module specification

LT5078 - Sustainability, Business and Responsibility (2020/21)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2020/21
Module title Sustainability, Business and Responsibility
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 15
School Guildhall School of Business and Law
Total study hours 150
42 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
54 hours Guided independent study
54 hours Assessment Preparation / Delivery
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 40%   Individual portfolio (blog) (2000 words)
Coursework 60%   Individual case study report (2500 words)
Running in 2020/21
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Autumn semester North Monday Morning

Module summary

‘Sustainability, Business and Responsibility’ module addresses the critical issue of how current thinking on sustainability will impact on businesses and organisation. The need to create more sustainable organisations and businesses is fundamental to current and future organisational development strategies, and it is necessary for students to understand the growing influence of the sustainability agenda on industry. This influence takes on many forms, from government policies and international agreements to the measuring the impacts of organisational practices on the ecology and communities.
It is unavoidable that in the future, organisations, businesses, communities and individuals will be expected to understand and take responsibility for their economic, environmental and social impacts. This module henceforth will examine the current and future challenges and it will equip students with knowledge to deal with the challenge of creating sustainable forms of business that operate within ecological and socio-economic limits. It will explore the sustainability context, and how business practices will need to evolve to reflect the realities of operating within a globalised trading system that is striving to apply sustainability principles.
The overarching aim of the module is to ensure that students develop a full understanding of what is meant by sustainability, who decides, what constitutes sustainability principles and how these principles are applied. It will explore varied tools and techniques used to apply sustainability principles, by governments, business and communities, and the challenges and conflicts these present. Such appreciation will be developed progressively via more specific aims which are:
• To engage with the growing international debate and practice around sustainability, business and corporate social responsibility (CSR);
• To evaluate how this will challenge organisations and businesses;
• To examine tools and techniques for evaluating and implementing of sustainability;
• To analyse the evolving policy frameworks within which business operates;
• To understand how changing environmental realities may affect business practice.
The module also aims to assist students in the acquisition of the academic skills such as academic reading, researching, problem-solving and decision making, critical thinking and writing and finally application of knowledge and presenting data.


The syllabus for the module covers wide range of sustainability-related concepts and commences by defining and providing history of the development of the “sustainability” concept. The concept of globalisation understood via the model of “our shrinking world” will be used to explain changes in operating within a worldwide trading system, while the mechanism and threat of the climate change will be discussed in the light of the responsibility for the future. LO1

More operational approach to sustainability will be adopted in the second part of the module, when focus will be put on design of the principles and criteria for sustainability and roles of bodies who decide on the criteria choice. Next, the process, challenges and realities of measuring sustainability will be deliberated to move on to the role of governments and international policy frameworks. Special focus will be placed on the concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and observed industry response to the sustainability challenge. LO2

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

The module will be delivered through a weekly series of 1.5-hour lectures and 1.5-hour seminars with lectures delivering information and presenting academic problems appropriate to the topic under consideration. Teaching has a blended learning approach where the full use is made of online opportunities including web-based multiplayer simulation games. Seminars will provide students with opportunities for discussion and activities in small groups and at whole class level, presentations, short writing exercises and reflection.
Learning materials and opportunities will be made available on Weblearn, which will also be an important means of communication between students themselves, and between students and tutors, especially via a blog maintained by each student. Students will be expected to spend approximately 7 hours per week reading and reflecting upon the work covered so far through the module. The progress will be facilitated by the maintenance of the weekly blog, where students will not only consider their own responses but also read those of their peers in the seminar.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:
1. Recognise and analyse the complex process of developing sustainable business and organisational systems
2. Apply analytical tools in order to assess and evaluate the extent to which businesses have achieved sustainability in wide ranging contexts and inter-related economic, socio-cultural and environmental parameters

Assessment strategy

Module assessment comprises of two components.
In the individual portfolio written in the form of the blog, student’s ability to absorb and articulate key discussions within sustainability is tested. Students are required to set up an online (Weblearn blog) and write reflectively on the topics addressed in the course in the weekly pattern.
Individual case study (2500 word) requires students to analyse and evaluate the responsible business strategies of an appropriate organisation and an extent to which businesses have achieved sustainability. The type of the organisation shall reflect the focus of their undergraduate studies and their subject-specific industries.
Assessment tariff alignment: L5 (15 credits) max. 5000 words
1. Portfolio (blog) (2000 words)
2. An individual case study report (2500 words)

Total word count: 4500 words


Core Texts:
• Aluchna, M., Idowu, S. O. (2017) The Dynamics of Corporate Social Responsibility: A Critical Approach to Theory and Practice, Springer, London.
• Korton, D. (2007) The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community, 2nd ed, Berrett Koehle Publishers, New York.
• Meadows, D. (2008) Thinking in Systems, Chelsea Green Publishing, Vermont.
• Robertson, M. (2016) Sustainability: Principles and Practice, Earthscan. London.
• Roorda, N. (2017) Fundamentals of Sustainable Development, Routledge. London.
• United Nations (1987) Our Common Future - Brundtland Report, Oxford University Press; available at:
• Young. O.R et al. (2014) Earth System Challenges and a Multi-Layered Approach for the Sustainable Development Goals. POST2015/UNU-IAS Policy Brief #1, United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability. Tokyo.