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Course Description
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Corporate Social Responsibility
University of Westminster
London, England

Subject Area(s) Level(s) Instruction in Credits Contact Hours Prerequisites
Business 200 English 4 50 N/A

Module Code: 2GEN492

Summary of Module Content


This module explores the social, political and legal contexts in which business organisations operate.


Module Aims


The module aims to:


  • enable students to explore the social, political and legal contexts in which business organisations operate


  • examine the business organisation as a system of interests, control, conflict and power


  • introduce students to concepts of corporate social responsibility.


Learning Outcomes


On completion of this module, the successful student should be able to:


  1. distinguish varying forms of business organisation and analyse corporate managerial cultures.


  1. identify stakeholder groups, and make a critical analysis of the relationships between businesses and broader communities.


  1. evaluate developing concepts of corporate social responsibility.


  1. examine the practical implications of social responsibility for business in national, regional and global contexts.

Indicative Syllabus Content


Underlying themes - Interests, power, control and conflict.


The module will examine the meaning of markets, cartels and monopolies and other forms of market organisation. The varying forms of business organisation will be examined such as partnership, sole trader and PLC. This will include issues concerning shareholder control of corporations and the identification of stakeholders.


The corporation will also be explores through paradigms of corporate culture, and these will be considered in relation to their wider social impact, e.g. Ritzers McDonaldisation thesis.


The relationship between the state and markets and various interest groups will be examined, This will include an appraisal of will competition policy .


The role of government and the process of governing in relation to business will be assessed. This will include issues of regulation, in national, regional and global contexts.


Concepts of corporate social responsibility will be examined, and the policies of organisations such as the European Union in promoting and developing these concepts will be evaluated.


The process of globalisation will be analysed, and issues of social responsibility, such as sustainable development,   will be evaluated in the context of global corporate activity.


Teaching and Learning Methods


Much of the module will be taught through careful critical examination of contemporary case studies - for example, global issues surrounding the pharmaceutical industry and the provision of drugs in third world countries, issues of regulation and control of GM crops, relations between business and government in the railway industry. Formal lectures will be used, plus seminars and workshop sessions where students will engage in case-study work.


Assessment Rationale


Assessment is based on a 50% in-module assignment and a 50% end-of-module case study. The in-module element is designed to develop student’s skills of analysis and evaluation, and to ensure that they have feedback on their progress. The end- of module case study is designed both to further test these skills, and to enable students to achieve synthesis through an investigation of live issues.


Assessment Criteria


Students will be expected to:


Identify relevant issues and define concepts

Analyse developments in Corporate Social Responsibility

Evaluate arguments and state their own position.


Assessment Methods and Weighting


There will be two assessments


1.         An in-module  assignment                                 50%

2.         An end-of module case study analysis   50%


The pass mark for this module is 40%.  A minimum mark of 35% in each component of the assessment (in-module and end-of-module) is required.




Essential Reading


Zadek S, (2001) The Civil Corporation: the New Economy


Further Reading


Fredericks R, et al (1991), Business and Society: Corporate Strategy, Public Policy and Ethics, McGraw Hill.


Hopkins M, (2003) The Planetary Bargain: Corporate Responsibility, Earthscape.


Richter J & Barton J, (2001) Holding Corporations Accountable, Zed Books.





Business and Society

British Journal of Sociology

The Economist

Relevant e-journals available from the library.


Some relevant websites




Date of initial validation:    May 2003.

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