Marketing Ethics

Third year module

Firms are increasingly under the scrutiny of NGO's and consumer groups, and the media have contributed to raising public awareness of ethically-questionable corporate activities. Now companies that do not 'genuinely' or 'consistently' adopt more responsible and ethical marketing strategies are subject to much cynicism, and there is much research to alert us to the competing demands, ethical challenges and paradoxes faced by organisations that attempt to respond accordingly. Marketing and marketers are often blamed for corporate misbehaviour, and indeed current marketing thought tends to be firm-centric as opposed to stakeholder-oriented.

This module will explore a range of ethical issues in marketing theory and practice. Specifically, the module will examine issues concerning the ethics of markets and marketing, ethical marketing and decision-making, ethical consumption and the ethics of consumption, power relationships between producers and consumers, as well as ethical philosophy and frameworks that facilitate the analysis of ethical issues in marketing.

Teaching and learning will be achieved through a combination of lectures, case studies, videos, group discussions and blogs. It is expected that students actively contribute to, and participate in, classroom and on-line debates; the aim is to foster a collaborative and non-judgemental learning environment.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate sophisticated awareness of the ethical issues and challenges in marketing, markets and consumer society.
  • Explain the complex and dynamic influences that impact upon the (un)ethical decisions made by marketers and consumers.
  • Explain and critically evaluate the conceptual frameworks related to marketing and consumption ethics.
  • Selectively apply relevant theoretical frameworks to diagnose and solve marketing management issues.
  • Synthesise arguments from a range of sources, critically analyse the work of researchers and authors in this field, and use that criticism in an objective way.
  • Take part in discussions, debates and bulletin boards and, thus, enhance their communication and critical skills.
  • Search for relevant sources of information in order to conceptualise and deliver assessed and non-assessed coursework.
  • Design and deliver written assignments and oral presentations.
  • Organise teamwork, carry out creative problem solving, and show self-management and independent learning.
  • Plan, make decisions and exercise judgement in relation to their work.


one individual two-hour examination (70%), and an assessed group coursework (30%) of 3,000 words (about 600 words per student).