COMM5709 Corporate Responsibility and Accountability - 2023

Subject Code
Study Level
Commencing Term
Term 1
Total Units of Credit (UOC)
Delivery Mode
Online, Online
UNSW Business School
The course outline is not available for current term. To view outlines from other year and/or terms visit the archives

1. Course Details

Summary of Course

COMM5709 Corporate Responsibility and Accountability is an elective course in the Graduate Certificate in Social Impact and the MBAX (Social Impact) programs. The course examines key concepts and frameworks relating to corporate responsibility and accountability. Primary topic areas include: the theoretical foundation of corporate responsibility and accountability, stakeholder theory, measurement tools and frameworks to identify and measure ESG risks, performance reporting and assurance as well as strategy and governance.

The course addresses current issues related to acting responsibly in the market and maintaining relationships with key stakeholders by upholding values of transparency and accountability. It explores how business accounts for its behaviour and impact on society through management systems and performance reporting. The course also considers the development of the Sustainable Development Goals, the Global Reporting Initiative's Sustainability Reporting Guidelines, ISO 26000 Corporate Social Responsibility guidance, and Integrated Reporting from the International Integrated Reporting Council. Finally, the course examines practical examples of corporations demonstrating corporate responsibility and sustainable business models.


Teaching Times and Locations

Please note that teaching times and locations are subject to change. Students are strongly advised to refer to the Class Timetable website for the most up-to-date teaching times and locations.

The course is run over from 13 February until 5 May 2023.

Course delivery occurs asynchronously over 10-weeks of online e-Learning platform (Moodle). Readings, learning activities and assessments are accessible in Moodle and students are expected to log in on a regular basis. Students are expected to participate in the online discussion forums and engage with peers and the facilitator throughout the course. A few online meetings/webinars will be scheduled through the course to discuss assignments and provide support. Online learning can be very collaborative and rewarding and offer you considerable flexibility, so you can effectively manage work and study.

Students are advised to familiarise themselves with the COMM5709 online Moodle site during '0 week', the week beginning 6 February 2023, during which time you are also invited to engage in a few introductory activities.

View course timetable

Course Policies & Support

Course Aims and Relationship to Other Courses

COMM5709 Corporate Responsibility and Accountability aims to:

  • develop your understanding of key concepts and frameworks of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and accountability.
  • examine how business manages its social, environment and economic impact on society.
  • explore business ethics, corporate citizenship, sustainability, strategy and governance to give you a solid understanding of why social and environmental sustainability is central to corporate management and strategy


Additional Course Details

Links to all required and optional resources are on the reading list for your course in the UNSW Library's Leganto system, which you can access via your Moodle course. Please note you will need to login and may be required to enter your UNSW zID and zPass in order to access the library site.

Required readings consist of core texts and their applications. Readings are chosen to provide both theoretical foundation and to illuminate their meaning and usage in professional contexts. The readings are not to be studied in detail but designed to initiate thinking and understanding of key themes in social systems and change.

3. Staff Contact Details

Position Name Email Location Phone Consultation Times
Course AuthoritySandeep KirpalaniCentre for Social Impact, Level 7 Science Engineering Building (E8), UNSW Kensington
by appointment only

Course Authority - Sandeep Kirpalani

Sandeep deeply cares about long-term capacity building of socially driven organisations that often do not have easy access to commercial skills. He thrives on engaging in the juxtaposition of purpose and profit set in complex contexts. These, combined with a commitment to the experiential learning of students, are behind the design and delivery of his courses.

Sandeep is a Chartered Accountant and along with his consulting life at EY, was part of founding the firm's CSR education initiative in India, which today has scaled impact-fully across the country.

Since then, Sandeep has worked on national skills development initiatives and with charities and grassroots-level social enterprises in India, Timor-Leste and Australia.

In Sydney, Sandeep is on the Boards of Sydney Alliance and Sydney Community Forum, both of which are dedicated to making Sydney a better place to live for all.

Sandeep graduated with a Masters in Development Studies from the University of Melbourne in 2014. He is an exponent of mindfulness, humour and forgiveness in the wild world of social justice!

