PP3HGML-Happy, Good and Meaningful Lives

Module Provider: Philosophy
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Prof Philip Stratton-Lake

Email: p.j.stratton-lake@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

Happiness and well-being are not only important from the agent’s point of view, but are essential to many moral debates. In this module we will analyse the key notions of happiness, a good life, and a meaningful life to gain a better understanding of each. We will also consider various views on what things make for a happy life, a good life, and a meaningful life. The module will look at both historical and current views on these issues.


This module develops skills and knowledge acquired in previous years by studying the relevant philosophical issues and figures in more detail, and drawing on current research expertise within the department. By a careful, and impartial assessment of historical and contemporary views students will come to acquire a deep understanding of the key concepts and arguments on this topic.

Assessable learning outcomes:

Students will gain a deep knowledge and understanding of the main views about happiness, the good life, and a meaningful life. They will also have a reasoned and fair assessment of these views. This will involve developing skills and knowledge already acquired in moral philosophy, metaphysics, and epistemology during the first two years of study.

Additional outcomes:

Outline content:

Questions covered on the module will typically include:

  • What is happiness?

  • What makes for a good life?

  • What is a meaningful life, and is it distinct from a good life?

  • If these are different notions, how are they different?

  • What makes a life meaningful?

  • Must meaningfulness involve a sense of fulfilment?

  • Could one live a good or meaningful life but not know it?

  • Could an unpleasant life be meaningful?

  • Could an unpleasant life be a good life?

  • Does meaningfulness require something beyond life to be possible?

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

The module is taught by lectures and seminars. Students are expected to attend 10 hours of lectures and 5 hours of seminars during the term in which the module’s lecture and seminar classes take place. All students are required to write a single essay from a list of questions supplied by the module convenor. The essay assignment will be due in week 5 of the Summer term. In addition, students will be required to write a short précis of the topic for discussion in each seminar class. Students are encouraged to be active in all classes, asking questions and trying to answer the questions posed by others. A reading list and sample questions will be given out at the start of the course.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 10
Seminars 5
Guided independent study 85
Total hours by term 100.00
Total hours for module 100.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 100

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Formative assessment methods:

Students will write a short précis of the topic for discussion for every seminar class. Some classes may involve quizzes.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Assessment requirements for a pass:

    A mark of 40% overall.

    Reassessment arrangements:

    Written assignment, to be completed in August/September

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

    Last updated: 20 April 2018


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