BUU33690 Social Entrepreneurship

(5 ECTS)


Dr. Danielle Byrne 

Phone: 01 896 3850
E-mail: byrned78@tcd.ie 
Office Hours: By Appointment, Trinity Business School, 4.09

Module Description: 

Social Entrepreneurship is a rapidly growing area in Ireland and internationally, as businesses can no longer operate in isolation from social, environmental and political challenges.  When you consider climate change trends, economic inequality, and political instability, arguably, those challenges, are existential and urgent.

The aim of this module is to develop a critical awareness of major issues, opportunities and problems associated with social entrepreneurship in Ireland and internationally. We will examine the theoretical underpinnings of social entrepreneurship and social venture development and analyse patterns of social entrepreneurial behaviour locally and internationally. Social enterprises are organisations that seek to create significant social impact through their initiatives and activities. They are often nonprofits, but also operate within the private and public sectors and within a variety of organisational settings. In this course, participants will work with theory, cases and their own social entrepreneurial projects to identify how social entrepreneurship can respond to and even drive social-economic-political change.

Learning and Teaching Approach:

The approach to teaching and learning will be evidenced based, interactive and learner centred.  Firstly, lecture content and concepts will be based on theories and research from peer reviewed journals.  Students are encouraged to practice questioning and exploring the evidence base for any claim or theory.  Social entrepreneurship is an applied social science, involving organisations and individuals who claim to make real social change.  These claims will be explored and analysed.  Secondly, interactive and learner centred approaches engage students in the learning process in a holistic way.  Interactive facilitation techniques encourage students to draw on their existing knowledge and participate in new knowledge creation in groups.

Learning Outcomes:   

Having successfully completed this module, the student should be able to:

  1. Identify the distinctive characteristics and attributes of social enterprise and social entrepreneurship;
  2. Critically evaluate relevant theory associated with social enterprises and social entrepreneurs in Irish and international contexts;
  3. Analyse initiatives to create social impact and bring about social change and provide critical evaluation and constructive feedback of those initiatives;
  4. Apply the tools and theories of social entrepreneurship to new contexts, including new social and environmental issues and challenges.
  5. Communicate innovative social business ideas through pitching and writing business plans, working both individually and with a team.

Textbooks and Required Resources:

Required core course textbook:

Kickull, J and Lyons, T (2012) Understanding Social Entrepreneurship: The Relentless Pursuit of Mission in an Ever Changing World, Routledge, New York.

General Supplemental Readings:

Brooks, Arthur C. (2009) Social Entrepreneurship: A Modern Approach to Social Venture Creation, Pearson Prentice Hall

Both books can be found in the library. Other readings will be made available during the course.

Student preparation for the module 

In preparation for this module, students should complete the readings on Blackboard before the lecture each week. They can also take a look at the recommended textbooks, above. They can also keep an eye out for examples of social enterprises that you may come across in the news, or through college (Launch Box, Enactus, Tangent, etc). Take a note of these organisations and initiatives for use in class discussion.  


1 x Group Project         30%

1 x Exam                     70%

Group Project (30%) 

As students of business, you will have learned that the earlier influencers, experiences and skills gathered by the entrepreneur prior to founding the business plays an enormous part in the shaping and development of their entrepreneurial journey. This is also true for the social entrepreneur. This critical reflection of our past and current environments helps us consolidate our values and channel them into our future choices and actions.  You will reflect on your own experiences, interests, and concerns, and match them to the United Nations Millennium Development goals.  In groups, you will work to identify and create a social enterprise that you could start up.  

Marks will be given based on the detail provided, the coherency of the overall presentation, the ability to construct a social entrepreneurial business idea that utilises all the answers to the questions asked, and the provision of detailed information on a similar existing social entrepreneurial business anywhere in the world. 

Your assessment will be based on the submission of 2 related group work pieces: 

  • A short Business Plan outline document (no more than 10 pages) that describes the key components of the social enterprise (a business plan guide will be provided), and also, 
  • A presentation that illustrates the key aspects and intentions of the social enterprise business. Group members will be expected to outline your social enterprise in a presentation during class towards the end of the semester. Your presentation should use Powerpoint or other presentation software. 

Group Assignment (Business Plan and Presentation) must be submitted in week 10.  

Final Exam (70%) 

The final exam will be written essay format.  There will be five or six short essay questions and you will be required to respond to three of them. Each question carries equal weight.  The questions will be based on themes and topics from the lectures and readings. You will have three hours to take this exam. More information will be provided during the module.