Applied Positive Psychology MSc

Postgraduate (12 months, 15 months full-time, part-time)


January, September

Intermediate awards: PG Cert, PG Dip

Full-time - January start, 15 months. September start, 12 months.
Part-time - January start, 27 months. September start, 24 months.

Applications for those who wish to study in January 2022 will close on Tuesday 4th January 2022. This is to ensure that your application can be assessed before the compulsory module begins on Monday 17th January 2022.

Apply online

Applications take just ten minutes


Put yourself at the forefront of this developing discipline by joining a strand of applied psychology only offered at a few universities across the world. Discover and discuss the nature of happiness, what helps people thrive and make a difference to everyday lives by studying MSc Applied Positive Psychology at ARU.

Find out more about teaching options and studying during COVID-19 in the Entry requirements section, below.

Full description


You could find yourself using positive psychology within training, government, an organisation or even in life coaching. You might want to use the sustainable well-being and development skills you gain in the charity, social enterprise or health sectors. Or you could even use the methods to transform a business or help develop and optimise the potential of a group, community or institution.

If you’re a qualified clinical psychologist, counsellor or psychotherapist, you’ll find positive psychology theory, research and applications will benefit your clinical work. Teachers, youth workers and educators also use positive psychology expertise in their work. You’re also in the perfect position to continue your academic career and move up to our Psychology PhD.

Modules & assessment

Core modules

  • Positive psychology is defined as the study of the life that is worth living, with a focus on positive subjective experience (such as positive emotions), positive individual traits (such as strengths and virtues) and positive institutions. This module aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the study of well-being and optimal human functioning, including the latest research findings and thinking around the topics of happiness, flow, character strengths and other relevant areas. Students will learn about the correlates and biological, social, and economic predictors of happiness and well-being across various cultures; cognitive, motivational, and interpersonal predictors of positive emotions and emotional intelligence. They will be encouraged to critically evaluate existing research on optimism, flow, post-traumatic growth, character strengths, etc. Psychological processes that have implications for facilitating positive individual change will also be highlighted (e.g., recent foci in several forms of therapy on ‘mindfulness meditation’, facilitating forgiveness and gratitude; articulating personal goals and values; bolstering selfefficacy and resilience). The module will examine theoretical and philosophical assumptions, as well as criticisms of the positive psychology movement.
  • This module develops your understanding of the principles of undertaking empirical research. Delivered online, you will develop the research skill-set required to understand, conduct and communicate empirical research and provide you with the necessary tools you require to undertake your major project.
  • You will chose an independent research topic from an area of expertise within our department, and will conduct a significant research project in that area which may involve a literature review, data collection, analysis and a dissertation write-up.

Optional modules (subject to availability)

