How do I structure an exam question?  

Coursework and exam questions are two very different animals.

In a 24 hour exam period, you have access to books, online resources, all the information you were able to use in your essay.  However, we are not expecting you to work on three questions for 24 hours!

So, the approach may be different.

Firstly, the obvious one – your exam questions have a maximum word count of 1000 plus 10%.  So, you simply cannot offer a complex structure in an exam question.

Here’s a very loose approach;


  1. Critically discuss how the debate on climate change might affect our understanding of ethical business practice.  (100 marks)

Define climate change

Climate change is defined by SOURCE as…   Accepting this definition, there are a large number of variations on this theme.  For example, SOURCE X  discusses global warming as a scientific problem, SOURCE Y regards it a geo-political issue.   For the purposes of this question, we will stick to a generally accepted definition.

Why climate change is a current topic in daily life/important/an ethical issue.

These official sources, frequent discussions on social media, newspapers etc all show that climate change is a major social issue.  It is reasonable to assume, therefore that this will involve businesses, which forms a critical part of our everyday social activity..  In this question, we will discuss how the climate change debate can affect our understanding of ethical business practice.

Define business ethics:

Business ethics is the study of DEFINITION (Crane and Matten or other good definition)

Why business should be concerned about climate change

Business does not exist in a vacuum.  Businesses serve populations by providing goods and services, and make money from the customers who buy those goods and services.   It can therefore be argued that businesses have a responsibility, beyond simply making profit, to the communities in which they operate.

This leads into a discussion of eg. Stakeholder theory and CSR. 

Freeman posits that since large companies have such importance in the life of a community, they also have a responsibility to the STAKEHOLDERS of that community and that can include the environment.  A stakeholder is defined as….

This can lead into a discussion of the power of companies, the financial clout they have and, indeed that they may, through pollution etc, have caused part of the problem.  This is a good place to put examples.

Friedman, on the other hand would argue that a manager’s sole responsibility is, etc etc etc.

However, Friedman does not argue that a company should act unethically, and so, on the basis that a link between business and climate change is established, a company can ethically address this.

We can think about traditional ethical theory

Utilitarian theory might suggest that…..

From a non-consequentialist point of view, the ethics of duty demand that business address this because…

Issues are addressed such as Kan’t ethics of duty.

Elkington’s Triple Bottom Line is included as further commentary here

We can then think about, eg, how societies concerns are captured in law.

Business may address climate change by responding to laws and regulations as they are implemented.  Indeed, many businesses have anticipated laws by developing their own policies  (example would be good here)

Final point, if you have done the reading

Its noted that attitudes to climate change have altered as our scientific knowledge has increased.  This has impacted on our attitudes to ethical business practice.   Given our knowledge of the extent to which business contributes to climate change, we can argue that our ethical stance has moved increasingly towards the stakeholder approach to ethical business practice.


In conclusion, therefore, we may argue that the debate on climate change has led us to expect companies to incorporate climate change issues into their ethical planning and performance.


A Source

B Source

C Source

How not to reference

When referencing, we strongly recommend that you only reference sources you have actually consulted.  

You do not need to have read everything!   For example, there is no shame in admitting that you haven’t read Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments.  And, unless you are a professional philosopher, you are very unlikely to have read all (or even part) of Immanuel Kant’s works – but referencing it as if you had may arouse suspicion! 

Greater scholars are relied to explain these concepts to us in simpler language;  you are much more likely to have read a gloss or commentary on Smith’s work via the work of another, in a book or journal.  So, your citation might be something like:

Smith, as noted by Brown (1999) said that…   or

Smith suggests that…  (Brown, 1999) 

Then, you reference Brown  in your reference list. My notes are just under 500 words, so a full question might be twice this length

Type of service: Academic Paper Writing
Type of assignment: Essay
Subject: Management
Pages/words: 6/1650
Number of sources: 10
Academic level: Undergraduate
Paper format: Harvard
Line spacing: Double
Language style: UK English

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