Consultation times - by appointment
Centre for Social Impact, 704, Level 7 Science Engineering Building (E8) (SEB)
Centre for Social Impact Student Administration
Please direct any CSI education program, enrolment and administration queries here:
Centre for Social Impact Student Team
Phone No: (02) 8936 0990

4. Learning and Teaching Activities

Approach to Learning and Teaching in the Course

Course delivery occurs asynchronously over the 12-week session through the online e-Learning platform Moodle. However, we will have 3 webinars over the term (dates will be confirmed on Moodle at the start of the term), so you get the chance to meet your facilitator and other students and also have the opportunity to seek clarifications on the course material and assessments. You are encouraged to develop an inquiry-based approach to your learning with your Course Authority guiding your learning. The online units will set the scene, framework and context for the topics that are examined in more detail in class.

Learning Activities and Teaching Strategies

In order to maximise the collaborative and experiential nature of this course a collaborative learning and teaching approach will be used that will help to support deeper student engagement and outcomes. The "collaborative" approach means you do reading and researching independently and use discussion forums for active and interactive learning. Each Unit (topic) will include a range of activities that you will complete. You have three major resources to help you learn:

  1. The course materials, comprising readings, references, insights and commentary for each Unit. You will do much of your learning independently by working through the course materials and by completing the learning activities.

  2. Your discussions are conducted on the online Moodle site each week. Your facilitator's role is to guide your learning by conducting class discussions, answering questions that might arise after you have done the week's work, providing insights from practical experience and understanding of theory, providing you with feedback on your Assessments, and directing discussions that will occur between you and your co-participants.

  3. Your co-participants are an invaluable source of rich learning content for you. Their work and life, and their willingness to question and debate the course materials, your views and those of the facilitator, represent a great learning opportunity. They bring much valuable insight to the learning.

Course Structure

Week 0: Course Introduction & Orientation

The orientation material will introduce 'corporate social responsibility' and 'accountability' and help you get a head start to COMM5709. The material also provides an opportunity to familiarise yourself with the course structure, including the learning, teaching and support strategies, before your assessed participation begins in Week 1.

Unit 1: Corporate responsibility: History and Key Concepts

This Unit explores the origins of corporate responsibility and phases in its development. It examines stakeholder theory and its tension with shareholder theory, and introduces related concepts such as sustainability, corporate citizenship and the recent development of the sustainable development goals.

Unit 2: Business Models for Sustainability

This Unit brings together the concepts and theories from Unit 1 by looking at a model (with ethics at its foundation) that summarises the evolution of corporate sustainability. This model also aligns well with the topics that will be explored in subsequent units. The Unit then explores some applied business models such as the industrial ecology discipline, natural capitalism, cradle to cradle design and the Natural Step model of sustainability.

Unit 3: The Drivers and Business Case for Corporate Responsibility

This Unit examines some of the key drivers behind the growing practice of corporate responsibility, particularly over the past two decades and its relationship with corporate strategy.

Unit 4: Accountability and Reporting Performance and Assurance

This Unit examines corporate responsibility and sustainability reporting and assurance. We'll look at the structure of sustainability reporting, key concepts and examine leading reporting frameworks such as the Global Reporting Initiative's G4 Sustainability Reporting Guidelines, ISO 26000 Corporate Social Responsibility guidance, London Benchmarking Group Framework, the UN Global Compact Reporting Principles and Integrated Reporting from the International Integrated Reporting Council.

Unit 5: Environment, Natural Resources and Ecosystem Services

This Unit explores the concept of sustainable development and the triple bottom line and the role of business in relation to natural resource management (e.g. energy, waste, water and consumption of other natural resources) and wider societal implications (e.g. climate change and changes in ecosystem services).

Unit 6: Corporate Community Involvement and Social capital

This Unit focuses on the social dimension of corporate responsibility and sustainability, and how businesses intentionally interact with not-for-profits organizations and other stakeholders at the community level. Human rights as they relate to business and labour relations are also considered as well as developments relating to modern slavery legislation in Australia.

Unit 7: Supply Chain Management, Traceability and Transparency

This Unit examines supply chain continual improvement, traceability and supply-chain auditing. The role of voluntary certification schemes are explored, business receptivity to them, along with business- supplier collaboration.

Unit 8: Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) and the Investment Community

This Unit explores the new analytical field of ESG risk appraisal as a way to examine how companies are managing and reporting risk, along with indices and measurement frameworks. This Unit also examines the influence of the investment community in corporate responsibility and recent initiatives such as the divestment movement.

Unit 9: Governance and the Board

In this Unit we consider the principles of good corporate governance in the context of corporate responsibility and accountability, along with business ethics and the role of the board versus management.

Unit 10: Corporate Political Activity, Technology and Citizens

This Unit will explore the role of corporate political activity in relation to corporate responsibility and examines recent examples. It looks at the role of technology such as social media and artificial intelligence and considers how corporate responsibility applies, and also looks at the role of citizens in affecting change.

Course Conclusion: The way forward: Future & current trends

The final Unit of this course considers what the path forward for Corporate Responsibility and Accountability and looks at the ability of organizations to transform and evolve. It also looks at current approaches and examples of how business leaders approach to business is changing.

6. Course Resources

The University and the Business School provide a wide range of support services for students, including:

Centre for Social Impact (CSI) 

Please direct any CSI education program, enrolment and administration queries here:

Email: ; Phone: (02) 8936 0990

Business Student Centre 

The Nucleus: Student Hub, Level 2, in the Main Library. (UNSW map location F21)

Phone: (02) 8936 7005

Moodle eLearning Support

For online help using Moodle, go to:

For technical support, email:; Phone: (02) 9385 1333

UNSW Learning Centre  

Provides academic skills support services, including workshops and resources, for all UNSW students. See website for details.

Library services and facilities for students

IT Service Centre

Provides technical support to troubleshoot problems with logging into websites, downloading documents, etc.

Office: UNSW Library Annexe (Ground floor); Phone: (02) 9385 1333

UNSW Counselling and Psychological Services  

Provides support and services if you need help with your personal life, getting your academic life back on track or just want to know how to stay safe, including free, confidential counselling.

Office: Level 2, East Wing, Quadrangle Building; Phone: (02) 9385 5418; Email:

Equitable Learning Services (formally Disability Support Services)

Provides assistance to students who are trying to manage the demands of university as well as a health condition, learning disability or have personal circumstances that are having an impact on their studies. 

Phone: (02) 8374 9201; Email:

Nura Gili Indigenous Student Support  

Nura Gili's Academic Support Officers are available to assist Indigenous students

Phone: (02) 9385 3805; Email:

7. Course Evaluation & Development

Continual Course Improvement

Each year feedback is sought from students and other stakeholders about the courses offered in the Business School and continual improvements are made based on this feedback. UNSW's myExperience process is one of the ways in which student evaluative feedback is gathered. In this course we will seek your feedback through end of semester myExperience evaluations.

Student Response

Past feedback from students has been very positive. One suggestion made was to have an additional webinar to discuss the assessments.

Response to Student Feedback

Additional Webinars have been provided as needed.

8. Course Schedule

Week Activity Topic Detail/Engagement Assessment Task
Week 1 Forum discussion and WebinarUnit 1: Corporate responsibility: History and Key Concepts

Participation assessed throughout the duration of the course

Assessment 1 : Participation
Week 2 Forum discussionUnit 2: Business Models for Sustainability
Week 3 Forum discussionUnit 3: The Drivers and Business Case for Corporate Responsibility
Week 4 Forum discussionUnit 4: Accountability and Reporting Performance and Assurance
Week 5 Forum discussionUnit 5: Environment, Natural Resources and Ecosystem Services
Assessment 2 : Group Mini-report
Week 6 Forum DiscussionUnit 6: Corporate Community Involvement and Social capital
Week 7 Forum discussionUnit 7: Corporate Community Involvement and Social Capital
Week 8 Forum discussionUnit 8: Supply Chain Management, Traceability and Transparency
Assessment 2 : Individual Report
Week 9 Forum discussionUnit 9: Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) and the Investment Community
Week 10 Forum discussionUnit 10: Governance and the Board
Week 11 Forum discussionUnit 11: Corporate Political Activity, Technology and Citizens
Assessment 3 : Report and Recommendation
Week 12 Forum discussionUnit 12: The way forward: Future & current trends

9. Policies and Support

Information about UNSW Business School protocols, University policies, student responsibilities and education quality and support.

Program Learning Outcomes

The Business School places knowledge and capabilities at the core of its curriculum via seven Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs). These PLOs are systematically embedded and developed across the duration of all coursework programs in the Business School.

PLOs embody the knowledge, skills and capabilities that are taught, practised and assessed within each Business School program. They articulate what you should know and be able to do upon successful completion of your degree.

Upon graduation, you should have a high level of specialised business knowledge and capacity for responsible business thinking, underpinned by ethical professional practice. You should be able to harness, manage and communicate business information effectively and work collaboratively with others. You should be an experienced problem-solver and critical thinker, with a global perspective, cultural competence and the potential for innovative leadership.

All UNSW programs and courses are designed to assess the attainment of program and/or course level learning outcomes, as required by the UNSW Assessment Design Procedure. It is important that you become familiar with the Business School PLOs, as they constitute the framework which informs and shapes the components and assessments of the courses within your program of study.

PLO 1: Business knowledge

Students will make informed and effective selection and application of knowledge in a discipline or profession, in the contexts of local and global business.

PLO 2: Problem solving

Students will define and address business problems, and propose effective evidence-based solutions, through the application of rigorous analysis and critical thinking.

PLO 3: Business communication

Students will harness, manage and communicate business information effectively using multiple forms of communication across different channels.

PLO 4: Teamwork

Students will interact and collaborate effectively with others to achieve a common business purpose or fulfil a common business project, and reflect critically on the process and the outcomes.

PLO 5: Responsible business practice

Students will develop and be committed to responsible business thinking and approaches, which are underpinned by ethical professional practice and sustainability considerations.

PLO 6: Global and cultural competence

Students will be aware of business systems in the wider world and actively committed to recognise and respect the cultural norms, beliefs and values of others, and will apply this knowledge to interact, communicate and work effectively in diverse environments.

PLO 7: Leadership development

Students will develop the capacity to take initiative, encourage forward thinking and bring about innovation, while effectively influencing others to achieve desired results.

These PLOs relate to undergraduate and postgraduate coursework programs.  Separate PLOs for honours and postgraduate research programs are included under 'Related Documents'.

Business School course outlines provide detailed information for students on how the course learning outcomes, learning activities, and assessment/s contribute to the development of Program Learning Outcomes.



UNSW Graduate Capabilities

The Business School PLOs also incorporate UNSW graduate capabilities, a set of generic abilities and skills that all students are expected to achieve by graduation. These capabilities articulate the University’s institutional values, as well as future employer expectations.

UNSW Graduate CapabilitiesBusiness School PLOs
Scholars capable of independent and collaborative enquiry, rigorous in their analysis, critique and reflection, and able to innovate by applying their knowledge and skills to the solution of novel as well as routine problems.
  • PLO 1: Business knowledge
  • PLO 2: Problem solving
  • PLO 3: Business communication
  • PLO 4: Teamwork
  • PLO 7: Leadership development

Entrepreneurial leaders capable of initiating and embracing innovation and change, as well as engaging and enabling others to contribute to change
  • PLO 1: Business knowledge
  • PLO 2: Problem solving
  • PLO 3: Business communication
  • PLO 4: Teamwork
  • PLO 6: Global and cultural competence
  • PLO 7: Leadership development

Professionals capable of ethical, self-directed practice and independent lifelong learning
  • PLO 1: Business knowledge
  • PLO 2: Problem solving
  • PLO 3: Business communication
  • PLO 5: Responsible business practice

Global citizens who are culturally adept and capable of respecting diversity and acting in a socially just and responsible way.
  • PLO 1: Business knowledge
  • PLO 2: Problem solving
  • PLO 3: Business communication
  • PLO 4: Teamwork
  • PLO 5: Responsible business practice
  • PLO 6: Global and cultural competence

While our programs are designed to provide coverage of all PLOs and graduate capabilities, they also provide you with a great deal of choice and flexibility.  The Business School strongly advises you to choose a range of courses that assist your development against the seven PLOs and four graduate capabilities, and to keep a record of your achievements as part of your portfolio. You can use a portfolio as evidence in employment applications as well as a reference for work or further study. For support with selecting your courses contact the UNSW Business School Student Centre.

Academic Integrity and Plagiarism

Academic Integrity is honest and responsible scholarship. This form of ethical scholarship is highly valued at UNSW. Terms like Academic Integrity, misconduct, referencing, conventions, plagiarism, academic practices, citations and evidence based learning are all considered basic concepts that successful university students understand. Learning how to communicate original ideas, refer sources, work independently, and report results accurately and honestly are skills that you will be able to carry beyond your studies.

The definition of academic misconduct is broad. It covers practices such as cheating, copying and using another person’s work without appropriate acknowledgement. Incidents of academic misconduct may have serious consequences for students.


UNSW regards plagiarism as a form of academic misconduct. UNSW has very strict rules regarding plagiarism. Plagiarism at UNSW is using the words or ideas of others and passing them off as your own. All Schools in the Business School have a Student Ethics Officer who will investigate incidents of plagiarism and may result in a student’s name being placed on the Plagiarism and Student Misconduct Registers.

Below are examples of plagiarism including self-plagiarism:

Copying: Using the same or very similar words to the original text or idea without acknowledging the source or using quotation marks. This includes copying materials, ideas or concepts from a book, article, report or other written document, presentation, composition, artwork, design, drawing, circuitry, computer program or software, website, internet, other electronic resource, or another person's assignment, without appropriate acknowledgement of authorship.

Inappropriate Paraphrasing: Changing a few words and phrases while mostly retaining the original structure and/or progression of ideas of the original, and information without acknowledgement. This also applies in presentations where someone paraphrases another’s ideas or words without credit and to piecing together quotes and paraphrases into a new whole, without appropriate referencing.

Collusion: Presenting work as independent work when it has been produced in whole or part in collusion with other people. Collusion includes:

  • Students providing their work to another student before the due date, or for the purpose of them plagiarising at any time
  • Paying another person to perform an academic task and passing it off as your own
  • Stealing or acquiring another person’s academic work and copying it
  • Offering to complete another person’s work or seeking payment for completing academic work

Collusion should not be confused with academic collaboration (i.e., shared contribution towards a group task).

Inappropriate Citation: Citing sources which have not been read, without acknowledging the 'secondary' source from which knowledge of them has been obtained.

Self-Plagiarism: ‘Self-plagiarism’ occurs where an author republishes their own previously written work and presents it as new findings without referencing the earlier work, either in its entirety or partially. Self-plagiarism is also referred to as 'recycling', 'duplication', or 'multiple submissions of research findings' without disclosure. In the student context, self-plagiarism includes re-using parts of, or all of, a body of work that has already been submitted for assessment without proper citation.

To see if you understand plagiarism, do this short quiz:


The University also regards cheating as a form of academic misconduct. Cheating is knowingly submitting the work of others as their own and includes contract cheating (work produced by an external agent or third party that is submitted under the pretences of being a student’s original piece of work). Cheating is not acceptable at UNSW.

If you need to revise or clarify any terms associated with academic integrity you should explore the 'Working with Academic Integrity' self-paced lessons available at:

For UNSW policies, penalties, and information to help you avoid plagiarism see: as well as the guidelines in the online ELISE tutorials for all new UNSW students: For information on student conduct see:

For information on how to acknowledge your sources and reference correctly, see: If you are unsure what referencing style to use in this course, you should ask the lecturer in charge.

Student Responsibilities and Conduct

​Students are expected to be familiar with and adhere to university policies in relation to class attendance and general conduct and behaviour, including maintaining a safe, respectful environment; and to understand their obligations in relation to workload, assessment and keeping informed.