  • The subject area of positive relationships is still to receive a firm purposeful, systematic theoretical and empirical coverage. The aim of this module is to provide an overview of the current research on the topic of relationships from within the discipline of positive psychology per see and expand this by adding theoretical and philosophical ideas from related psychologically based disciplines – existential, developmental, and psychoanalytic ideas in particular. You will learn about the intertwined nature of self-and-others from a developmental/formative stance before examining the qualities that are believed to delineate positive relationships, the personal and interpersonal skills found to promote and maintain positive relationships, and the dilemmas and barriers to achieving this. Relating to Others is inherently underpinned by the process of relating to Self. Throughout the module you will be encouraged to strengthen your habit of self-reflection, critical skills and analytic thought in relation to each personal, academic and practitioner-oriented (as applied positive psychologists) levels of exploration.
  • The aim of the module is to expand your horizons with regard to the range of existing and potential applications of positive psychology to educational, parenting and youth provision contexts. The wealth of countries in the 21st century appears to provide relatively little protection for their youth, with recent international surveys (e.g. UNICEF, 2007) revealing a worrisome picture with regard to well-being, depression and anxiety of children and young people. Positive education is a new area that brings the findings of positive psychology and education together, with the aim of providing them with psychological knowledge and skills that can help them to live a life of flourishing and become more resilient by coping with problems in productive ways. This aim is often implemented by means of specific positive psychology curricular (well-being, resilience, emotional literacy, etc.) that have been developed and successfully implemented at schools in various countries, including but not limited to the USA, Australia, and the UK. Both the evidence base and practical elements of some of these programmes will be examined. Another, more general goal of improving student and teacher well-being within the existing educational contexts can be reached by using evidence-based interventions and methodologies at different levels of the educational system, from preschool to university. Finally, the module will help you develop practical skills of teaching well-being and resilience to children and young people.
  • In recent years, a highly successful partnership was developed between coaching and positive psychology. Both coaching and positive psychology are natural allies in sharing an explicit concern with the enhancement of optimal functioning and well-being, challenging traditional assumptions about human nature and arguing for a strengths rather than deficiency-based approach to performance improvement. Both claim that attention should be redirected from ‘fixing’ the client, or looking for signs of pathology (which may be framed as a job of therapists), to finding what is right with the person and working on enhancing it. Judging by the number of papers in coaching journals and keynotes in coaching conferences, positive psychology has become an essential fixture in the coaching world. Frequently seen as a theoretical panacea on which a convincing explanation for coaching effectiveness can be based upon, positive psychology has indeed offered a number of theories and empirical studies considered useful by coaching professionals. However, few attempts have been made to apply positive psychology concepts to coaching over and above some standard evidence-based psychology interventions (e.g. “three blessings”, “gratitude visit”) that can often be perceived by coaches as inappropriate for their business clients. The module aims to address the above reservations by discussing context appropriate ways to utilise existing positive psychology interventions, as well as introducing and practicing new positive psychology based tools and models developed specifically for coaching practice. Thus module will offer coaching practitioners a tangible ‘toolkit’ that enables them to translate concepts to action in a ‘nuts and bolts’ way. This module will include both theories and practical tools for working happiness and emotions. It will further equips coaches with skills to create, implement and sustain optimal performance through helping their coachees to identify and harness their strengths, as well as their psychological capital. The relationship between time, well-being and performance will be discussed and operationalised with regard to empirical research on various aspects of psychology of time, including time perspective and subjective time use. Finally, the module will examine known barriers to making a successful change, such as our beliefs, mind-set, low levels of self-regulation and the complexity of the change process itself.
  • You will be introduced to a range of methods commonly used in cognitive neuroscience. These methods will be evaluated on different quality measures and their relevance for the study of well-being. The development of utility assessment will be discussed, with neuroscience as a recent and powerful method of validating utility in an objective manner. The contribution of neuroscience to a range of well-being relevant areas will be investigated. This will include: mechanisms of conventional antidepressants; mechanisms of mindfulness oriented interventions like meditation; neuroscience studies of compassion, optimism, creativity, resilience, and humour. You will also evaluate a range of cognitive enhancement methods, and discuss the concept of moral enhancement.
  • The objective of the module is to examine conditions behind an above-average performance in the sport or work domains. Performance is envisaged here in its widest meaning of the word, not only from the perspective of winning or being able to produce a high-level sport performance. You will examine various variables known to affect performance, including hope and optimism, locus of control, sense of coherence and self-efficacy, motivation and goal setting. You will explore recent research findings on the relationships between physical activity, brain activity, and various health and performance outcomes. This will result in practical recommendations around physical life management and intentional activity. You will be invited to become involved in a sports session as a means of illustration. The main goal will be to identify strategies intended to support auto-determined motivation. Winning a match will certainly not be the main objective of mini tournament. Several workshops shall be held in which participants will be able to apply various psychological levers to the improvement of their game. This will illustrate the impact of the fulfilment of basis psychological needs (from the perspective of self-determination theory). The theory of self-determination module will be developed further along with explanatory styles and optimism. Concrete practical applications will be envisaged as a result of group work.
