• University of Warwick

A Beginner’s Guide to Corporate Social Responsibility

Examine the role of a socially responsible business and how they can contribute to sustainable development.

A group of socially responsible climate activists litter picking on a beach.

A Beginner’s Guide to Corporate Social Responsibility

  • 6 weeks

  • 3 hours per week

  • Digital certificate when eligible

  • Introductory level

Find out more about how to join this course

  • Duration

    6 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours
  • 100% online

    How it works
  • Unlimited subscription

    $189.99 for one yearLearn more

Explore the principles of corporate social responsibility

Corporations are increasingly expected to be visibly socially responsible, driving sustainable development and maintaining transparency in reporting their processes.

On this six-week course from the University of Warwick, you’ll reflect on how businesses engage with and report on the three pillars of sustainability. You’ll further your understanding of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in different contexts and learn how to embed CSR principles into your operations.

Examine international perspectives on globalisation and sustainability

You’ll be introduced to key concepts including corporate social responsibility, corporate citizenship, business ethics, and the social licence to operate, allowing you to fully understand how a corporation should interact with these concepts when driving sustainable development processes.

You’ll explore the global nature of business operations, and examine CSR processes in international contexts, allowing you to assess how sustainability practices differ around the world.

Investigate the relationship between corporations and stakeholders

It can be difficult to plan a CSR initiative that represents the interests of all stakeholders within an organisation.

You’ll explore corporate relationships with employees, consumers, government, suppliers, civil society, analysing stakeholder expectations and how your organisation can deliver on the CSR principles that represent all stakeholders.

Learn how to deliver CSR reports

You’ll be introduced to international frameworks and learn what should be included in a comprehensive CSR report.

Using case studies from different global contexts, you’ll finish this course having gained insights into reporting styles and learn how to model your own report to reflect the context of your organisation.


  • Week 1

    Understanding concepts and approaches

    • Welcome to the course

      Short video with a welcome message and information about the course content, together with a justification for its timeliness; and a recommendation for an activity that can help you understand the relevance of the topic.

    • Some basic concepts and theories

      Here you will find information about the main approaches towards corporate social responsibility and the business ethics framework.

    • Reflect on what you have learnt

      Here you will find a poll with a question to make you reflect on the concepts and ideas seen during the week.

  • Week 2

    Globalisation and sustainability. The triple bottom line

    • The global nature of businesses operations

      We look here at the challenges appearing when corporations operate internationally, as well as the approaches to CSR in different parts of the world.

    • Revisiting your understanding

      This short test reviews what you have learnt during the first two weeks of the course.

  • Week 3

    The relationship of the company with shareholders and suppliers

    • The relationship of the company with shareholders

      Shareholders have been considered as the key stakeholders by traditional business theory. How do they fit in CSR approaches?

    • The relationship of the company with suppliers

      How can the company ensure that its supply chain is sustainable?

    • Alternative business models

      What if instead of profit, the purpose of the company is a different one?

  • Week 4

    The relationship of the company with employees and government

    • The relationship of the company with employees

      Working conditions, salaries, development opportunities,... what makes a company 'good' for their employees?

    • The relationship of the company with government

      With regard to CSR, what should be the role of the government involvement?

    • Revisiting the image of the corporation

      Let's reflect on the image represented by the documentary and the changes since its release.

  • Week 5

    The relationship of the company with consumers and civil society

    • The relationship of the company with consumers

      CSR practices can lead to perceived value added for consumers, influencing consumer loyalty.

    • The relationship of the company with civil society

      We review the involvement of the companies with the local communities they operate in

    • Revisiting your understanding

      Let's reflect on what you have learnt so far. Have your perceptions changed from the beginning of the course?

  • Week 6

    Corporate Social Responsibility reporting

    • Welcome to week 6

      This short audio explain how the activities of this last week of the course are a bit different, more practical, than those of previous weeks.

    • What to report and how to report

      This video provides guidance of what should be included in a CSR report and how, referring the learners to some international initiatives to help companies with their reporting efforts.

    • Examples of reporting

      We will look at CSR and sustainability reporting styles of companies from different sectors, as case studies.

    • Finishing the course

      This is a summarising message of the course content and aims.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

If you'd like to take part while our educators are leading the course, they'll be joining the discussions, in the comments, between these dates:

  • 8 Feb 2023 - 9 Feb 2023

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Demonstrate understanding of what it means to be a socially responsible business and the expectations of society about businesses role in sustainable development
  • Identify the difference between true embeddedness of corporate social responsibility principles in business operations and green or whitewashing
  • Discuss the complexity of the relationship of a company with all its stakeholders (employees, consumers, government, suppliers, civil society and shareholders) in a rapidly changing international context
  • Critically evaluate corporate social responsibility reports according to their merits against the three pillars of sustainability (economic, social and environmental)

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for mid-level managers and employees interested in how to embed corporate social responsibility principles in their operations.

It will benefit both those already in the role of reporting corporate social responsibility and those new to the concept.

Who will you learn with?

I'm Associate Professor in Global Sustainable Development at the University of Warwick. Economist by training, my research interests are linked to sustainability (energy, food, CSR, education) and EU.

Who developed the course?

The University of Warwick

The University of Warwick is forward-looking, entrepreneurial and globally connected. With new ways of thinking and achieving it stands out from its competitors as an inspiring place to study.

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Choose the best way to learn for you!

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Automatically renews

Develop skills to further your career

  • Access to this course
  • Access to 1,000+ courses
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Tests to boost your learning
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Cancel for free anytime

Buy this course

$69/one-off payment

Fulfill your current learning need

  • Access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Tests to boost your learning
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible

Limited access


Sample the course materials

  • Access expires 17 Mar 2023

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

Sale price available until 28 February 2023 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply.

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

Sale price available until 28 February 2023 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply.

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