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2021/2022  KAN-CCMVV4059U  Circular Economies: Towards a global shift?

English Title
Circular Economies: Towards a global shift?

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Quarter
Start time of the course Second Quarter
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Max. participants 80
Study board
Study Board for MSc in Economics and Business Administration
Course coordinator
  • Martin Skrydstrup - Department of Management, Society and Communication (MSC)
This elective course is one of three courses, which form an integrated curriculum for the CBS Minor in Circular Economy.
Main academic disciplines
  • CSR and sustainability
  • Globalisation and international business
  • Intercultural studies
Teaching methods
  • Online teaching
Last updated on 10-09-2021

Relevant links

Learning objectives
To achieve the grade 12, students should meet the following learning objectives with no or only minor mistakes:
  • Understand the coming into being of the circular economy; its current contestations and future directions, as well as its alternatives and critics.
  • Know the core concepts of circular economies and apply these to an independently chosen live case.
  • Identify a circular product/service and evaluate its metrics and marketing qualities.
  • Know the different approaches to governing circularity in a global perspective and critically assess gaps between their intent and implementation.
  • Gain experience in mapping, evaluating and conceptualizing a specific circular intervention or circular value proposal of a client and/or organization.
  • Develop and strengthen your creativity to think inside and outside the loop in a team, harnessing you research, communication, writing and presentation skills.
Prerequisites for registering for the exam (activities during the teaching period)
Number of compulsory activities which must be approved (see section 13 of the Programme Regulations): 1
Compulsory home assignments
The student must get 1 out of 2 home assignments approved in order to attend the ordinary exam.
1) Synopsis/Proposal for live case study
2) Summary/Annotated bibliography of scientific articles relevant for your live case study, which are not listed on the syllabus

These assignments are individual or collective (2-4 students). I strongly suggest that that the composition of the assignment group match the composition of your exam group. The format is maximum 3 pages per student and minimum 1,5 page per student. The feedback will be channeled via a virtual platform, such as Peergrade or other suited devices.

The student will not have extra attempts to get the required number of compulsory activities approved prior to the ordinary exam. If the student has not received approval for the required number of compulsory activities or has been ill, the student cannot participate in ordinary exam. Prior to the retake the student will be given an extra attempt..The extra attempt is a 10 page home assignment that will cover the required number of compulsory activities. If approved, the student will be able to attend retake. Please note that students must have made an effort in the allocated assignments thoughout the course. Students that do not participate in the assignments (no show/U) are not entitled to the extra assignment and will have to wait until the next ordinary exam to complete the course.
Circular economies - towards a global shift?:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Oral exam based on written product

In order to participate in the oral exam, the written product must be handed in before the oral exam; by the set deadline. The grade is based on an overall assessment of the written product and the individual oral performance, see also the rules about examination forms in the programme regulations.
Individual or group exam Oral group exam based on written group product
Number of people in the group 2-4
Size of written product Max. 20 pages
Definition of the requirements for number of pages:
2 students 10 pages max.
3 students 15 pages max
4 students 20 pages max

Note that the exam is a group exam. If you are not able to find a group yourself, you have to address the course coordinator, who will place you in a group.

Students who wish to write an individual seminar paper and have an individual exam might be able to be accommodated. Please consult with the course coordinator and see the cand.merc. rules for term papers for more information.
Assignment type Written assignment
Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
15 min. per student, including examiners' discussion of grade, and informing plus explaining the grade
Grading scale 7-point grading scale
Examiner(s) Internal examiner and second internal examiner
Exam period Winter
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
*If the student fails the ordinary exam the course coordinator chooses whether the student will have to hand in a revised product for the re- take or a new project.
Description of the exam procedure

The written asignment must be handed in by the set deadline. The grade realized is based on an overall assessment of the written products and the oral performance.

Course content, structure and pedagogical approach

Course content and structure

Of late, Google, Apple, H&M, Unilever, IKEA, Coca-Cola, Carlsberg, Renault and Philips – just to name the more conspicuous - have all pledged a firm commitment to the circular economy. But what is the circular economy? How is it different from the linear economy? And how much of the global economy has gone circular?