  • Appreciative inquiry approach is a novel method of change management born in the end of the 1980s in the USA. This approach draws support from the constructivist theory and positive psychology. It is a shift from the traditional problem solving approach to focusing attention and basing the changes on the successes, the strengths, the positive energies of an organisation, rather than staying problems-, deficits-, or mistakes centred, yet following a well-defined methodology. You will examine the concept and methodology of appreciative inquiry as applied to the organizational and management context. You will work on identifying the characteristics of an appreciative organisation, using the principles of strength based management, appreciative inquiry as a positive change method, and positive management techniques. They will also learn the practical skills of positing questions that open the floodgates for positive change, engaging the whole system, and generating measurable results.
  • ipline, positive psychology is beginning to grapple with the professional accountability aspects of its activity of applying empirically based knowledge in the service transforming the lives of individuals or organisations. This interest has translated into a move towards a common framing of applications of positive psychology as an activity that (a) builds on strengths rather than aims to repair deficits; (b) facilitates subjectively meaningful transformation to clients or organisations rather than comfortably recycling an overvaluing of the authority of expert-based, pre-determined intervention methods; and (c) reflects openness to share knowledge and good practice from others including from other professions which are also underpinned by psychological concepts. In this module we will address this practitioner-oriented aspect of the Applied Positive Psychology. We will critically explore what is meant by a Positive Psychological Interventions (PPI) and the intricacies of developing (design, implementation, and evaluation) an intervention and of achieving a good fit between the PPI’s initial theoretical intention and its effectiveness. We will explore published PPIs looking to identify skills, techniques, and strategies as well as noting blind-spots and identify weaknesses. We will expand our critical discussions around the practitioner-development aspects of engaging in applied positive psychology activities by also focusing on supervision and personal development as part of core PPI training needs.
  • Cover theoretical foundations of an empirical discipline investigating well-being, as well as the methodology it relies on. Your considerations will centre around the concept of utility, with its historical development, and recent shift toward assessing utility as happiness and well-being. Based on the insights on utility assessment, you will discuss a number of factors thought to influence well-being, and the evidence for their influence, as well as examining quality using quantitative tools. You will examine the relationship between macroeconomic indices like gross domestic or national product, or the development index, and well-being. You will also focus on specific issues like income, employment, and voluntary work within the concept of social status and altruism. You will investigate the central role of the value system, highlighting contrasts between different value systems, as a potential vehicle for long-term change in well-being. Finally, you will pursue behavioural studies of well-being within a professional or an academic context.
  • This module provides a comprehensive overview of positive developmental psychology across the age phase 0-19 years. You'll be asked to critically reflect on children’s development from a range of different psychological perspectives, making links to how positive emotions, strengths and virtues might be enhanced across the contexts of home, school and other settings. Cultural variations as well as core virtues that have been noted to be valued in every culture, together with explorations of individual differences, will be considered. Psychological processes that have implications for facilitating positive individual change will be highlighted (e.g., exploring concepts of positive parenting as well as creative techniques for parents; the importance of play and flow in developing positive social and emotional well-being; the role of social relationships in enhancing learning, and, the development of emotional intelligence across specific age phases including how happiness unfolds over time and within the person). These ideas will be linked to research and evidence in relation to the development of children’s thinking skills, language and communication and social skills. You'll examine theoretical and philosophical assumptions, as well as criticisms of the positive psychology movement. It should appeal to anyone wishing to support the development of positive social and emotional well-being in children, as well as those wishing to support positive change efforts on behalf of the family or individual setting.
  • The module is designed to provide students with the theoretical tools to understand what a positive society could be like, in a cross-topic manner. Firstly, an overview of positive economics will be offered, which will range from well-being economics to rational altruism-based economics. These new economics will be discussed both at a macro and micro-level, giving an overview of the implications in terms of CSR (corporate social responsibility) and positive business. A second aspect of the positive society will be explored through the study of citizens’ positive participation. format can it take? What are the implications in terms of happiness? Who are the key figures? What are the implications in terms of democracy? A sub-module will then examine the alternative measures to GDP used to assess societal progress, from the Gross National Happiness used in Bhutan through to the OECD measures. We will study the theoretical bases as well as international examples, exploring how they can affect policy making, as well as society as a whole. The fourth topic will explore possible positive public policies in fields ranging from economy to health and urbanism. This sub-module will further examine possible applications of positive psychology to legislation with a focus on specific fields of policy-making (such as sustainability) The final sub-module will focus will be on the design of living and work environments from the perspective of empirical findings.


