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BUSO Degree Options & Requirements

The BA and the Honours BA programs in Business and Society (BUSO) provide the opportunity to study the impact of business on society and society on business. Students who enrol in Business and Society will undertake this study through a multi-disciplinary approach, using texts from philosophy, history, economics, geography, sociology and political science. The program combines courses that provide the analytical tools necessary to study and research business and society with courses that focus on the political, social, and cultural context of business.

Beyond choosing to study Business & Society, you’ve got the option to customize how you study. You can choose the length and depth of specialization within your degree — whether it’s a three-year bachelor’s or more intensive four-year honours bachelor’s program. Then you get to select two of six possible streams to specialize in. Whatever path you envision, you’ll have choices to accommodate you along the way.

Not sure which courses you need to enrol in to complete the requirements for your degree? The checklists below are intended as guides to help you select which courses you need to take.


Choose the checklist for the year you began your study. These checklists do not provide official confirmation of your eligibility to graduate. To find out which courses you have already completed toward your degree, use the Degree Progress Report. For more help, contact your academic advisor.

Requirements for All Students

Core Courses

The core of the program consists of four courses:

  • Microeconomics
  • Macroeconomics
  • Introduction to Business and Society
  • Intermediate Business and Society

Within the core courses, capitalist business practices are critically examined, and a variety of responses and alternatives to these impacts are explored. The program core achieves this through four general areas of analysis:

  1. Modern economic history
  2. Ethics and normative philosophy
  3. Social scientific analysis
  4. Globalization

Select Two Specialized Streams

In the streams, students specialize in the relations between and impact of business on an aspect of the social world.

Students must choose two of the following areas of specialization:

In the Social Economy stream, students examine a wide variety of business forms that share a common characteristic of being guided not primarily by profits but by a social purpose. While there are many different ways to define the social economy, this sector is generally understood to include co-operatives, non-profit businesses, not-for-profit firms, social enterprises, and social entrepreneurs.

In examining these forms of business, students will focus not only on operations at the level of the firm but also on the relationships among such firms. Such relationships include traditional community economic development organizations, efforts to form cooperative groups, alternative and fair trade networks as well as alternative and endogenous development models.

Note: Successful completion of SOSC 1341 is a prerequisite for enrolment in SOSC 3041.

For the Honours program

This stream provides students with the opportunity to study the role of law in the formation and current development of the market economy. It seeks to acquaint students with the place of the law in the broader institutional framework that governs modern markets.

Students will learn how legal rules and policies mediate in determining both the trade-off between efficiency and equity and the extent to which government intervention is needed in the governance of markets. Drawing on an interdisciplinary perspective, students will study important areas of law and policy such as corporate law, corporate governance and corporate social responsibility, consumer protection law, tort law and accident prevention, property rights, intellectual property rights, antitrust, international trade law, public goods and environmental law.

No previous work in law or economics is required, but students are expected to master some basic legal and economic concepts and ideas. Courses in this stream may use some legal materials such as court decisions or legislation only to introduce or illustrate the legal subjects. No detailed analysis of these materials is expected.

This stream will be very useful for those wishing to study of law, economics or business in the future and/or to pursue a career working for the government, a regulatory agency or non-governmental organization (NGO).

For the Honours program:

In the Business Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility (BE) stream, students take up three fundamental questions:

  • The first of these explores what types of BE program corporations have and why they have developed such programs (for example, stakeholder pressure, niche markets, regulatory pressure, etc.). Students explore this question not only at at the level of individual firms, but also with regard to different economic sectors and national contexts.  A key part of this analysis entails the interplay between corporations and civil society movements (for example, environmental NGOs, worker rights NGOs, fair trade movements, etc.) which seek to influence the behaviour of corporations with respect to environmental sustainability, labour and human rights, local development aspirations, etc. In this way students are able to investigate how the BE program functions in relationship to the larger national and global political economy.
  • The second question that students explore in this field relates to how we evaluate corporate behaviour in general and the BE program in particular. This involves the development of ethical standards (and democratic principles) for evaluating corporate behaviour and the application of such standards in complex circumstances.
  • The third question that students examine in this field is the actual impact of the BE program and, more specifically, what can be done to promote greater corporate responsibility. Again, such analysis occurs not only at the level of individual firms, but also examines sectoral, national and international initiatives. Such initiatives can be led by any of several different actors, including corporations themselves, NGOs, local communities and international organizations.


Note: Successful completion of AP/SOSC 2340 6.00 (or AP/SOSC 2349 6.00) is a prerequisite for enrolling in AP/SOSC 3046 6.00.

For the Honours program

Note: Successful completion of AP/SOSC 2340 6.00 (or AP/SOSC 2349 6.00) is a prerequisite for enrolling in AP/SOSC 4044 6.00.

This stream introduces students to a variety of theoretical perspectives on political economy and the study of the institutions, structures, and political, economic and social relations that underlie both national and global political economies. Students will be introduced to the classical foundations of political economy (Smith, Ricardo, Mill and Marx) as well as contemporary theoretical frameworks or "schools" of political economy (liberal, institutionalist and radical).

