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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Edinburgh Futures Institute : Edinburgh Futures Institute

Postgraduate Course: Circular Economy in Business (fusion online) (EFIE11152)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh Futures Institute CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
Course typeOnline Distance Learning AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThe climate crisis is a significant strategic challenge for businesses, creating risks but also opportunities. This course will examine how adopting or adapting to a circular economy model can create opportunities for businesses to address the climate crisis. It will also address how both start-ups and established businesses can design or redesign their operations in a way that is in keeping with the circular economy. Using case studies and guest speakers from successful CE businesses around the world, the course will explore how to build CE into a business strategy as well as the interconnected CE opportunities between multiple businesses and industries.
Course description Addressing the climate crisis requires investment and leadership from business sectors across the globe. How do businesses adapt to or adopt the circular economic model? This course will examine how start-ups and established businesses (large and small) can rethink their way of producing or providing a service that is in keeping with the circular economy. Using case studies, plus contributions and guest speakers from successful CE businesses, the course will explore how to build CE into a business strategy as well as the interconnected CE opportunities for businesses and industries.

The aims of this course are to provide you with the opportunity to discover, analyse, and communicate the opportunities a circular economy can bring to the business world. You will explore the various circular business models and how CE can be integrated into a business strategy. The lecture materials, in-class activities, and discussions will be grouped around these key topics:

- How to accelerate a business' transition from a linear to a circular way of working.
- Building a circular economy into a business strategy.
- In-depth exploration of circular business models, including design innovation, process innovation, re-engineering, and material innovation and/or substitution.
- How CE models fit different industry or business sectors: there is no 'one size fits all' approach.

You can expect interactive assessment-based activities and discussions, a wide range of case studies to draw from, and opportunities to engage in practical applications of the material covered. Throughout the course, there will be autonomous discussion boards available via Learn for students to discuss readings, etc.

Edinburgh Futures Institute (EFI) - Online Fusion Course Delivery Information:

The Edinburgh Futures Institute will teach this course in a way that enables online and on-campus students to study together. This approach (our 'fusion' teaching model) offers students flexible and inclusive ways to study, and the ability to choose whether to be on-campus or online at the level of the individual course. It also opens up ways for diverse groups of students to study together regardless of geographical location. To enable this, the course will use technologies to record and live-stream student and staff participation during their teaching and learning activities. Students should note that their interactions may be recorded and live-streamed. There will, however, be options to control whether or not your video and audio are enabled.

As part of your course, you will need access to a personal computing device. Unless otherwise stated activities will be web browser based and as a minimum we recommend a device with a physical keyboard and screen that can access the internet.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Lecture Hours 6, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 2, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 1, Summative Assessment Hours 1, Other Study Hours 6, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 82 )
Additional Information (Learning and Teaching) Other Study: Scheduled Group-work Hours (hybrid online/on-campus) - 6
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Summative Assessment:

Design/Redesign for the Circular Economy (Group Project) (100%)

This assignment is a chance for your group to become entrepreneurs and innovate to break the linear cycle. You have been given the opportunity to pitch your circular economy product/business idea to a funder, The Circular Fund (fictional, but based on real CE funds), with the chance to start-up money for your new business. This is your chance to think creatively and experience what entrepreneurs around the world have do to get the chance make their business ideas a reality. For this assignment, your group will take a familiar product, material, or system and meaningfully improve and/or redesign the circularity of its lifecycle.

The assessment is made up of the following two elements:

- An oral (video) business 'elevator' pitch by selected members of the group. This is designed to mimic the type of pitch entrepreneurs are often required to give to investors/funders. The pitch will be a succinct 5-minute (max) presentation, with no more than 4 slides (if used).

- A written business proposal: a clear, well-argued, and detailed paper of a creative and ambitious development of a circular lifecycle for a product/system. This will be written in the style of a business proposal (an example outline will be provided).

Assessments Components:

1) Group CE Business Proposal Report (80%)

A written report (max 2500 words) [Learning Outcomes 1, 2, 4]

2) Peer Assessment (20%)

Peer moderation, for participation/collaboration in group work, using WebPA or similar.
Feedback Three types of feedback will be incorporated in the course:

1) Formative feedback from the pitching panel (consisting of academics as well as CE industry/ funding representatives) on each group's practice business pitch presented during 2-day intensive or submitted asynchronously to the pitching panel, giving the groups an opportunity to incorporate feedback into their final proposal and video pitch.

2) Business Proposal paper: summative feedback after hand-in.

3) Peer feedback from peer moderation.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate a critical understanding of the business landscapes in which a circular economy could operate, including different business scenarios and sectors.
  2. Identify circular economy opportunities for individual businesses and products.
  3. Communicate circular economy business ideas to a range of audiences with different levels of knowledge/ expertise.
  4. Work with others to develop new thinking for CE in a business scenario.
Reading List

Geissdoerfer, et. al. (2018) 'Business models and supply chains for the circular economy'. Journal of Cleaner Production, 190, Pp.712 - 721.

Lacy, Peter & Rutkvist, Jakob (2015) From Waste to Wealth: the Circular Economy Advantage. 'Chapter 9: Circular Business Models: Evaluation, Enablers, and Ecosystems'. Palgrave Macmillan UK.

Lacy, P. et. al (2020) Selected chapters from: The Circular Economy Handbook: Realising the Circular Advantage.

Sillanpää, Mika & Ncibi, Chaker (2019) Circular Economy: Case Studies about the Transition from the Linear Economy. Academic Press, Elsevier. (Selected Chapters 4, 5, 10)
Ellen MacArthur Foundation (2015). 'Towards a Circular Economy: Business Rationale for an Accelerated Transition.'


Bauwens, T.J.F., et. al. (2019). 'Disruptors: How Circular Start-ups Can Accelerate the Circular Economy Transition'. Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO).

Kirchherr, J. et al. (2018) 'Barriers to the Circular Economy: Evidence From the European Union,' Ecological Economics, 150, pp. 264-272.

OECD (2019) Business Models for the Circular Economy: Opportunities and Challenges for Policy. OECD Publishing, Paris.

Yamaguchi, S. et. al. (2018) 'International Trade and the Transition to a More Resource Efficient and Circular Economy'. OECD Trade and Environment Working Papers, Vol.2018 (3), pp.1-22. DOI: 10.1787/847feb24-en.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Research & Enquiry (problem solving)
- Identify and evaluate circular economy business options and opportunities in order to solve complex business problems.

Communication (written):
- To be able to communicate complex business ideas and critiques in writing.

Communication (Verbal communication and presentation):
- Articulate and effectively explain CE business opportunities to an informed audience.

Personal effectiveness (team working):
- An ability to work collaboratively with people from a range of cultures and backgrounds. Acquire skills for working in teams and groups, and leading where appropriate.

Personal effectiveness (enterprise):
- Ability to demonstrate an innovative approach, creativity, collaboration and risk taking for novel circular economy business ideas.
KeywordsEFI,Level 11,PG,Circular Economy,Business,Business Strategy,Sustainability
Course organiserMs Toni Freitas
Course secretaryMiss Veronica Silvestre
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