100% of your assessment will be through coursework. This could include essays, blogs, a reflective portfolio, self-reflective log, handouts, video presentation, mind maps, reports, a research proposal and a major project. You'll also get the chance to carry out an applied project in either a personal or professional setting, to give you experience of how positive psychology can be implemented in practice.

Module notes

You’ll choose three modules from the list of 12 available across Cambridge and Paris. In addition you will complete an Introduction to Positive Psychology module (Paris or Cambridge), the ‘Research Methods for Psychology (online)’ module and a major project.

Where you'll study

Your faculty

The Faculty of Science & Engineering is one of the largest of the four faculties at Anglia Ruskin University. Whether you choose to study with us full-time or part-time, on campus or at a distance, there’s an option whatever your level – from a foundation degree, BSc, MSc, PhD or professional doctorate.

Whichever course you pick, you’ll gain the theory and practical skills needed to progress with confidence. Join us and you could find yourself learning in the very latest laboratories or on field trips or work placements with well-known and respected companies. You may even have the opportunity to study abroad.

Everything we do in the faculty has a singular purpose: to provide a world-class environment to create, share and advance knowledge in science, technology and engineering fields. This is key to all of our futures.

Where can I study?

Lord Ashcroft Building on our Cambridge campus

Our campus is close to the centre of Cambridge, often described as the perfect student city.

Explore our Cambridge campus

Fees & funding

Course fees

UK students starting 2021/22 (per year)


UK students starting 2021/22 (part-time, per year)


International students starting 2021/22 (per year)


International students starting 2021/22 (part-time, per year)


UK students starting 2022/23 (full-time, per year)


UK students starting 2022/23 (part-time, per year)


International students starting 2022/23 (full-time, per year)


International students starting 2022/23 (part-time, per year)


Important fee notes

The part-time course fee assumes that you're studying at half the rate of a full-time student (50% intensity). Course fees will be different if you study over a longer period. All fees are for guidance purposes only.

Travel and accommodation costs for optional or compulsory modules where face to face teaching is required may incur additional costs:

Suggested budget of £20 - £130 per night.

Return travel to/from Cambridge/Paris:
Suggested budget of £70 - £250 per trip.

Please be aware that these are suggested costs only and that actual costs may vary based on where you live, method of transport chosen, availability of transport chosen, availability of accommodation, accommodation chosen and any other variables such as EU membership, fluctuation in demand for accommodation/travel options and time of booking.

How do I pay my fees?

UK students

You can pay your fees upfront, in full or in instalments – though you won't need to pay until you've accepted an offer to study with us.

How to pay your fees directly

Funding for postgraduate students

It’s important to decide how to fund your course before applying. Use our finance guide for postgraduate students to learn more about postgraduate loans and other funding options.

We offer a fantastic range of ARU scholarships and bursaries, which provide extra financial support while you're at university.

Entry requirements

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Successful applicants wishing to take up a place on the course will be required to register no later than the Friday before the Introduction Module. This is to ensure you're ready to attend the first week of teaching. If you are unable to register by this date, you may not be able to study the course until the following intake.

Important additional notes

Whether you're studying entirely online or through a blend of face-to-face and online learning from September 2021, you'll need a computer and reliable internet access to successfully engage with your course. Before starting the course, we recommend that you check our technical requirements for online learning. Our website also has general information for new students about starting university in 2021-22.

Our published entry requirements are a guide only and our decision will be based on your overall suitability for the course as well as whether you meet the minimum entry requirements. Other equivalent qualifications may be accepted for entry to this course, please email for further information.

Teaching options

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, face-to-face campus teaching (where offered as part of a course) is supported by online learning using our established online learning systems. The number of contact hours varies course by course, and you can contact us for further information. The provision offered is subject to change due to the possibility of further Government restrictions, however we remain committed to delivering face-to-face teaching and ensuring a safe and inclusive environment.

In the event that there are further changes to the current restrictions that are in place due to the pandemic, we may need to move some courses online only at short notice to remain in line with Government guidelines and ensure the continued safety of our students and staff.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you'll need to make sure you meet our English language requirements for postgraduate courses.

Check the standard entry requirements for IELTS requirements for this course.

Improving your English language skills

If you don't meet our English language requirements, we offer a range of courses which could help you achieve the level required for entry.

We also provide our own English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT) in the UK and overseas. To find out if we are planning to hold an ELPT in your country, contact our country managers.

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Get more information

UK & EU applicants

01245 68 68 68

Enquire online

International applicants

+44 1245 68 68 68

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