This theoretical foundation will enable students to critically investigate the functioning of the international economy. Students will examine the origins, functions and development of the major international economic bodies, especially the so-called Bretton Woods institutions (the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and the General Agreement on Tariffs & Trade/ World Trade Organization), and how they integrate national economies into the international economy. Students will also study major regional economic institutions and agreements (e.g., the European Economic Community/European Union, the North American Free Trade Agreement, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum).

In this stream, students will pay particular attention to recent trends in the international economy over the last few decades which have involved an increasing "globalization" of production, trade and finance. Students will analyze the nature of these changes, in particular the "neo-liberal" form that they have taken, and the economic, political, social and environmental impacts that they have had.

Students will also investigate resistance to the "neo-liberal" model of globalization and efforts to develop alternative forms of production and regulation. In this context, students will be encouraged to evaluate different economic policies, practices, institutions and models with regard to a range of criteria including efficiency, fairness and sustainability.

This stream will be particularly useful to students who wish to pursue careers in public policy and/or graduate studies in the areas of political science, international political economy, labour studies or international development studies.

Note: successful completion of AP/SOSC 1340 6.00 is prerequisite of entry into AP/SOSC 3042 3.00

For the Honours program

In the Environment stream students develop an awareness of the relationship between business, society and the environment. This stream builds upon required courses offered by York University's groundbreaking Environmental studies program (such as Perspectives in Environmental Studies and Foundations in Environment and Culture) allowing students a choice in their senior year's courses such as Environmental Law, Environmental Policy or Resource Management. Students will engage with a variety of perspectives on the environment and will learn about cutting edge issues in the field.

The honours options in the Environment stream offer students unique opportunities to perform research in the community and to study economic organizations that are attempting to incorporate environmental principles into their business functions.

This stream is recommended for those interested in future careers in environmental policy, environmental consulting, and graduate work in Environmental Studies or Geography. It also forms a good basis for future education in Environmental Law or Resource Management.

  • EU/ENVS 2000 6.00 or EU/ENVS 2400 6.00; N.B. EUC/ENVS 2000 and EUC/ENVS 2400 are not offered in 2023-24. Students in the Environment stream in Business & Society may take 6 credits from any of the following courses (subject to availability) in 2023-2024:
    • EU/ENVS 2327 3.00
    • EU/ENVS 2403 3.00
    • EU/ENVS 2410 3.00
    • EU/ENVS 2510 3.00

For the Honours program: six credits chosen from:

The Firm and Organization stream examines various aspects of the modern corporation, both its internal organization and its relationship with organizations in the national and international society in which corporations operate.

Courses offered in this stream will focus on the manner in which work and workers are organized within and without the corporation, and on the circumstances under which the relation between owners, managers and workers are more or less adversarial. There is a particular focus on how the organization of the corporation is affected by and, in turn, affects gender disparities in society. Issues of corporate governance and regulation also form part of the focus of this stream.

This stream would be a good choice for those students who aim to work in the corporate world, though it should be stressed that none of the stream's courses are aimed to equip students with concrete skills of the corporate workplace.

Note: Successful completion of AP/SOSC 1340 6.00 is prerequisite of entry into AP/SOSC 3043 3.00 & AP/SOSC 3045 3.00

For the Honours program

Statistics Requirement

All BUSO students must complete any 3.0 credits statistics course. SC/MATH 1532 3.0 is the recommended stats course for BUSO students. Check course descriptions carefully for course credit exclusions to avoid duplicating course work. Below is a list of alternative STATS courses:

  • SC/MATH 1131 3.0
  • AP/ECON 2500 3.0
  • HH/PSYC 2020 3.0
  • HH/PSYC 2021 6.0
  • SC/MATH 2560 3.0
  • SC/BIOL 2060 3.0
  • SC/GEOG 2420 3.0
  • SC/KINE 2050 3.0
  • AP/POLS/SOCI 3300 6.0
  • AP/ADMS 2310 3.0

Important Notes

  • In core and stream courses, students are strongly recommended to take courses in ascending level. i.e., 1000-level before 2000-level courses, 2000-level before 3000-level courses, etc.
  • Prerequisites for courses must be met. Check course descriptions carefully for prerequisite requirements.
  • Any course substitution requires the prior approval of the Program Coordinator.
  • Students may not ‘double count’ the same course for credit in both a stream and in the program core.
  • General Education courses [9 credits courses] count as 6.0 credits towards core/stream requirement; 3.0 credits towards electives.
  • Students who are starting the Business & Society Program in September 2023 should enrol in either Section A or Section B of SOSC 1340 9.0 Introduction to Business & Society. Please do not enrol in SOSC 1340 6.0 Section M, which we are reserving for new admissions in Winter 2024. Completing SOSC 1340 9.0 Section A or Section B will fulfil the core requirement in BUSO Program but it will not count as a general education course for majors in Business & Society.