TABL2712 Business Ethics and the Law - 2020

6 Units of Credit
On Campus
Taxation & Business Law
This course outline is for the current semester. To view outlines from other years and/or semesters, visit the archives

1. Course Details

Summary of Course

Society increasingly demands ethical and social responsibility. This course provides an ethical dimension to the conduct of contemporary commerce in Australia. Although ethics exist independently of the law, legislative and common law developments are increasingly imposing higher standards of commercial morality. This course examines the conceptual basis of ethical behaviour and the increasing attempts by the law to prescribe ethical behaviour. The course uses a case studies approach.

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.

View course timetable

Course Policies & Support

Course Aims and Relationship to Other Courses

TABL2712 Business Ethics and the Law course is an elective offered by the School of Taxation and Business Law. The course aims to equip students with an understanding of business ethics. The course can be completed on its own or as part of a major offered by the School of Taxation and Business Law.

2. Staff Contact Details

Position Title Name Email Location Phone Consultation Times
Lecturer-in-chargeMrPhillip SpenceLevel 2, Quadrangle Building – Ref E1599796690Email for consultation times

Communication with Staff

When you contact Phillip by email please:

  • Use your university email address
  • Specify the course TABL2712.
  • Sign off by using your name and include your z number

3. Learning and Teaching Activities

Approach to Learning and Teaching in the Course

This course is delivered in blended mode. There is very little lecture style teaching in our meetings as students will be expected to have watched a series of videos and read material before the meeting commences. The meetings will mainly be examination of case studies and student-led seminars. These student-led seminars are an essential part of learning in this course. The purpose of the seminars is to discuss in detail case studies relating to business ethics and the law. Active student involvement is encouraged as a way of promoting a deeper awareness and understanding of legal principles. In the first class, students will be allocated a seminar presentation to be done during class in a week scheduled on Moodle and the seminar presentation topics will also be scheduled on Moodle. Seminar presentations commence in Week 1. Students must do their seminar presentation in their allocated class. The purpose of student seminar presentations is for the group to lead discussion on specific issues that impact on business ethics.

Learning Activities and Teaching Strategies

This course is conducted with the aim of promoting student-centred learning. This aim will be achieved by encouraging students to engage with the topics presented in the course through independent research on the internet and electronic databases as part of the weekly seminar presentations and contributions to Moodle Forums on a case study for each week. The assessment in this course is designed to promote students’ understanding of contemporary ethical challenges and the various paradigms for resolving such challenges.

5. Course Resources

The website for this course is on Moodle.

The textbook for this course is:

  • Moral Issues in Business, 3rd Asia Pacific Edition by William H Shaw, Vincent Barry, Theodora Issa, Bevan Catley and Donata Muntean, 2016. This book is available from the UNSW Bookstore. The required readings are drawn from this book as well as the cases that you will be presenting.
  • Other interesting areas for consideration of morality and ethics in business is the ICAC NSW website and other websites catering to professional bodies such as the NSW Law Society and the Certified Practising Accountants.

Electronic Databases

The UNSW library subscribes to several electronic databases. The UNSW library database can be accessed via the library website.

6. Course Evaluation & Development

Feedback is regularly sought from students and continual improvements are made based on this feedback. At the end of this course, you will be asked to complete the myExperience survey, which provides a key source of student evaluative feedback. Your input into this quality enhancement process is extremely valuable in assisting us to meet the needs of our students and provide an effective and enriching learning experience. The results of all surveys are carefully considered and do lead to action towards enhancing educational quality.

Each year feedback is sought from students and other stakeholders about the courses offered in the School and continual improvements are made based on this feedback. UNSW's myExperience survey is one of the ways in which student evaluative feedback is gathered. In this course, we will seek your feedback through end of term myExperience responses and feedback during class. Feedback from previous students indicated that there should be forum summaries and a means to ask questions during the videos. As a result of this feedback, the forum summary will be completed by students each week and there is a forum in which to ask questions in each of the Moodle video pages.
In this semester, there will be a peer evaluation of the presenters of seminar topics. The peer evaluation that had been conducted is to be discussed at the commencement of the next class.

7. Course Schedule

Note: for more information on the UNSW academic calendar and key dates including study period, exam, supplementary exam and result release, please visit:
Week Activity Topic Assessment/Other
Week 1: 6 JanuaryClass 1

Business Morals

Introduction: Seeing the moral dimension of Business

Textbook: Review of Chapter 1 in the Moral Issues in Business Shaw latest edition.

