AT7055 - Ethics in Business

What will I learn on this module?

After undertaking this module you will be able to identify the normative presuppositions involved in ethical dialogue and use this in your analysis of ethical issues. This will enable you to better understand conflicts over such issues as executive pay, prompt payment, workplace rights, privacy, positive discrimination and many others. When developing organisation policy, representing the organisation in the media, negotiating agreements and otherwise undertaking work with an ethical dimension, this will enable you to anticipate and plan for objections, to identify weaknesses and contradictions in your interlocutors arguments and your own and thereby enable you to better manage ethical conflict at work. Through this process you will also improve your internal ethical dialogue. Clarifying your own normative presuppositions, values and virtues and better understanding their implications and exclusions will enable you to reflect upon the coherence of your own moral agency.

How will I learn on this module?

This module will require serious thinking and serious talking in a research rich intellectual environment. Lectures on key topics will supplement weekly required readings and their subject matter will be put to use in seminars through debate, role-play, facilitated discussion and simulations making extensive use of online resources. We will make particular use of dramatic narratives that have focussed attention on ethical issues in the workplace by considering plays, novels and films that exemplify conceptual and theoretical material.

The module design is informed by an understanding of ethical education as being developmental; it is not a pick and mix, hence the order in which material is presented is important for your learning. The module is structured in three distinct themes, the second and subsequent of which draw from and builds upon earlier material. Because of this, attendance is absolutely critical to the achievement of your learning outcomes. The summative assessment is a 2500 word assignment on a workplace ethical issue. You will use the structural, conceptual and theoretical material considered during the module in doing this and the assignment thereby provides a significant opportunity for enhancing your learning.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Your learning is supported by a Teaching and Learning Plan that includes directed learning and outlines the content of weekly lectures and seminars. All readings and other supporting materials are provided through the Blackboard E-Learning portal and tutors will engage with you through the discussion board in addition to weekly lectures and seminars. Your independent learning should combine deeper and broader reading in areas of particular relevance to the subject of your assignment. The weekly readings will be supplemented by guidance on further reading to facilitate this.

Lectures will be recorded to enable you to revisit earlier material in light of the wider appreciation you will have developed later on and these are supplemented by short podcasts on the key concepts and theories we will be considering. The Blackboard E-Learning Portal will store all materials needed for lectures, seminars, directed learning and independent study.

Seminars will not be recorded to protect privacy and to enable ‘Chatham House rules’ discussion. Tutors will provide ongoing formative feedback in seminars, especially in relation to your understanding of conceptual and theoretical material. Seminars will require you to engage in ethical debate which may become animated and expose significant differences in ethical commitments between participants. The role of the tutor in this context is to encourage understanding of both the presuppositions that inform such disputes and empirical evidence relevant to them. Tutors will not enter the disputes or encourage any particular view.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at:
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team –

What will I be expected to achieve?


How will I be assessed?

Formative assessment will occur within the context of seminars in a dialogical form i.e. tutors will question students’ theses, arguments, use of evidence, presuppositions and interpretations in order to test their coherence and boundaries. This ongoing Socratic dialogue will train students in ethical reasoning in the context of business alongside their emerging understanding of ethical stances, theories and concepts.

Summative assessment provides an opportunity for students to demonstrate their learning in a context of their choice. A 2500 word assignment will students to identify and explain an ethical issue for business which requires a response (from an individual manager, the business itself, the sector, government) and for which different options are available. The issue may be current or from the recent past (not more than 5 years) and information must be in the public domain. Students will outline realistic alternative options for addressing the issue, provide a rationale for each option identifying the ethical presuppositions that inform them and justify their preferred option using ethical theory.





Module abstract

Ethical judgments pervade business - whether praise for philanthropy, condemnation of environmental impact or debate about diversity. This module focuses on the underlying structures of such ethical dialogue – it enables us to better understand: ‘What is right and wrong in the context of business?’ By learning to identify and anticipate presuppositions, theses, arguments, use of evidence and interpretations involved in ethical dialogue you will be better able to participate in it. You will also be better able to analyse the coherence of your own moral and organisational commitments. The module is research rich in its use of classic approaches to ethics in the context of contemporary debates and is supported by a comprehensive electronic learning platform. It has been designed by a world top 50 university for business ethics and your participation will enhance your ability to engage in policy level debate and hence your employability.

Course info

Credits 10

Level of Study Postgraduate

Mode of Study 18 months Full-Time

Department Newcastle Business School

Location Netherlands

City Amsterdam

Start September 2024

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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