SO6008 - Making Sense of Happiness and Wellbeing

What will I learn on this module?

You will be introduced to the sociological study of happiness and wellbeing, posing questions about how we analyse notions of a good life and the efforts people make to flourish. We draw on sociological research as well as work from psychology, economics and philosophy to explore the significance of happiness for people’s identities and life course transitions. We discuss some of the traditional concerns of sociology such as social divisions and inequality (working through class, gender, ‘race’ and sexuality) relating these to the experience of happiness and the structuring of wellbeing. We draw on several case studies (such as wellbeing in other cultures, aging and young people) to illustrate how happiness functions as a social process that can be a site of struggle and conflict that features in many different aspects of life through families, friendships, intimacy, work and leisure.

How will I learn on this module?

You will engage with one hour lectures and two hour workshops/seminar discussions. The latter involves small and whole group activities employing posters, debates and short presentations. There will be a wide range of learning materials available online suh as images, video clips and short readings and students are expected to engage wih these each week prior to workshops discussions.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

You will be assessed through mid semester assessment and feedback which will be provided via one-to one tutorials with tutors as well assessment prep sessions in workshops so that students can be supported as they prepare for their final summative assessment.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at:
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team –

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding
1. To identify and appraise the distinctive contribution that sociological ideas can make to the analysis of happiness and wellbeing.
2. Identify and analyse how notions of wellbeing are linked to key debates in sociology such as those around identity, power and social division.
3. Demonstrate a critical understanding of how wellbeing has emerged historically and is implicated in a range of contemporary debates around the good life and the role of social policy in contemporary societies.

Intellectual / Professional skills and abilities
1. To enage with materials/data from a variety of sources and apply these in a critical way to the analysis of wellbeing.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA)
1. To explore how the study of wellbeing implies ethical questions about the good life and good society.

How will I be assessed?

Essay (4,000 words)





Module abstract

Please find details of this module in the other sections provided.

Course info

UCAS Code L300

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years full-time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Social Sciences

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2023

Fee Information

Module Information

All information on this course page is accurate at the time of viewing.

Our Campus based courses starting in 2022 and 2023 will be delivered on-campus with supporting online learning content. We continue to monitor government and local authority guidance in relation to Covid-19 and we are ready and able to adjust the delivery of our education accordingly to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff.

On-campus contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with any additional restrictions, which may be imposed by the Government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors. This could potentially mean increased or fully online delivery, should such restrictions on in-person contact time be required.


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