The class will examine the moral dimension of business and at the same time question the concept of ethics in a self interest vs. public interest scheme.

Consideration will be given to examining how ethics apply in an organisational structure.

Weekly during the semester:

  • Students will be allocated a presentation topic and a time and date for these topics to be delivered in class. These topics take the form of case studies and they are all listed in the prescribed Text Book.
  • In each class there will also be consideration of a Forum Topic. These Forum Topics are expected to be representative of the daily happenings in the business world.
  • Students are expected to make their own summaries of the Forum topics, in each class, and they will have to lodge these summaries on Moodle by the commencement of the next class.
  • Each student will be assigned, at least once during the semester, the task of summarizing in writing, on one page, the discussions of class members regarding the Forum Topic - this will be called a Forum Post. This Forum Post is to be lodged on Moodle by the Friday of the week in which the Forum Topic was discussed.

The detail of all of the assessments during the course are as follows:

  • Each student will have to do at least one class presentation of a nominated case study extracted from the textbook. A two page summary of the presentation plus any power-points and supporting documents are to be emailed to the LIC by 6pm on the day of presentation. The class presentation is worth 20% of the total marks.
  • There will be a peer review, and feedback will be provided, regarding the presentations. The feedback will be made in class in the week following the presentation.
  • The Forum is meant to be a discussion between the students of a topic presently in the news that is of moral/virtue significance. All students are expected to participate in the Forum discussions and they are to make a written copy of their contributions, of at least one page, and this is to be lodged on Wiki. At least one student will be nominated in each class to complete a Forum Post. This is a summarizing of the class discussion of that day's Forum Topic - this is to be lodged on Moodle by 6pm on the Friday following class. At the end of the semester (6 Feb.) all students have to submit a three hundred word Reflective Forum piece on Turnitin. The Reflective Forum Piece needs to explain why they chose their three Forum discussions as being their best. The Forum Reflective Piece is worth 20% of the total marks
  • There is a requirement for an Annotated Bibliography of the Research Essay (at least five sources must be provided). The individual student's Annotated Bibliography of the Research Essay must be submitted on Wiki by 6pm on 16 Jan.
  • A further requirement for the Research Essay is that the Annotated Bibliography must be peer reviewed by another student in the class and that peer review must be submitted by the reviewer on Wiki by 6pm on 21 Jan.
  • The marks allocated to the Research Essay are 50% of the total marks. The topic for the Research Essay will be provided on Moodle in Week 1 of the Semester. The Research Essay must be submitted on Moodle by 6pm on 6 Feb.
  • On 6 Feb. each student will also be required to submit a Class Participation Advocacy paper of no more than 2 pages. The submission must advocate what mark they feel that they should receive for their class participation during the semester. This is to be submitted directly to the LIC. This is worth 10% of the total marks.

Presentation of case studies for week 1:

Pester Power" p.40 of the textbook and the "A7D Affair" p.42 of the textbook.

Lecturer to present.

Class 2

Normative theories of ethics. Chapter 2 of the textbook

Ethical theories: Virtue ethics; Ethics of care; Kant's ethics; Egoism and Utilitarianism will be examined.

The need for moral decision making.

Required reading:

Textbook Chapter 2: Normative theories of ethics.

Student seminar topics:

  • "Normative theories of ethics" page 94 of the textbook.
  • "Hacking into Harvard" page 96 of the textbook.

Proposed Forum Topic 1:

It has been said that the ASX listing Rules are obsolete. It has also be said that it is impossible to make the listing rules relevant to today's business world.



Week 2: 13 JanuaryClass 3

Ethical theories

Taking a moral position in a company.

Required reading: Textbook Chapter 3

The argument for and against capitalism.

Utilitarianism, libertarianism, markets and property, just economic distribution and the resulting benefits and burdens.

Capitalism vs. Socialism

The changing attitudes towards work


Student seminar topics:

  • "The nature of capitalism: Farmers and complicated financial instruments" p.143 of the textbook.
  • "Catastrophe in Bangladesh" p. 146 of the textbook.

Forum 2

Class 4

Corporate Social Responsibility and Corporate Governance

Required reading: Textbook Chapter 4

Attitudes towards corporate responsibility:

  • profit maximisation
  • social purpose
  • shareholders and the corporation

Institutionalising ethics within a corporation and the examination of corporate moral codes.