In the linear economy, businesses extract materials, use them to manufacture products and then sell those to consumers, who most often discard these, when they no longer are of service. Such a linear economy extracts resources at increasing rates – currently humanity uses resources that would require 1,5 Planet Earths to keep up each year – without consideration of the environment in which it operates. Of late, a new geological term has emerged to describe the environmental consequences of the linear economy: The Anthropocene. This term implies that in our time, humanity is the decisive factor in shaping the natural environment. A critical component of the Anthropocene is our current patterns of production and consumption, i.e. the Take-Make-Waste approach of the linear economy. Most agree that this cannot continue indefinitely and that business as usual is not an option in the Anthropocene.


The concept of the circular economy promises a way out. Here products do not become waste. The circular economy promises to keep products and goods at their highest utility and value at all times and is restorative and regenerative by design. Services and goods are distributed and shared in new and innovative ways without compromising the functioning of the biosphere. The common point of departure for the many ideas clustered under the rubric of “circular economy” is to optimize the flow of resources and retain those in loops without leaks. The rationale is to lower resource use and waste and build smarter governance of natural capital. A key tenet of the circular economy builds on the notion that there is no waste in nature. The ideal would be an economy fueled by solar energy, where nothing is wasted and secondary materials keep circulating in loops, so we do not need to extract primary materials. A key objective of the course is to explore if this is possible.


Attracting increased attention from governments, businesses and civil society, the circular economy is an emerging field of study, where we will cover a range of critical questions from conceptual issues of first and second order to hands-on practical perspectives: What is the relationship between the circular economy and growth? Who (business leaders, industrial designers, NGOs, social entrepreneurs, etc.) venture into the spaces of circular economy? What might their business models look like? How is environmental impact of production and consumption measured and assessed? How circular is the global economy? Can circularity be governed? And does circular economy create value and prosperity for the current generation that is not at the expense of the opportunities for future generations?




Description of the teaching methods
The teaching is a careful combination of live online sessions with student preparations and discussions and pre-recorded sessions. The assigned readings for the lectures will be highlighted and explained during the classes.
Feedback during the teaching period
Feedback will be provided as a response to the one-page case proposal, which is due after lecture 4. Additional feedback is provided to online presentations of group works and discussions.

Student workload
Lectures & Preparation 100 hours
Written Assignment 50 hours
Exploring your own circular case 36 hours
Exams 20 hours
Expected literature

The primary literature for the course will be a collection of research articles published in the leading scholarly journals, supplemented with case studies drawn from Harvard Business Review. The specific selection of these articles will be introduced in the first class. Below, you will find recommend secondary text books for the course.


M. Brandão, David Lazarevic, and Göran Finnveden (ed.) Handbook of the Circular Economy (Edward Elgar Publishing: 2020)


C. Weetman A Circular Economy Handbook for Business and Supply Chains (Kogan Page:2020).


R. De Angelis Business Models in the Circular Economy: Concepts, Examples and Theory (Palgrave: 2018)


Michael Braungart & William McDonough From Cradle to Cradle: Re-Making the Way We Make Things (Vintage: [1988] 2009)


Ellen MacArthur Full Circle: My life and Journey (Michael Joseph: 2010)

---- Taking on the World: A Sailor’s Extraordinary Solo Race Around the Globe (McGraw-Hill: 2003)


Ken Webster (2017). The circular economy – A wealth of flows (Ellen MacArthur Foundation Publishing, 2nd Edition: 2017)


Walter R. Stahel The Circular Economy: A User’s Guide (Routledge: 2019)


Peter Lacy & Jakob Rutqvist Waste to Wealth: The Circular Economy Advantage (Palgrave: 2015)


And here are two important secondary research articles for the class:


Terence Tse, M. Esposito, K. Soufani: “Introducing a Circular Economy: New Thinking with Managerial and Policy Implications”, California Management Review, 2018, Vol 60 (3), p. 5-19.


Murray, A., Skene, K., & Haynes, K. (2017). The circular economy: An interdisciplinary exploration of the concept and application in a global context. Journal of Business Ethics, 140(3), 369–380.

Last updated on 10-09-2021