BUU44620 Social Innovation and Social Impact 2023/24

(20 ECTS)

Lecturer: Prof Gemma Donnelly-Cox

Email: gdnnllyc@tcd.ie

Office Hours: By appointment only

Module Description:

Social innovation is the process of creating, and / or developing and implementing a novel concept, idea, or organization, that benefits society (social and/or environmental benefit) and is achieved through community, business, institutional, and/or behavioural change (TCD Centre for Social Innovation). It is about developing and implementing effective solutions to social and environmental issues.  If you are interested in thinking differently and making a difference, whether your focus is climate action, or marriage equality, you are interested in social innovation. This 20 credit capstone module immerses students in social innovation theory, practice, and research. In tandem with studying concepts for and approaches to social innovation and value creation, participants are supported to formulate and clarify a social innovation research topic, conduct a rapid systematic literature review, and develop a social innovation research proposal.  In 2023/4, students will be supported to work on SI topics related to environment, nature-based solutions, and social and environmental sustainability.

Participants take part in a two-hour seminar weekly.  Participation is expected and will contribute to participants’ overall mark. Participation – both in class attendance and engagement, and formal presentation of your work – counts for 25% of your overall capstone mark.

Learning and Teaching Approach:

This module has a heavy emphasis on research skills development.

The ‘skills’ element of the module is achieved through the independent research seminars and assignments that are designed to train students in social science research, with an emphasis on conducting social innovation research within the management disciplines. This element of the module enables students to pursue their own social innovation / social impact-related research interest, while learning relevant research skills in rapid systematic literature review, research proposal writing, and applying for ethical approval. Students will produce two pieces of work: a rapid systematic literature review (Semester 1 and 2) and a research proposal incorporating an ethical approvation applications for a linked piece of independent research requiring data collection and analysis (Semester 2). The systematic literature review element of the module delivers specific skills of value to business students in addition to the research skills noted above, specifically critical thinking and reasoning, and critical appraisal (Briner and Walshe, 2014).

Module Level Learning Outcomes:

By the end of this module, participants will be able to

  • LO1 Demonstrate the capacity to understand, assess and address social and environmental challenges locally and globally
  • LO2 Present Work in Progress, accept and evaluate peer and module leader feedback and integrate as appropriate.
  • LO3 Demonstrate the ability to analyse and integrate key findings from research through design and execution of a systematic literature review
  • LO4 Identify approaches to formulating and clarifying a research topic and developing a research proposal to undertake independent social innovation research in a management discipline.

Relation to Degree:

While some of the theoretical social innovation content of this course will be new to business studies students, the module is integrative of the study of organizations and management that participants have developed over the previous three years and during their Senior Sophister year module facilitates students to carry out independent research in a management discipline in the field of social innovation. 

Textbooks and Required Resources:

Required core course textbook(s):

Whole Year - Boland, A., Cherry, G. and R. Dickson (eds.) (2017). Doing a Systematic Literature Review: A Student’s Guide. (€24 ebook, €28 paperback; multiple copies available in Library – will announce once available to borrow)

Second half of Second Semester - Saunders, M., Lewis, P. and Thornhill, A. (2015) Research Methods for Business Students, 7th Edition, Harlow, England, UK: Financial Times/Prentice Hall. ISBN13:9781292016627 (While the required readings from this text are provided on Blackboard, this is an excellent text that is worth investing in if you are planning to go further with management research, for example a Masters degree).

General Supplement Readings:

There are a range of readings drawn from relevant academic and ‘grey’ literature which will be provided to students via the Blackboard site.


The Business Library Resource Pages are accessible at https://libguides.tcd.ie/c.php?g=667784&p=4736268 – I recommend you familiarise yourself with the resources and avail of the supports for business students.

Student Preparation Module:

The main preparation for the module is the completion of the Business programme to date, coupled with an interest in the theory and the practice of the social innovation, and undertaking independent research.

You are expected to attend and participate in the weekly seminars. Attendance, participation and Presentation accounts for 25% of your final mark in this capstone.

Course Communication:

Please note that all course related email communication must be sent from your official TCD email address.

All module materials (seminar slides, readings, assignments, etc.) will be available on Blackboard and students will be required to submit their graded assignments, as well as any in-class assignments, through Blackboard.  Questions regarding module assignments, test or other requirements must be posted on the designated discussion board to facilitate group communication and learning.  Emails to the lecturer’s direct email address should only be for arrangement of a one to one meetings, or questions of personal relevance to the student.



Weighting per Assessment

1. Semester 1 - Semester Participation and Presentation


2. Semester 1 - Systematic Literature Review Part 1


3. Semester 2 - Semester Participation and Presentation


4. Semester 2 - Systematic Literature Review Part 2


5. Semester 2 - Research Proposal and Ethical Approval Application


Assignment details provided in the first scheduled seminar of the module.

Late Submission Policy:

Unexcused assignments submitted after the designated submission deadline may be penalised by 10% of the grade awarded for each working day late, or part thereof.  Assignments beyond 5 days late will not be accepted.  In the event of a non-medical reason for non-submission of a term-assignment a student should consult with and receive prior approval from the lecturer concerned. Students unable to submit a term assignment for medical reasons must produce a medical certificate to the School of Business Studies office within three working days of the missed submission date. Certificates received after that time will not be accepted.

Supplement Assessment:

Students who fail the module and are permitted to submit a supplemental assessment by the Court of Examiners will have to resubmit their independent research project, with an added appendix addressing SI questions set by the course lecturer.