The real meaning of the terms corporate social responsibility


Student seminars:

"HIH and lessons for corporate governance" p.189 of the textbook.

"Corporations and religious faith" p.193 of the textbook.


Forum 3


The Annotated Bibliography for the Research Essay is due by 6pm , 16 Jan. This must be posted on Wiki

The Annotated Bibliography for the Research Essay must have been Reviewed by another student, in accordance with the Rubric provided. The Review is to be lodged on Wiki by 6pm, 21 Jan

Week 3: 20 JanuaryClass 5


Required reading: Textbook Chap. 5

The morality and ethics of consumption.

Ethics in action: Where product safety is involved and the applicable regulatory framework needs to be considered regarding its adequacy.

The issues concerning advertising include consumer needs, market economics, free speech and the media.

Student seminars for presentation are:

"And the new McDonalds goes...where" on p.243 of the textbook; and

"Free speech or false advertising" on p.246 of the textbook

Forum 4

Lodgement of the Peer Review of the Annotated Research Essay to be on Wiki by 6pm, 21 Jan.

Class 6

International business

Required reading: Textbook Chap.6

International business: Moral and ethical issues.

Moral issues and globalisation.

Multinational corporations and corruption. Child labour and sweatshops and other employment abuses.

Student seminars:

"Cash and Carry: Bharti Walmart in India" on p. 278 of the textbook.

"Hot coffee at McDonalds" on p.281 of the textbook.

Forum 5

Week 4: 27 JanuaryClass 7

The Environment

Required reading: Textbook Ch.7

Environmental ethics in business.

Some of the contentious issues are:

  • The question is who should pay the costs involving the environment.
  • Obligations to future generations.
  • Valuing nature.
  • Obligations owed to animals.


Student seminars:

"Rare snails and coal mining" p.325 of the textbook.

"Poverty and pollution" p.328 of the textbook.

Forum 6

Class 8

Organisational ethics

Required reading: Textbook Ch. 8

The organisation: Ethical and moral issues include loyalty to the employer, conflicts of interest that may arise and obligations to third parties.

The employer and your private life.

Employment and the 24 hours a day commitment.

Bullying, job discrimination, age and ethnicity - common areas where there may be issues.

Student seminars

"Hutong enterprises. Hurting the hearts of employees" p.383 of the textbook.

"Web porn at work" p.386 of the textbook.

Forum 7

Week 5: 3 FebruaryClass 9

Workplace issues

Required reading: Textbook Chapter 9

Ethics at work: Use of personality tests, the monitoring of employees and drug testing.

The abuse by an individual of an official position has seen investigations by ICAC, but this is primarily government based. The Corporation Act supposedly governs the actions of the commercial world.

Insider trading and Whistleblowers all have a role to play.


Student seminars:

"Adam Goodes and Racism in sport" p.432 of the textbook.

"She snoops to conquer" p. 434 of the textbook.


Forum 8

Class 10

Leadership and culture

Required reading: Textbook Chaps.10 and 11

Ethics, leadership and culture. Personal morality and ethical leadership behaviour do have an impact on the bottom line.

Self interest justification.

Regulation of ethics has been suggested.

It has been said that we always need to reflect on how our actions affect others.

Student seminars:

Student seminar:

"The Double Dutch Irish sandwich" P. 474 of the textbook.

"Conflicting perspectives on conflicts of interest" P. 477 of the textbook.

The Class Participation Advocacy submission is due from all students. This is to be presented to the LIC. in class on 6 Feb.

The Forum Reflective representing the individual student's choice of their three best Forum summaries during the semester is to be lodged on Turnitin on 6 Feb. The marks total 20% for this assessment.

The Research Essay is to be lodged by 6pm, 6 Feb. on Turnitin.



8. 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 Centre
The UNSW Learning Centre provides academic skills support services, including workshops and resources, for all UNSW students. See their website for details.
Lower Ground Floor, North Wing Chancellery Building.
02 9385 2060

Educational Support Service
Educational 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. Check their website to request an appointment or to register in the Academic Success Program.
John Goodsell Building, Ground Floor.
02 9385 4734

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

Disability Support Services
UNSW 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 who have personal circumstances that are having an impact on their studies. Disability Advisers can arrange to put in place services and educational adjustments to make things more manageable so that students are able to complete their course requirements. To receive educational adjustments for disability support, students must first register with Disability Services.
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

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