The Science of Happiness

A course instituted in 2018 at the University of Bristol (UB) in the UK, is proving to be both necessary and popular.

The Science of Happiness course appeals to students who struggle with depression. In 2018, The Guardian newspaper reported that thousands of tertiary students felt that counselling services at universities were inadequate.

Furthermore, they weren’t coping with essay deadlines or tests. Since the arrival of COVID-19, numbers of depressed students have increased radically.

The UB course comprises lectures and seminars without any examinations, although completing the course does earn students credits towards their degree. The credits are called ‘happiness hacks’ and ‘happiness hubs’, and are given out as course participants engage in weekly activities.

Bruce Hood: Science of Happiness

Course manager Bruce Hood says that the university’s research finds that the three student cohorts who have done the course have improved their mental health. Hood attributes this to the course subject matter: students learn about how the brain works as well as how to practise fulfilment.Says Hood:

Students study the impact of loneliness on the immune system, how optimism can extend life expectancy and how the act of giving activates the reward centre in the brain.

Students are required to give feedback after completing the course. Many find that they have developed a skill set that will result in a deeper appreciation of practices like meditation and walking, which can improve sleep.