There is a growing demand for governments, businesses, and NGOs to put people and their wellbeing at the heart of policy design, as evidenced by calls from the OECD and the European Commission, as well as various national initiatives around the world.
In the UK, the recent Levelling Up White Paper states that greater wellbeing, in every area of the UK, is the overall objective of UK Government. At the same time, while research across behavioural science is advancing our understanding of what drives human behaviour, the role of wellbeing both as an input into and as a result of behavioural public policies has been underexplored. What is more, there exists little guidance or formal training in wellbeing and wellbeing policy-making.
The Wellbeing specialism of the MSc in Behavioural Science addresses these gaps, catering to the increasing demand by governments and organisations in all sectors for analysts with a rigorous training in both behavioural science and wellbeing. It is unique, being the first comprehensive training in the science of wellbeing and its application to policy design, appraisal, and evaluation. Our objective is to educate students to help create a happier society.
Building on the content and quantitative methods learned in the core curriculum of the MSc in Behavioural Science, students in the Wellbeing specialism learn about wellbeing as a measure of welfare, including different concepts such as evaluations and experiences, behavioural scientific phenomena unique to wellbeing such as adaptation to changing life circumstances, our tendency to make mistakes and mispredict what actually makes us happy, relative comparisons (or jealousy), and how happiness differs between individuals and societies. Importantly, students then learn how to apply these insights to policy design, appraisal, and evaluation. They are being familiarised with wellbeing theories and frameworks, the empirical evidence on the causes and consequences of wellbeing, survey design and data, and methods for wellbeing policy appraisal and evaluation such as cost-benefit and wellbeing cost-effectiveness analysis.
Students who choose to take the Wellbeing specialism of the MSc in Behavioural Science attend two courses:
- PB421: Happiness, which teaches students the science of wellbeing, led by Dr Kate Laffan.
- PB441: Wellbeing for Policy, which teaches students methods for wellbeing policy-making, led by Dr Christian Krekel.
Students write their MSc dissertation on a topic related to wellbeing. They are expected to attend the LSE Wellbeing seminar, which brings together leading researchers in wellbeing, promising young scholars in the field, and policy-makers from around the world. Students will be part of an interdisciplinary group of wellbeing scholars at LSE and at the heart of policy-making in London.
The Wellbeing specialism has an innovative assessment strategy, part of which is a field simulation: students will be working in teams on a real policy issue given to them by a partner UK Government department or agency, and they will then present their solution to UK Government officials as part of their assessment.
Students who choose to take the Wellbeing specialism have the option to graduate with an MSc in Behavioural Science (Wellbeing) to signal their expertise.
Wellbeing specialism leads
- Dr Christian Krekel, Assistant Professor in Behavioural Science, Programme Co-Director of MSc in Behavioural Science.
- Dr Kate Laffan, Assistant Professor in Behavioural Science.