None. Proficiency in English both orally and in writing is strongly recommended.
Business decisions impact on all levels of society. Therefore companies have been encouraged by governments, international organisations and civil society to conduct their business in a ‘socially responsible way’ and to pursue ‘best practices’ that enhance value in three dimensions: ‘Planet, People, Profit’.
This course on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) will focus on the place of CSR in society and the law, and address the role of the stakeholders in society. Students will be introduced in the legal framework applicable in CSR issues. They will receive general knowledge of the principle legal topics regarding CSR, including the influence of corporate codes of conduct, the responsibility of parent companies for their subsidiaries abroad, contractual remedies in the field of CSR and their limits with a view to market regulation. In addition, students will have the chance to speak, in class, with relevant guests about CSR dilemmas.
During this interactive course on CSR, students will perform individually, collaborate on tasks, and participate in discussions on CSR dilemmas. Using general analytical and practical skill to assess CSR dilemmas, students will deduce and address the relevant questions from a given case and find the relevant sources. Students will be taught the ability to demonstrate a critical and independent view when confronted with a CSR issue, and report both in oral presentations and in written essays. A basic knowledge of corporate law, private law and human rights is recommended and is sufficient for participation.
Objectives of the course
The principal objectives of this course are:
to introduce definitions and examples of corporate social responsibility (CSR);
to introduce the business environment and the stakeholder approach;
to introduce the most salient aspects of CSR in a national, European and global context;
to introduce international, European and Dutch legal and policy aspects of CSR;
to enhance awareness of the dilemmas intrinsic to doing business on a global scale;
to introduce different roles and perspectives such as the role of the policymaker/lawmaker and the perspective of a public interest law organisation;
to identify the instruments of private lawyers to implement CSR policies and to assess the nature of those instruments (voluntary or not; legally binding or not);
to study instruments at the corporate level such as corporate supplier codes of conduct and to assess their nature (legally binding or not).
By the end of the course the students should have:
an understanding of CSR dilemmas; students should be able to recognize CSR dilemmas, and they should have an understanding of the position of the principle stakeholders; students should have an understanding of their role as the international business lawyers of tomorrow; and understand different roles and perspectives with regard to CSR;
a general knowledge of the laws, regulations and policies applicable in CSR issues, including the OECD guidelines, the Ruggie framework, the UN Global Compact;
a general analytical and practical skill to assess CSR dilemmas, in the sense that students are able to define a CSR problem, identify the stakeholders involved, determine and assess decisions at a corporate management level that are relevant to CSR, in dealing with CSR matters assess the role of the OECD guidelines, the Ruggie framework and other CSR guidance, assess the legal relationship between a corporation and its suppliers;
a general analytical and practical skill to assess the legal meaning of a CSR corporate policy such as a corporate supplier code of conduct; draft a contractual clause on CSR between a company and its supplier;
an understanding of the responsibility of parent companies for their subsidiaries doing business abroad; an understanding of liability in CSR matters and of contractual instruments relevant to CSR;
a general analytical and practical skill to work with the course material, use the information in essays, and reflect on the information using the course material;
a general practical skill to work with fellow students and discuss CSR dilemmas;
the ability to express their views in writing, following in a clear line of reasoning; the ability to write essays; the ability to review the written essays of fellow students.
The course is planned for the following period: weeks 36-42. The full timetable of this course can be found in uSis.
Mode of instruction
Number of (2 hour) lectures: 7
Names of lecturers: Prof. mr. A.G. Castermans
Required preparation by students: reading material on Blackboard for every session (participants are required to prepare reading material for each session)
Number of (2 hour) seminars: 7
Names of instructors: Prof. mr. A.G. Castermans
Required preparation by students: weekly assignments (participants are required to write and hand in essays; practice feedback; present views/defend a position in an oral presentation, both in small teams and individually)
Other methods of instruction
A. The assessment of this course is based on two elements:
1. Two graded group assignments consisting of a written essay of max. 400 words.
( Students are instructed to work with their team and address specific questions in connection with the presented topic while referring to and reflecting on relevant sources, all of which is explained in the assignments.