Information and policies on these topics can be found on the 'Managing your Program' website.


It is expected that you will spend at least ten to twelve hours per week studying for a course except for Summer Term courses which have a minimum weekly workload of twenty to twenty four hours. This time should be made up of reading, research, working on exercises and problems, online activities and attending classes. In periods where you need to complete assignments or prepare for examinations, the workload may be greater. Over-commitment has been a cause of failure for many students. You should take the required workload into account when planning how to balance study with employment and other activities.

We strongly encourage you to connect with your Moodle course websites in the first week of semester. Local and international research indicates that students who engage early and often with their course website are more likely to pass their course.

View more information on expected workload


Your regular and punctual attendance at lectures and seminars or in online learning activities is expected in this course. The Business School reserves the right to refuse final assessment to those students who attend less than 80% of scheduled classes where attendance and participation is required as part of the learning process (e.g., tutorials, flipped classroom sessions, seminars, labs, etc.).

View more information on attendance

General Conduct and Behaviour

You are expected to conduct yourself with consideration and respect for the needs of your fellow students and teaching staff. Conduct which unduly disrupts or interferes with a class, such as ringing or talking on mobile phones, is not acceptable and students may be asked to leave the class.

View more information on student conduct

Health and Safety

UNSW Policy requires each person to work safely and responsibly, in order to avoid personal injury and to protect the safety of others.

View more information on Health and Safety

Keeping Informed

You should take note of all announcements made in lectures, tutorials or on the course web site. From time to time, the University will send important announcements to your university e-mail address without providing you with a paper copy. You will be deemed to have received this information. It is also your responsibility to keep the University informed of all changes to your contact details.

Student Support and Resources

​The University and the Business School provide a wide range of support services and resources for students, including:

Business School EQS Consultation Program
The Consultation Program offers academic writing, literacy and numeracy consultations, study skills, exam preparation for Business students. Services include workshops, online resources, individual and group consultations. 
Level 1, Room 1035, Quadrangle Building.
02 9385 4508

Communication Resources
The Business School Communication and Academic Support programs provide online modules, communication workshops and additional online resources to assist you in developing your academic writing.

Business School Student Centre
The Business School Student Centre provides advice and direction on all aspects of admission, enrolment and graduation.
Level 1, Room 1028 in the Quadrangle Building
02 9385 3189

UNSW Learning & Careers Hub
The UNSW Learning & Careers Hub provides academic skills and careers support services—including workshops, individual consultations and a range of online resources—for all UNSW students. See their website for details.
Lower Ground Floor, North Wing Chancellery Building.
02 9385 2060

Student Support Advisors
Student Support Advisors work with all students to promote the development of skills needed to succeed at university, whilst also providing personal support throughout the process.
John Goodsell Building, Ground Floor.
02 9385 4734

International Student Support
The International Student Experience Unit (ISEU) is the first point of contact for international students. ISEU staff are always here to help with personalised advice and information about all aspects of university life and life in Australia.
Advisors can support you with your student visa, health and wellbeing, making friends, accommodation and academic performance.
02 9385 4734

Equitable Learning Services
Equitable Learning Services (formerly Disability Support Services) is a free and confidential service that provides practical support to ensure that your health condition doesn't adversely affect your studies. Register with the service to receive educational adjustments.
Ground Floor, John Goodsell Building.
02 9385 4734

UNSW Counselling and Psychological Services
Provides support and services if you need help with your personal life, getting your academic life back on track or just want to know how to stay safe, including free, confidential counselling.
Level 2, East Wing, Quadrangle Building.
02 9385 5418

Library services and facilities for students
The UNSW Library offers a range of collections, services and facilities both on-campus and online.
Main Library, F21.
02 9385 2650

Moodle eLearning Support
Moodle is the University’s learning management system. You should ensure that you log into Moodle regularly.
02 9385 3331

UNSW IT provides support and services for students such as password access, email services, wireless services and technical support.
UNSW Library Annexe (Ground floor).
02 9385 1333