PP3BESR-Business Ethics and Social Responsibility

Module Provider: Philosophy
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2020/1

Module Convenor: Dr Charlotte Newey

Email: c.newey@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

This module will introduce students to a variety of ethical challenges and considerations for professionals and corporate enterprises alike. We consider issues such as: the importance of ethics in the business environment, the grounds of professional ethics, moral reasoning in a business environment, whether doing well is compatible with doing good, and how to allocate social responsibility.


This module will introduce students to a variety of philosophical questions surrounding business ethics. We will explore topics such as causal responsibility and moral responsibility, asking how a corporate entity could be morally responsible. Issues of self-regulation raise interesting questions. How does a group of different corporate entities constitute a ‘self’ to be regulated? We will also explore some of the competing concerns in business ethics, such as the tensions between the affluent and the poor, or the environment and shareholders, profit and social responsibility. An appreciation of the complexity of these concerns and the different ways in which they interact, will be developed.


The emphasis is on developing independent learning, personal effectiveness and self-awareness as well as the ability to reflect effectively on your progress and strengths and on the goals you wish to achieve.

Assessable learning outcomes:

The programme of study in Philosophy is specifically designed to introduce students to progressive intellectual challenges and to consolidate previous experience at each new level. This third-year module enables students to develop mastery of the advanced skills of philosophy – particularly in written work and in oral discussion. This research-led module and improves students’ research skills - particularly the ability to discover and develop new material for themselves. The modul e improves personal effectiveness through developing these independent-learning skills.

Additional outcomes:

The module encourages students to explore and debate critical issues in business ethics from a moral, practical and, sometimes, political perspective. It builds on techniques learned at Parts 1 and 2 to develop students’ skills in oral and written argument. Students will be enhancing their skills to apply their knowledge to real world problems.

Outline content:

This module introduces students to core philosophical issues about business ethics, such as understanding value, conflicting interests, and issues of responsibility and justice. 

Global context:

Questions about global responsibility as well as questions about local responsibility will be discussed.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

The module is taught by lectures and seminars. Students are expected to attend 15 hours of class during the term in which the module takes place. All students are required to write a single essay from a list of questions supplied by the module convenor. Students are encouraged to be active in all classes, asking questions and trying to answer the questions posed by others. A reading list and sample questions will be given out at the start of the course.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 10
Seminars 5
Guided independent study: 85
Total hours by term 0 0
Total hours for module 100

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 100

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

One written assignment, due in week 11 of the term in which the module is taught.

Formative assessment methods:

Students will write a short précis of the topic for discussion for every seminar class. Some classes may involve quizzes, debates or presentations.

Penalties for late submission:

The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.
The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

Assessment requirements for a pass:

A mark of 40% overall.

Reassessment arrangements:

Written assignment, to be completed in August/September.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

Last updated: 4 April 2020


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