The assignments will be graded individually on a 0-10 point-scale. Each member of the team receives the same grade, provided the team member has participated in the assignments. The two grades combined will earn the student a maximum of 20 points, out of a 100 in total. For example, a student can score 6 points and 7 points respectively, which means he has scored 13 points for the assignments combined. This score will be added to the points he will earn on the final exam.
The assignments cannot be retaken.
In order to enhance various practical skills, there will also be practical exercises such as team presentations and the practice of writing skills and research skills. The practical exercises are not graded.
- One graded, individual final exam at the end of the course consisting of a written essay of max. 800 words on a dilemma in the field of corporate social responsibility.
Students are instructed to read a news or background article provided with the exam and address a set of questions in their essay, while also referring to and reflecting on relevant parts of the course material, all of which is explained in the exam instructions.
This essay will earn the student a maximum of 80 points out of a 100. For example, a student can earn 56 points for the final exam.
All points earned together make up the final grade. The student in the example earns 13 + 56 = 69 points out of a 100 points in total, which means that the student passes (a ‘7’ in uSis).
All assignments, practical exercises, the exam and the re-exam, are in English.
B. Students must submit the two graded assignments on time and fulfill the assignments in a serious way.
Students may not miss the graded assignments. If they miss one or both, they are excluded from taking part in the exam and the re-exam.
Assignments that are handed in late or are according to the teachers not fulfilled in a serious way, will count as ‘missed’.
Students prepare for the assignments and the exam/re-exam in practical exercises, which are not graded.
Re-examination is open only to course participants who failed in the regular exam; unless permission is obtained from the course teachers to miss the regular exam and do the re-exam instead. In that case, however, there is no second chance and the student must re-take the entire course the following academic year.
The maximum of 20 points, out of a 100, earned on the assignments during the course also counts for the re-examination, but is no longer valid after that. If a student has not passed the course by the end of the academic year, the scores on the assignments, the exam, and the re-exam are no longer valid and the student must re-take the entire course the following academic year.
Regulation retake passed exams
In this course it is possible to retake an exam that has been passed (cf. art. 126.96.36.199 and further of the Course and Examination Regulations), on the condition that this course is included in the compulsory components of the degree programme. Students who have passed the exam may retake the final written assessment (test) of the course. Please contact the Student Administration Office (OIC) for more information.
To be announced in course book and/or on Blackboard.
Areas to be tested within the exam
All subjects taught in the lectures and seminars, all reading material (literature, case-law) published on Blackboard, all other instructions and skills taught during the course.
More information on this course is offered on Blackboard.
Obligatory course materials
- A.G. Castermans & C.P.L. van Woensel (Eds.), CSR for young business lawyers, The Hague: Eleven 2017.
Registration using uSis.
Participants are also asked to enroll on Blackboard (CSR) two weeks prior to the start of the course, to access reading material and find instructions regarding the sessions and practical exercises and assignments.
IBL students and exchange students have priority in the process of registration. Any remaining seats in the lecture hall are available to other students.
For questions regarding this course, please contact the secretariat:
Secretary: Ms J. Kroon
Coordinator: A.G. Castermans
Work address: KOG, Steenschuur 25
Telephone number: +31 (0)71 527 7400
Institute: Leiden Law School, Institute for Private Law
Department: Civil Law
Room number secretary: B2.43
Opening hours: Daily, 9:00-13:30
Telephone number secretary: +31 (0)71 527 7400
If you have questions regarding the course, please contact Ms Kroon (details above).
Contractonderwijs (Note in Dutch for students participating in so-called Contractonderwijs)
Belangstellenden die deze cursus in het kader van contractonderwijs willen volgen (met tentamen), kunnen meer informatie vinden over kosten, inschrijving, voorwaarden, etc. op de website van Juridisch PAO. Let op dat er wel voldaan moet worden aan de toegangseisen.