Applied Positive Psychology MSc

Postgraduate (1 year, 2 years full-time, part-time)

Blended learning, Cambridge

January, September

Intermediate awards: PG Cert, PG Dip

Full-time MSc - January start, 17 months. September start, 12 months.
Part-time MSc - January start, 29 months. September start, 24 months.

For 2022/23, the Introduction to Positive Psychology module starts on 19 September 2022 or 16 January 2023. Please note that the start dates shown in the online application system refer to the start of Welcome Week, which is optional for MAPP students.

Overview

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. Our course is taught through a mix of face-to-face and online learning.

Full description

Careers

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 through the Learning Management System, you will develop the research skillset required to understand, conduct and communicate empirical research and be provided with the necessary tools you require to undertake your major project. In this module, through online activities (e.g., webinars) and independent learning, you will learn about the process required to conduct robust psychological research. