Please note: there may be some adjustments to the teaching arrangements published in the course catalogue for 2020-21. Given current circumstances related to the Covid-19 pandemic it is anticipated that some usual arrangements for teaching on campus will be modified to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff on campus; further adjustments may also be necessary, or beneficial, during the course of the academic year as national requirements relating to management of the pandemic are revised.

Corporate Social Responsibility and the Law LAW5168

  • Academic Session: 2022-23
  • School: School of Law
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: No
  • Available to Erasmus Students: No

Short Description

The course examines the role of law and institutions in developing the modern-day concepts and practices of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Corporate Environmental Responsibility (CER). Students on the course will explore CSR and CER adaptions within corporate law and governance, and consider the wider development of laws and institutions that support the "accountability" of companies and sustainable economic development.


The course equips students with knowledge and skills that they can apply in legal practice, government, civil society, industry, research, and academic sectors. The topics covered are international and comparative in their consideration of the concepts and practices of CSR, CER, and the 'new corporate accountability'.


By the end of this course students will be able to:


■ Demonstrate a detailed understanding of the history, concept and practice of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and corporate environmental responsibility (CER) in corporate law and governance. 


10 x 2 hour seminars in semester 2.

Requirements of Entry

The course is open to all LLM students subject to the requirements of the LLM programme on which a student is enrolled.

Excluded Courses





The course is assessed by an essay of 1500 words (25%) and a 2 hour final examination (75%).

Main Assessment In: April/May

Course Aims

■ To provide students with an understanding of the history, concept and practice of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Corporate Environmental Responsibility (CER) the role of law and institutions in this area.


■ To enable students to reflect on the role of different stakeholders as well as different regulatory approaches in the practice of CSR and CER, and apply those insights to current governance issues both nationally and globally.


■ To provide opportunities for students to reflect on the multi-dimensional regulation and governance strategies entwined within CSR and CER and their bearing on corporate decision-making.


■ To enable students to explore the breadth of CSR and CER institutions and obligations within corporate, investment, private, and human rights law, and to evaluate the accountability of companies with reference to leading debates about the issues and legal reform.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:


1. Demonstrate a detailed understanding of the history, concept and practice of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and corporate environmental responsibility (CER).


2. Identify and evaluate the different sources and institutions of CSR and CER within corporate law and governance, and critically evaluate the role of stakeholders and 'soft-law' and market discipline in CSR and CER.


3. Identify and analyze a wider range of legal frameworks and obligations concerned with the transnational governance of companies and corporate accountability in investment law, private law, and international human rights law.


4. Explain the normative and conceptual breadth of CSR and CER debates and issues and draw meaningful comparisons between different approaches to the subject in different jurisdictions.


5. Enter into and engage with current debates and reform proposals in CSR and CER, relating developments in law to domestic and global agenda for sustainable economic development, including the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.