Marketing, Ethics and Society (MKTU9ME)

MODULE CODE:         




Credit Value:             


Module Coordinator:  

Dr Dimitrios Kolyperas

Contact Hours:         

22 Lectures, 8 Seminars


50% coursework, 50% examination

Module Overview:

Firms are increasingly under media and public scrutiny which have contributed to raising public awareness of ethically-questionable corporate activities. Now more than ever before companies that do not turn their attention towards more responsible and ethical marketing strategies are subject detrimental reputation and financial effects, 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, it 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. This module covers a wide range of topics including the encouragement of environmentally friendly consumption, the marketing of non-profit and public sector organizations, ethical issues facing advertisers, the ethics of marketing to vulnerable populations and examining the role of marketing for harmful products. This provides an opportunity for students to analyse and discuss ethical issues related to marketing practices across all of the 4 P’s.

The module will include a variety of techniques, from lectures, debates, case studies, videos, assigned readings and the development of a marketing plan for a charitable organization. Students are expected to cover all materials in the lectures, textbook and readings and other materials, and are responsible for information in these materials not specifically discussed in class.  Current events relevant to marketing ethics will be discussed regularly.  Therefore, students are expected to keep up on current communication activities in the marketplace.


The purpose of this module is to provide you with an opportunity to better identify and analyse ethical issues related to marketing. This module introduces ethical theories and frameworks that students can apply to a variety of ethical issues in marketing. The topics covered include the ethics of advertising towards vulnerable populations (i.e. children), the use of techniques such as product placement and stealth marketing, ethical considerations related to social and non-profit marketing campaigns and developing advertisements for controversial products. You will engage in weekly debates which address questions such as whether being socially responsible means being irresponsible to the needs of shareholders and whether deceptive marketing practices are acceptable if they lead to ‘good’ outcomes for society.

In addition to being introduced to key ethical theories and frameworks, you will be able to apply these concepts through practical tasks, such as developing a one-year marketing plan for a charitable organization. In this way you will both be able to apply the knowledge you have learnt as well as strengthen your ability to justify and support ethical positions through logic and argument. Some of the aims and objectives are summarised below.

  1. Provide students with a broad understanding of how marketing affects society in which we live.
  2. Develop skills necessary to apply a variety of concepts in public and private sector organizations.
  3. Be able to identify marketing ethics issues and to understand how these issues affect various stakeholders
  4. Better understand the implications of individual consumption behaviour and how ethics can be integrated into personal consumption decisions.

Learning Outcomes:

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

  1. An in-depth and balanced appreciation of the theoretical foundations of marketing alongside current and emerging practitioner applications including marketing decisions, consumer behaviour and market research methods
  2. an ability to understand the development of appropriate marketing strategies within a changing environment, to meet various business, marketing and stakeholder demands in sports
  3. an understanding of the impact of environmental forces on organisations including legal, market, ethical, social and te4chnological change issues
  4. A critical understanding of the impact of sustainability, stakeholder management, marketing ethics, and risk management on marketing decisions and performance
  5. a deep appreciation of sport consumers including customer expectations, motivations, service and orientation

 Also student should be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge and awareness of the ethical issues and challenges in marketing, markets and consumer society
  • Explain the multidimensional and dynamic impact of (un) ethical decisions made by marketers and consumers
  • Describe and critically analyse the conceptual frameworks related to marketing and consumption ethics
  • Selectively apply relevant theoretical tools to either reactively or proactively solve a marketing management issue
  • Synthesise arguments from a range of sources in an objective way as to describe both spectrums of debates 
  • Take part in discussions and bulletin boards and, thus, enhance their communication and critical skills
  • Search for relevant sources of information in order to conduct and deliver assessed and non-assessed (seminar) coursework
  • 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

Skills developed include:

  • Analytical skills : Critical appraisal and application of ethical theories to case studies; also includes the ability to develop and support an argument
  • Oral communication skills – Ability to discuss ethical issues facing organizations and to communicate effectively in a discussion-based setting
  • Teamwork and discussion skills : Ability to critically discuss marketing ethical issues and to provide recommendations to remedy such issues
  • Research skills: Ability to conduct research into marketing issues faced by non-profit organizations


Suggested Reading:

The core reading is largely based on one key text and supplemented by journal articles. All students are expected to read the core material before each session and encouraged to update their level of understanding by exploration of issues and debates currently available throughout library resources and Internet sites introduced to them in this module.

Core reading: Murphy and Laczniak, Marketing Ethics: Cases and Readings, Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006. ISBN: 0131330887


This module information is representative of what is included in the module in a given year. Details of actual reading, lectures and coursework may vary year to year and will be available at the beginning of the semester.

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