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BUSN603 Corporate Governance and Risk Management

Teaching organisation

3 hours per week for twelve weeks or equivalent.

Unit rationale, description and aim

Effective organisational governance is essential to ensure socially responsible, sustainable not-for-profit organisations. It is a discipline that has changed dramatically over the past two decades and which continues to evolve. This unit explores the contemporary governance of community and not-for-profit organisations from multiple perspectives: ethically, practically and in a global setting. It introduces contemporary thinking about governance and its role in determining the direction and control of organisations. This is done against a background of current theories of organisational governance. It explains the legal foundations of governance, the roles of regulators, particularly the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission and elaborates the central functions of governing bodies with emphasis on their roles in strategy development, oversight of the CEO, financial and non-financial control, risk management, compliance and policy development. Practical advice is provided on all aspects of conducting the modern not-for-profit board including board size, director selection and conducting board meetings. The aim of the unit is to provide students with the theoretical knowledge and practical skills to ensure effective governance in a not for profit organisation.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Apply contemporary approaches to organisational governance in a workplace to ensure effective stewardship of the organisation (GA3, GA5) 

LO2 - Examine the role of a director/governor in community and not-for-profit organisations including the application of best governance practices and board meeting processes at the national and global levels (GA5, GA6) 

LO3 - Apply contemporary strategic, risk management and compliance processes in the governance of community and not-for-profit organisations (GA5, GA8) 

LO4 - Critically evaluate the challenges facing governance in community and not-for-profit organisations and propose creative and responsible solutions to contemporary challenges (GA4, GA6) 

Graduate attributes

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 


Topics will include but are not limited to: 

  • The nature of community and not-for-profit organisations and their contributions to the wider community  
  • Understanding organisational governance including models and theories of governance 
  • Governance roles and responsibilities including board structure and composition 
  • Legal aspects of governance 
  • The relationship between the board and the chief executive officer (CEO) 
  • Strategic direction and the role of the directors/governors and the management of enterprise risk  
  • Board effectiveness dynamics and the stewardship of the organisation
  • Board processes - new directors, onboarding and socialisation
  • The implications of the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) movement for the sustainability of not-for-profit organisations 
  • Ethical issues in not-for-profit-governance. 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit uses an active learning approach to help students explore and understand different aspects of effective governance practice. Students are required to attend intensive executive workshops to participate in the construction and synthesis of this knowledge with other students so as to develop a level of understanding sufficient to assess various ethical aspects of today’s business and how effective governance contributes to organisational and social outcomes. This approach is designed to appeal to students with a preference for learning within a physical social environment and allows for essential skill development with expert support. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

A primary goal of the unit’s assessment is to assess each student’s level of learning via individual and group-based tasks where different aspects of ethical and sustainable leadership are discussed. In order to successfully complete this unit, students need to complete three pieces of summative assessment. In addition to this, students must obtain an aggregate mark of 50% or greater. All pieces of assessment must be submitted. 

The assessment strategy used allows students to progressively develop their knowledge and skills to the level of sophistication where they are able to contribute to and engage with not for profit organisations at the strategic and governance levels.  

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1: Practical Report

This assessment task consists of a 1500 word written report. This task requires students to analyse the 8 Good Governance Principles and determine how the governance board could ensure management adherence through practical means while considering the stewardship responsibility of the board. This assessment would provide an opportunity to align findings to students’ own organisation or one in which they are familiar with.

Submission Type: Individual

Assessment Method: Practical Report

Artefact: Report


LO1, LO2 

GA3, GA5, GA6 

Assessment Task 2: Group Presentation

This assessment consists of a 15 minute group presentation in addition to a written script. Working collaboratively, this assessment requires students to analyse, evaluate and apply the topic of the allocated week to a given workplace. Students are to make recommendations to enhance the board processes using knowledge gained in this unit.

Submission Type: Group

Assessment Method: Presentation / Script

Artefact: Presentation / written script


LO3, LO4 

GA4, GA5, GA8 

Assessment Task 3 Critical Report

This assessment task consists of a1500 word written paper. This task requires students to analyse, evaluate and apply a governance knowledge on a given case study. This is an individual case study designed to give students practical experience as a board member in planning, evaluation of risks and policy needed to ensure sustainability.

Submission Type: Individual

Assessment Method: Critical Report

Artefact: Report


LO1, LO3

GA3, GA5, GA8

Representative texts and references

Browning, P.C. and Sparks, W.L. 2016. The Director's Manual: A Framework for Board Governance. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. eBook available

Du Plessis, J.J., Hargovan, A., Bagaric, M. & Harris, J. 2018, Principles of Contemporary Corporate Governance, 4th edn. Cambridge and Port Melbourne, Vic: Cambridge University Press.  

Kiel, G., Nicholson, G., Tunny, J. & Beck, J. 2018. Reviewing Your Board: A Guide to Board and Director Evaluation. Sydney: Australian Institute of Company Directors.  

Kiel, G., Nicholson, G., Tunny, J. A. & Beck, J. 2016. Directors at Work: A Practical Guide for Boards. 2nd edn. Pearson Education Inc Old Tappan New Jersey

 Kiel, G., Nicholson, G. Tunny, J & Beck, J 2020. Directors at work, Thomson Reuters


Larcker, D. & B. Tayan. 2016. Corporate Governance Matters, 2nd edn. Upper Saddle River, NJ: FT Press. 

Leblanc, R. ed. 2016. The Handbook of Board Governance: A Comprehensive Guide for Public, Private, and Not-for-Profit Board Members. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 

Mallin, C. A. 2016. Corporate Governance, 5th edn. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 

Tricker, B. 2019. Corporate Governance: Principles, Policies, and Practices, 4th edn. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 

Articles from the Australian Institute of Company Directions – Not For Profit

Appointing a new director Role of the board

Board committees Role of the board

Reporting to the board Role of the board

Letter of appointment Role of the board

Social enterprise Role of the board

Audit committee charter Role of the board

Audit committee charter Role of the board file:///F:/2020%2060%20unitsl/New%20GUO/05446-7-5-2-NFP-Director-Tools-Audit-commitee_A4_WEB%20(1).PDF

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