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Unit of study_

LAWS6140: Corp Soc Responsibility: Theory/Pol

2024 unit information

Today there is an apparent consensus in favour of corporate responsibility, as reflected in instruments such as ASX Principle 3 (Act ethically and responsibly), but behind the appearance of consensus lie difficult questions of principle, policy and practical application. This unit aims to equip participants to engage in a sophisticated manner in the analysis of such questions. The seminar is organized around two broad themes. First, the seminar will examine corporate responsibility in the traditional sense of the consideration that corporations may be expected to give to the impact of their activities have on society, even as they strive to earn profits for their shareholders. Topics include environmental responsibility, corporate philanthropy, and the respective roles of directors, managers and shareholders. Second, the seminar will deal with current debates about the rights and responsibilities that arise from corporate personhood, including those concerning corporate criminal responsibility, corporate political participation, and the status of corporations under international law. Participants will learn to work with relevant primary and secondary legal materials, including materials from selected foreign jurisdictions, especially in North America. They will also become familiar with the conceptual tools available from various interdisciplinary perspectives (e.g., law, economics, philosophy, politics) for analysing problems of corporate responsibility. Further information about this unit is available in the Sydney Law School timetable, unit of study outline and academic staff profile

Unit details and rules

Managing faculty or University school:


Code LAWS6140
Academic unit Law
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge:

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

  • LO1. critically evaluate the central role of the board of directors in corporate governance, including enforcement of directors’ duties and the role of independent directors
  • LO2. demonstrate an advanced understanding of the key themes and theories involved in contemporary corporate social responsibility discourse and be able to communicate effectively this understanding in written and oral form during class
  • LO3. become skilled at evaluating, critically and in a nuanced manner, claims about the legal status of corporate social responsibility
  • LO4. evaluate and synthesise different approaches to stakeholder protection in corporate law during class discussion and in completing assessment tasks
  • LO5. form a defensible view on questions of theory and policy concerning the social responsibilities of corporations and corporate personhood, and to be able to defend this view effectively

Unit availability

This section lists the session, attendance modes and locations the unit is available in. There is a unit outline for each of the unit availabilities, which gives you information about the unit including assessment details and a schedule of weekly activities.

The outline is published 2 weeks before the first day of teaching. You can look at previous outlines for a guide to the details of a unit.

Session MoA ?  Location Outline ? 
Intensive May 2024
Block mode Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney
Session MoA ?  Location Outline ? 
Semester 1b 2023
Block mode Remote

Modes of attendance (MoA)

This refers to the Mode of attendance (MoA) for the unit as it appears when you’re selecting your units in Sydney Student. Find more information about modes of attendance on our website.