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The University of Southampton

PHIL6069 Happiness and Wellbeing

Module Overview

It seems clear that people’s lives can go well or badly. But what is it for one’s life to go well? Does it consist in feeling good more often than feeling bad? Or getting most of what you want? Or does it consist in achievement, friendship, knowledge and a variety of other disparate things? It is highly tempting to think that your happiness matters for how well your life goes. But this raises further questions: what is happiness? Can it be measured? Is it a sensible goal for public policy? This module aims to explore questions such as these.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Advanced knowledge and understanding of influential theories of happiness and wellbeing.
  • Advanced knowledge and understanding of the arguments for and against those theories.
  • Advanced knowledge and understanding of the relevance of those theories for how we should live.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • evaluate critically influential accounts of happiness and well-being at an advanced level.
  • explore the implications of those accounts for how we should live and organise society at an advanced level.
  • see connections between those accounts and issues in other areas of study, such as economics, sociology, law, education, and politics.
  • articulate and defend your own views concerning the nature of happiness and wellbeing at an advanced level.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • undertake independent work, including identifying and using appropriate resources, at an advanced level.
  • work effectively to deadlines.
  • take notes from talks and written materials.
  • contribute to discussion in a critical but dispassionate way at an advanced level.
  • express views clearly and concisely at an advanced level.


The syllabus may vary from year to year. Topics may include: - Whether your life goes well to the extent that you get what you want - Whether your life can get worse without you being aware of that fact - Whether happiness is a feeling - Whether we can meaningfully compare your happiness and mine - Whether and how happiness ought to be a moral and/or political goal

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include - Lectures - In-class discussion - One-on-one consultation with module co-ordinator Learning activities include - Attending classes - Contribution to class discussion - Doing independent research for and writing assessed work

Independent Study117
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list



Assessment Strategy

For MA students taking this module, expectations will be significantly higher than those for year 3 undergraduate students attending the same lectures, and the assessment criteria will accordingly by stricter. In particular students will be required to demonstrate extremely high levels of detailed and accurate exposition, critical engagement, organisation and presentation, with scholarship that draws on appropriate primary literature.


Business case or Essay plan


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (4000 words) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Resubmit assessments  (4000 words) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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