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The University of Southampton

MANG6091 Business Ethics

Module Overview

This module gives an overview of moral philosophy and shows how such ethical theories apply in a business context. Common ethical issues are discussed with reference to their causes and consequences. Examples of both ethical and unethical business practice are given, and techniques and skills related to ethical management are provided. Cross-cultural issues are discussed as well as debates relating to moral relativism versus moral absolutism.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • how to be familiar with the main ethical concepts and distinctions;
  • how to understand the rational basis underlying moral theory;
  • how expectations of business have changed over the years, and the influence of stakeholder theory;
  • both short and long term consequences of ethical and unethical behaviour through case studies;
  • the factors that affect the ethical behaviour of organisations;
  • how to learn a method of analysis that will enable them to determine what is the ‘right’ course of action, and justify and present their reasons and conclusions to others in a systematic, objective way.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • identify moral dilemmas, i.e. to be aware of, to not let routine or habits or rules conceal, moral dilemmas and moral challenges;
  • analyse, i.e. to get some tools to deal with the moral dilemmas and problems by thinking through the economic, legal and ethical parameters of a managerial decision in a logical, structured way;
  • achieve ethical confidence through practice in applying a logical and structured form of ethical analysis to complex business issues.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • your written communication skills;
  • your learning and research skills;
  • skills in presenting your conclusions to others;
  • analytical skills.


Week 1 Lecture 1: Introduction to Ethics: Is business ethics an oxymoron? Do we need ethics if we have the law? What is expected of business? Is it in business’s interests to be ethical? This session introduces students to the theory of the firm, stockholder and stakeholder theory. In this session we will engage in a number of group exercises such as seeing how the ‘prisoners dilemma’ works in practice, and applying the principles of game theory in practice. This session includes a film on Corporate Social Responsibility followed by a talk by the Film’s presenter Leo Martin, who advises and reports on firms ethical behaviour and corporate responsibility. Week 2 Lecture 2: How to make ethical decisions and justify them. In this session students are introduced to some of the main ethical thinkers that have informed this field, and will gain practice in dealing with ethical issues and applying a method of ethical analysis. This session will involve a number of group activities where students will debate the ethical issues involved in a number of case studies and scenarios using what has been learned from the ethical thinkers. The skills learned from this form of ethical analysis will then be practiced by applying them to real-life business scenarios. Week 3 Lecture 3: How a company integrates core values, such as honesty, trust, respect, and fairness into its policies, practices, and decision making. Drawing on several real-life case studies, this session discusses the kinds of factors that affect the ethical behaviour of organisations. Examples of unethical decisions are presented along with their consequences. Also positive examples of ethical behaviour are presented. In groups, students are invited to discuss what they would do in specific situations. Students are introduced to several ways in which ethical behaviour can be embedded into an organisation. At the end students take part in a fun prize quiz to determine who is the most ethical.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include: • Weekly lectures • Other group activities and presentations Learning activities include: As above, with the addition of private reading of journal articles, web-pages and books.

Independent Study63
Total study time75

Resources & Reading list

Crane, A. and D. Matten (2004). Business Ethics. 

Hosmer, L. T. (2006). The Ethics of Management. 



In-class formative opportunities


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (2 hours) 70%
Group presentation  (15 minutes) 30%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (2 hours) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (2 hours) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:


Recommended texts for this module may be available in limited supply in the University Library and students may wish to purchase the mandatory/additional reading text as appropriate.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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