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Unit of study_

CLAW2207: Business, Ethics and the Law

Semester 2, 2021 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

Australian businesses operate in a complex regulatory environment that imposes legal obligations on business conduct. Society is increasingly demanding ethical and social responsibility from business, its managers and their professional advisers. This unit analyses the relationship between business, ethics and the law. This unit applies ethical philosophies to case studies in order to explore the types of decisions made by professionals and business managers. The unit examines the professional and legal obligations of accountants, auditors and lawyers and the interaction of these professionals with company officers. The unit aims to assist students to understand and apply ethics to their professional life and to governance in business.

Unit details and rules

Unit code CLAW2207
Academic unit
Credit points 6
CLAW1001 or CLAW2214
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Barbara Mescher,
Lecturer(s) Barbara Mescher,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Final exam (Take-home short release) Type D final exam Final exam
50% Formal exam period 3 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
In-semester test (Take-home short release) Type D in-semester exam Mid-semester exam
30% Week 07
Due date: 25 Sep 2021 at 17:00
3 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Assignment group assignment Research paper
Written assignment
20% Week 11
Due date: 29 Oct 2021 at 16:00

Closing date: 05 Nov 2021
2000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
group assignment = group assignment ?
Type D final exam = Type D final exam ?
Type D in-semester exam = Type D in-semester exam ?

Assessment summary

  • Research paper (worth 20%): This is a group paper of 2,000 words. The research question will be supplied early in semester and guidance given in class. The paper is DUE week 11, Friday 29/10/21, 4 pm via Turnitin.
  • Mid-semester exam (worth 30%): This is an open book exam of 3 hours, expected to be held in week 7, out of class time (date and time to be advised). The material covered for this exam is:  weeks 1-5 lectures (inclusive); and weeks 2-6 workshops (inclusive) including workshop reading material. The exam will comprise a problem question and a question on the workshop reading.
  • Final exam (worth 50%): This is an open book exam of 3 hours, to be held in the formal exam period.  It will cover lecture material from weeks 1 – 13, applying the philosophies taught in weeks 1-5 to the topics taught in weeks 6 – 12.  The exam will comprise a problem question and a question on the workshop reading from weeks 7 – 13 inclusive. 

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a high distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100

Awarded when you demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at an exceptional standard, as defined by grade descriptors or exemplars outlined by your faculty or school. 


75 - 84

Awarded when you demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at a very high standard, as defined by grade descriptors or exemplars outlined by your faculty or school.


65 - 74

Awarded when you demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at a good standard, as defined by grade descriptors or exemplars outlined by your faculty or school.


50 - 64

Awarded when you demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at an acceptable standard, as defined by grade descriptors or exemplars outlined by your faculty or school. 


0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.

For more information see

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 1. Introduction to ethics, morals and values; 2. Assessment details Lecture (3 hr) LO3
Week 02 Kant model: human rights and duty-based ethics, competing rights Lecture (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 03 1. International human rights and the law: the United Nations declaration of human rights, 1948; 2. The Magna Carta, 1215: the law, human rights and ethics Lecture (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 04 1. Bentham and Mill's Model: utilitarianism - utility and consequences; 2. Problem question to prepare for mid-semester exam Lecture (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO6
Week 05 1. Aristotle's model: virtue ethics - character of decision-makers; 2. Problem question to prepare for mid-semester exam Lecture (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 06 Professionals: professional obligations in law and ethics Lecture (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 07 Professionals: codes of conduct and regulation by professional bodies. Professional roles as gatekeepers and whistle blowers. UNIVERSITY VACATION 27/9/21 - 4/10/21 inclusive Lecture (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Week 08 RESEARCH WORKSHOP: Lecture (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Week 09 Professional practice issues: business client demands versus professional obligations in law and ethics. Lecture (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Week 10 Corporations: the law and business. Lecture (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Week 11 Corporate governance of public companies: legal and ethical issues. Lecture (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Week 12 Corporate governance: law, ethics, codes of conduct, corporate social responsibility and corporate culture Lecture (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Week 13 Preparation for final examination: problem questions; workshop questions. The legal and ethical reasoning required for both. Lecture (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6

Attendance and class requirements

Lecture recordings: All lectures and seminars are recorded and will be available on Canvas for student use. Please note the Business School does not own the system and cannot guarantee that the system will operate or that every class will be recorded. Students should ensure they attend and participate in all classes.

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

All readings for this unit can be accessed through the Reading List available on Canvas. This list includes lecture readings (10%) of the List and workshop readings (90%) of the List.  The remainder of the lecture readings are available in the following text for this UOS.

  • Laura Hartman, Joe DesJardins, Chris MacDonald, Business Ethics: Decision Making for Personal Integrity and Social Responsibility (McGraw Hill, 5th ed, 2021). 

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. explain ethical and legal principles in a business context
  • LO2. analyse ethical philosophies and the law; engage in ethical and legal reasoning in order to apply these disciplines to business and the professions
  • LO3. explain legal and ethical principles - either orally or in writing - in a clear, concise manner
  • LO4. explain ethics and social responsibility in relation to society's expectations of business and business professions
  • LO5. collaborate effectively with others
  • LO6. analyse and diagnose legal and ethical problems faced by business.
  • LO7. 1 - 6 inclusive

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

No changes have been made since this unit was last offered


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

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