Course Syllabus

Welcome to Course Number: PRDV231: Elements of Ethical Leadership

Specific information about this course and its requirements can be found below. For more general information about taking Saylor Academy courses, including information about Community and Academic Codes of Conduct, please read the Student Handbook.

Course Description

Study how our culture views and values the ideas, qualities, and ideals of ethical leadership. Consider the essential qualities of good leadership: honesty, moral courage and moral vision, compassion, fairness, intellectual excellence and willingness to listen to others, creative thinking, aesthetic sensitivity, good timing, and selflessness.

Course Introduction

What does it mean to be an ethical leader? In this course, we study how our culture views and values individuals who represent the ideas, qualities, and ideals of ethical leadership. We begin by exploring the classical Greek philosophical tradition of virtuous leadership in accordance with Plato's Four Cardinal Virtues and Aristotle's views on leadership and virtue. These virtue-based approaches to moral leadership provide a framework we can use to identify the characteristics or qualities of a virtuous and ethical leader: someone who lives a virtuous and ethical life based on leadership and service.

Next, we investigate ways we have applied and interpreted the classical Greek virtues across time and culture. We explore how cultures conceptualize the virtuous leader. How does culture change and preserve the concept? Finally, we consider the traits or essential qualities for good leadership: honesty, moral courage and moral vision (these two concepts are combined into one), compassion, fairness, intellectual excellence and willingness to listen to others, creative thinking, aesthetic sensitivity, good timing, and selflessness.

This course includes the following units:

  • Unit 1: The Classical Virtues of Leadership
  • Unit 2: Perspectives on Leadership
  • Unit 3: Characteristics of an Ethical or Virtuous Leader

Course Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • discuss the classical virtues of leadership according to Plato and Aristotle;
  • critique cultural ideals of leadership considering the classical virtues; and
  • compare modern approaches to virtuous and ethical leadership and the classical Greek approach.

Throughout this course, you will also see learning outcomes in each unit. You can use those learning outcomes to help organize your studies and gauge your progress.

Course Materials

The primary learning materials for this course are readings, lectures, and videos.

All course materials are free to access, and can be found in each unit of the course. Pay close attention to the notes that accompany these course materials, as they will tell you what to focus on in each resource, and will help you to understand how the learning materials fit into the course as a whole. You can also see a list of all the learning materials in this course by clicking on Resources in the navigation bar.

Evaluation and Minimum Passing Score

Only the final exam is considered when awarding you a grade for this course. In order to pass this course, you will need to earn a 70% or higher on the final exam. Your score on the exam will be calculated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam on your first try, you may take it again as many times as you want, with a 7-day waiting period between each attempt. Once you have successfully passed the final exam you will be awarded a free Course Completion Certificate.

Tips for Success

PRDV231: Elements of Ethical Leadership is a self-paced course, which means that you can decide when you will start and when you will complete the course. There is no instructor or set schedule to follow. We estimate that the "average" student will take 8 hours to complete this course. We recommend that you work through the course at a pace that is comfortable for you and allows you to make regular progress. It's a good idea to also schedule your study time in advance and try as best as you can to stick to that schedule.

Learning new material can be challenging, so we've compiled a few study strategies to help you succeed:

  • Take notes on the various terms, practices, and theories that you come across. This can help you put each concept into context, and will create a refresher that you can use as you study later on.
  • As you work through the materials, take some time to test yourself on what you remember and how well you understand the concepts. Reflecting on what you've learned is important for your long-term memory, and will make you more likely to retain information over time.

Technical Requirements

This course is delivered entirely online. You will be required to have access to a computer or web-capable mobile device and have consistent access to the internet to either view or download the necessary course resources and to attempt any auto-graded course assessments and the final exam.

  • To access the full course including assessments and the final exam, you will need to be logged into your Saylor Academy account and enrolled in the course. If you do not already have an account, you may create one for free here. Although you can access some of the course without logging in to your account, you should log in to maximize your course experience. For example, you cannot take assessments or track your progress unless you are logged in.

For additional guidance, check out Saylor Academy's FAQ.


This course is entirely free to enroll in and to access. Everything linked in the course, including textbooks, videos, webpages, and activities, are all available for no charge. This course also contains a free final exam and course completion certificate.

Last modified: Thursday, January 21, 2021, 3:40 PM