PB421      Half Unit

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Christian Krekel


This course is available on the MSc in Behavioural Science, MSc in Environmental Policy, Technology and Health (Environmental Economics and Climate Change) (LSE and Peking University), 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 with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

This course aims to introduce students to the main concepts and tools of the growing science of happiness, with a focus on applicability in policies across all sectors (government, private business, and the voluntary sector). To achieve this aim, the course is based on ten lectures covering: 1) what is happiness?; 2) evaluations of happiness; 3) experiences of happiness; 4) attention, adaptation, and mistakes; 5) happiness by design; 6) the narrative trap; 7) happiness in the corporate world; 8) policy appraisal using preferences; 9) policy appraisal using happiness; 10) happiness as the ultimate objective.


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

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce one essay of 1,000 words in LT.

Indicative reading


Clark, A.E., Flèche, S., Layard, R., Powdthavee, N., & Ward, G. (2018). The Origins of Happiness: The Science of Well-Being over the Life Course. Princeton, MA: Princeton University Press.

Dolan, P. (2014). Happiness by Design: Finding Pleasure and Purpose in Everyday Life. London: Penguin.

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

Layard, R. (2005). Happiness: Lessons from a New Science. London: Penguin.

Layard, R, (2020). Can We Be Happier? Evidence and Ethics. London: Penguin.

Journal articles

Clark, A.E., Diener, E., Georgellis, Y., & Lucas, R.E. (2008). Lags And Leads in Life Satisfaction: a Test of the Baseline Hypothesis. Economic Journal, 118(529), F222-F243.

Dolan, P., & Kahneman, D. (2008). Interpretations Of Utility And Their Implications For The Valuation Of Health. Economic Journal, 118(525), 215-234.

Dolan, P., & Kudrna, L. (2016). Sentimental Hedonism: Pleasure, Purpose, and Public Policy. In Vittersø, J. (ed). Handbook of Eudaimonic Well-Being (International Handbooks of Quality-of-Life). Cham: Springer.

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.

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.

Layard, R., Clark, A.E., Cornaglia, F., Powdthavee, N., & Vernoit, J. (2014). What Predicts a Successful Life? A Life-course Model of Well-being. Economic Journal, 124(580), F720-F738.

Wilson, T., & Gilbert, D. (2003). Affective forecasting. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 35, 345-411.


Essay (100%, 3000 words) in the ST.

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Psychological and Behavioural Science

Total students 2020/21: 32

Average class size 2020/21: 8

Controlled access 2020/21: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information