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Online course

Social Wellbeing

Find out how measuring and promoting wellbeing can make people, organisations and society more focused, considerate and effective.

What’s the difference between a free course and an upgraded course?


  • Access to the course for its duration + 14 days, regardless of when you join (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, quizzes)
  • No certificate


  • Unlimited access to the course, for as long as it exists on FutureLearn (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, quizzes)
  • A Certificate of Achievement when you complete the course

Find out more

Social Wellbeing

Why join the course?

Since the financial crisis, there has been an increased interest in moving away from GDP and wealth as measures of national and individual performance. Instead, more explicit attention is being paid to wellbeing around the world, and how we can promote it at individual, local, national and international levels.

Join a global community of wellbeing practitioners

This free online course will help you engage constructively in the wellbeing movement, and use wellbeing considerations to make important transformations to your work and your ways of planning, learning and justifying your decisions.

The course aims to create a global community of wellbeing practitioners, who can inspire and learn from each other, including:

  • human resources (HR) professionals, who are keen to embrace wellbeing and purpose, to improve staff satisfaction and productivity;
  • social planners from the public and third sector, who want to address the social and economic factors that affect wellbeing at a community level;
  • and policy makers and civil servants, who wish to measure wellbeing or understand the life outcomes that matter most to people when developing policy.

Look at the world through a wellbeing lens

On the course, you will find out how careful consideration of wellbeing – looking at the world through a wellbeing lens – can make everyone more focused, motivated, considerate and effective.

We will ask: could your work, and your organisation, become more effective by making wellbeing a core theme? What does it mean, in practice, to use a wellbeing lens? And beyond this general label, what more specific aspects of life enhancement can we usefully highlight in our organisational aims and performance targets?

Explore wellbeing from individual to international levels

Finally, we will consider the factors that contribute to wellbeing at different levels:

  • Personal and interpersonal: what are the main ways of thinking about wellbeing as a whole? What are the key domains and components of personal wellbeing?
  • Organisational and community: how do communities and organisations facilitate wellbeing? What is community vitality? What is a healthy organisational climate?
  • National and international: What is national wellbeing and how can we measure and promote it?

Learn with wellbeing researchers and practitioners

The course has been developed by the University of Edinburgh, with support from the Scottish Universities Insight Institute and Scotland’s Futures Forum, and contributions from a range of organisations, including Oxfam, Carnegie UK Trust, Scottish Environment Protection Agency and Volunteering Scotland.

The course team has a wealth of experience on the national and international wellbeing debate, having researched topics such as happiness and subjective wellbeing, and the impact of the welfare state on them.

Re-use license

Except where otherwise stated, all course content is licensed by the University of Edinburgh under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 8 secondsYou're probably already an expert in wellbeing. You know it matters more than anything else in life. You've pursued it all your life. And hopefully, you've also made it happen for other people too. We're all, in our private lives but also in our public roles co-responsible for one another's well being. However, how many organisations do you know that really do the best possible job at making people's lives go really, really well? Well in this course we're going to help you realise the radical potential of wellbeing as a socially transformative concept. We believe that all individuals and all organisations can learn to converse and to think more intelligently about well being.

Skip to 0 minutes and 50 seconds Increasingly, people are recognising the importance of paying attention, not just to individual well being, and the things we can do to look after ourselves, but also paying attention to things that happen at wider societal levels. So social goods that can only be produced collectively, but which are really important in contributing to well being. Each week we will offer a simple introduction to concepts and research on well being, and its rule for both planning and learning. The main emphasis of the course is on real world experiences. You will not just from academics, but in particular practitioners and organisations involved in the advocacy of well being.

Skip to 1 minute and 38 seconds If you can imagine a better society in which collective action is directed towards well being, then this course is for you. So we're really looking forward to welcoming you onto this course.

When would you like to start?

  • Date to be announced

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you'll be able to...

  • Reflect upon diverse understandings of wellbeing
  • Use a "wellbeing lens" to assess what organisations or governments say and what they do
  • Explore approaches to including wellbeing criteria in evaluation of policies and services
  • Collaborate on achieving better outcomes and debate the moral and practical implications of wellbeing

Who is the course for?

The course is primarily designed for policy makers and practitioners from both the public and private sectors, whose professional work requires them to think and talk about wellbeing. However, the course is open to everybody and we welcome learners who want to improve their lives by looking through a wellbeing lens.

Who will you learn with?

Neil Thin

Neil Thin is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Social and Political Science at the University of Edinburgh. His research, teaching, and public work is on social planning for wellbeing.

Elke Heins

I'm a Lecturer in Social Policy at the University of Edinburgh. Much of my research on welfare and wellbeing is from an international comparative perspective.

Jan Eichhorn

Dr Jan Eichhorn is a lecturer in Social Policy at the University of Edinburgh specialising in challenging orthodox economic conceptions of wellbeing and exploring new forms of civic engagement.

Who developed the course?

Founded in 1583, the University of Edinburgh is one of the world’s top universities and is globally recognised for research, innovation and high-quality teaching.


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Buy a personalised, digital and printed certificate and transcript

You can buy a Certificate of Achievement for this course — a personalised certificate and transcript in both digital and printed formats, to prove what you’ve learnt.

£59.00 + shipping

Estimate prices in preferred currency

Charges to your account will be made in GBP. Prices in local currency are provided as a convenience and are only an estimate based on current exchange rates.