concepts of Capital: Environmental Accounting, Integrated Reporting, and the Triple Bottom Line
• International Trade and Environmental Protection
• Stakeholder Activism and Social Responsibility
• Political Ecology: Challenging Narratives of Environmental Degradation
• Financial Reporting and Climate Change.
• The Circular Economy
• The Role of Social and Solidarity Economies

How will I learn on this module?

You will be supported by a teaching and learning plan (TLP), which outlines the formal sessions, together with tutor-directed study and independent reading. The module will be taught through lectures (24 hours) and seminars (12 hours). You will be taught through a combination of interactive lectures, guest lectures by scholars and practitioners in the field of sustainability and accounting and seminars centered on case
studies and real-life situations. These lectures and seminar sessions will enable you to engage deeply with a number of alternative conceptual paradigms in the area of sustainability and their application in a real-world context.

The seminars will be based on the “project cycle” framework that is commonly used in sustainability studies. Key sustainable development problems will be introduced in the form of case studies that will be investigated in greater depth via means of individual reflection and group work.

Students will be stimulated to
1) discuss specific problems and issues within the environmental economics and accounting fields in detail;
2) consider specific strategies to help move from these problems to the solutions; and
3) evaluate among different tools of measuring progress towards these goals.

The emphasis will be increasing levels of students’ engagement in understanding theory, by analysing the real world in view of examining and evaluating solutions available within the literature. Independent learning will use both theory and application, focusing on the reflective practitioner approach to learning, comprising both knowledge and skills-based learning embedded in delivery sessions. Moreover, independent learning will encourage students to identify and pursue areas of interest in relation to sustainability analysis in view of achieving a deeper knowledge and understanding of the subject through a range of learning activities including reading, reflection, research and group work. In addition, the module will involve directed learning centred upon a range of activities including pre-reading, preparation for
interactive activities, and use of the discussion board to learn and share knowledge. Critical reflection on knowledge, experience and practice underpins the learning and teaching philosophy that you will be exposed to along with the explicit development of competence.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

The module is supported by the e-learning portal, which includes the Teaching and Learning Plan, lecture materials, seminar tasks, detailed guidance on the assessment, as well as additional material for independent study. The module tutor will ensure that all relevant materials and instructions are readily accessible to you. All lectures will be recorded and uploaded to the e-learning portal which you will be able to access to consolidate your knowledge and develop understanding. An electronic reading list includes core material to support your lectures/seminars and a comprehensive range of academic journal articles relevant to your studies. In addition to the lectures and seminars, the teaching team will maintain dedicated office hours where you can drop in and ask any questions pertaining to the module.

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:
• Critically apply knowledge and understanding of major theories and debates on sustainable development,
their scope as well as limitations (MLO1).

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
• To develop creative and critical thinking skills that involve independence, understanding, justification and the ability to challenge the thinking of self and others. (MLO2).

Personal Values Attributes:
• Develop communication and team building skills in making oral presentations coherently and with
evidence; report writing skills in presenting arguments in a logical manner, backed by appropriate
research (MLO3).

How will I be assessed?

Formative Assessment
Formative assessment will be provided to you through a range of seminar activities which will enable you to prepare for the summative assessment during, and at the end of the module. This will encourage your active
participation in the learning process throughout the semester. The e-Learning portal will be used to permanently host these tasks after release to ensure that you can access the information required at all times.

Summative Assessment
The module is assessed by:
• A group presentation of 15 minutes focusing on a case study of a relevant sustainability. These group presentations will be carried out in Week 10 of the semester (25%) (MLO2, MLO3).
• An inquiry based assignment where in students will carry out independentr research on given topics and complete a report of 3000 words (75%) (MLO1 and MLO3).





Module abstract

Climate change, degraded natural resources and the distribution of power and resources are some of the most profound challenges facing the global economy today. This module will introduce you to the key concepts and literature around these topics to investigate the relationship between economic growth and environmental protection. Adopting a multidisciplinary focus, it draws on key debates in political ecology, environmental economics and natural resource management. You’ll learn through a combination of traditional lectures with case study-based seminars in which you’ll focus on sustainability-related topics on a weekly basis. This will equip you to critically engage with contemporary issues involving economic sustainability across a range of socio-environmental contexts.

Course info

UCAS Code N395

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years Full Time 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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