Business Ethics Outline

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Number of Aston Credits:10

Number of ECTS Credits:5

Staff Member Responsible for the Module:

Carole Parkes, Work & Organisational Psychology Group
South Wing, Room 8016, Extension 3195
Availability: see office hours
Or contact the Work and Organisational Psychology Group Administrator Mrs Jenny Thompson, SW 802, Extension 3257

Pre-requisites for the Module:


Mode of Attendance:

On Campus and Off Campus

Module Objectives and Learning Outcomes:

The Institute of Business Ethics defines business ethics as ‘the application of ethical values to business behaviour.’ As Aristotle recognised, ethics is not an ethereal abstraction but is a practical aid to business problem solving. This module takes ideas from a range of disciplines (including some of the greatest thinkers of all time) to help understand, analyse and resolve ethical dilemmas in management. There has been a growing interest in the ethics of business and what is generally referred to as CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) and Sustainability. Whilst these terms have a number of synonyms and a variety of different uses, they all relate to issues about society, the economy and the environment.


• To distinguish between ethics, morals, codes of conduct and the law. • To understand the ethical dilemmas facing managers.
• To explore models that supports ethical decision making and their limitations. • Be aware of different philosophies and their implications. • To study a series of cases focusing on contemporary issues. • Examine the evolution of governance and its practice.

• To understand corporate social responsibility and philanthropy. • To explore the concept of sustainability.
• To consider the role of business in relation to ethics, CSR & sustainability.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module students will be able to:

• Understand ethical components of managerial decision making • Develop thinking and analytical skills using ethical frameworks • Draw upon a range of models to aid ethical decision-making. • Apply their knowledge of ethics to some of the great international ethical debates • Apply the knowledge of ethics to everyday

• Be sensitive to the influence of culture on ethics.

Module Content:

Week 1Introduction. Why ethics? Why now? Why does it matter? Perspectives on ethics. Models, concepts and frameworks for decision making

Week 2Corporate Social Responsibility and Philanthropy – why bother?

Week 3What is the role of the law in regulating corporate behaviour?

Week 4Corporate Governance – How far have we come, how far have we to go? Corporate Social Responsibility - A personal view. Sir Adrian Cadbury

Week 5Sustainability. What do we mean by sustainability and what are the issues for business?

Week 6What are the issues for multinational operations in the global arena? Consumerism and cross cultural communications

Week 7How far does the rhetoric match up to the reality?
Workshop and case studies with business professionals.

Week 8Review of ethical issues/cases and the role of ethical codes.
Exploring issues through case studies and current events.

Week 9No lecture: Individual Assignment work

Week 10 Final Assignment Hand in

Corporate Connections:

The recent banking crisis and the collapse of economic markets have brought questions about the ethics and responsibilities of organisations sharply into focus The Birmingham Centre for Business Ethics is a registered charity and is run by an elected Council of Management drawn from business organisations in the West Midlands. Drawing members from the corporate world, its members use the opportunity to explore live cases based on their own experience with students during the module. Other outside speakers are also used to share their experience with students.

International Dimensions:

The foundation of ethics goes beyond...
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