PB421      Half Unit

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Paul Dolan QUE.3.08


This course is available on the MPA in International Development, MPA in Public Policy and Management, MPA in Public and Economic Policy, MPA in Public and Social Policy, MPA in Social Impact, MSc in Behavioural Science, MSc in Environmental Economics and Climate Change, MSc in Organisational and Social Psychology, MSc in Psychology of Economic Life, MSc in Social and Cultural Psychology and MSc in Social and Public Communication. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This is a capped course subject to the size of the room that is allocated for it.

In teaching week 1 places will be allocated to students from the Department of Psychological and Behavioural Science on a first come first served basis.  At the start of week 2 any remaining places will be allocated to students from other departments, again on a first come first served basis.

Course content

This course aims to introduce students to the main concepts and tools of the science of happiness. To achieve this aim, the course is based around ten lectures covering: 1) what is wellbeing?; 2) research on happiness; 3) evaluations of happiness; 4) experiences of happiness; 5) adaptation and attention; 6) mistakes about happiness; 7) happiness by design; 8) valuing non-market goods using preferences; 9) valuing non-market goods using happiness; 10) happiness as a (the?) policy objective.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars in the LT.

There are ten topics, and the seminars allow for in depth discussion and analysis of the issues raised in the lectures Formative coursework.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay (1000 words) in the LT.

Indicative reading


Dolan P. Happiness by design: Finding pleasure and purpose in everyday life, Penguin 2016. 

Dolan, P. Happy Ever After: Escaping the Myth of the Perfect Life, Allen Lane, 2019.

Wilson, T. Gilbert, D. (2003) Affective forecasting. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 35, p345-411.

Dolan P and Kahneman D, Interpretations of utility and their implications for the valuation of health, Economic Journal., 118 (525), 215–234, 2008.

Dolan, P., & Metcalfe, R. (2012) Measuring subjective wellbeing: Recommends on measures for use by national governments. Journal of Social Policy, 41 (2), 409-427.

Dolan, P., Peasgood, T., & White, M. (2008). Do we really know what makes us happy? A review of the economic literature on the factors associated with subjective well-being. Journal of Economic Psychology, 29(1), 94-122.

Dolan, P., & Kudrna, L. (2016). Sentimental Hedonism: Pleasure, Purpose, and Public Policy. In Handbook of Eudaimonic Well-Being (pp. 437-452). Springer, Cham.

Kahneman, D., & Thaler, R. (2006). Utility maximization and experienced utility. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 20(1), 221-234.

Fujiwara, D., & Campbell, R. (2011). Valuation techniques for social cost-benefit analysis: stated preference, revealed preference and subjective well-being approaches: a discussion of the current issues. HM Treasury.

Williams, B. (2008). Cost-benefit analysis. Economic & Labour Market Review, 2(12), 67.

Dolan, P., Laffan, K., & Velias, A. (2018). Who’s miserable now? Identifying clusters of people with the lowest subjective wellbeing in the UK. Office for National Statistics.

Layard, R. (2005). Rethinking public economics: The implications of rivalry and habit. Economics and happiness, 1(1), 147-170.



Essay (100%, 2500 words) in the ST.

Key facts

Department: Psychological and Behavioural Science

Total students 2018/19: 53

Average class size 2018/19: 18

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information