This unit (BMO5501) critically reviews the socio-cultural environment in which business operates. Ethical frameworks for decision making will be critiqued and students will construct the debates surrounding contemporary corporate responsibility and sustainable development as they impact on organisations in their local and global contexts. Emphasis will be on how new pressures on businesses arise, and how effective the various models that structure organisational responses are to these dynamic and emergent challenges. Students will understand the importance of various United Nations Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs) relating to governance, operations and culture through evidence-based research, case analysis, and evaluation, in understanding the importance of the SDGs.

Unit details

Study level:
Credit points:
Unit code:

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:
  1. Discriminate between key philosophical approaches to ethics, legal requirements, and a contention between moral and ethical decision making;  
  2. Advocate a position on the ethical issues associated with narrow and broad approaches to doing business;  
  3. Exemplify judgement in assessing alternative perspectives of corporate responsibility in the context of contemporary business issues;  
  4. Evaluate the sustainability agenda and justify assessment of the implications for business;  
  5. Evaluate and debate the role of social movements and institutional changes that promote business model innovation; and  
  6. Communicate analysis to audiences demonstrating a high level of personal autonomy and accountability.  


Melbourne campuses

Students studying under the VU Block Model.

Assessment type Description Grade
Assignment Annotated Bibliography (Individual) to inform a Group Case Report (Group), and Reflective Journal submissions (Individual) 30%
Case Study A selected company evaluation on ethics and sustainability in achieving competitive advantage (Individual) 30%
Project Group project report & presentation (Group) 40%

Other locations

Assessment type Description Grade
Journal Assessing ethical responsibilities of an organisation 10%
Assignment Critical analysis of ethical imperatives within a select organisation 40%
Case Study Examination of ethics and sustainability at Patagonia 50%

Where to next?

As part of a course

This unit is studied as part of the following courses. Refer to the course page for information on how to apply for the course.

VU takes care to ensure the accuracy of this unit information, but reserves the right to change or withdraw courses offered at any time. Please check that unit information is current with the Student Contact Centre.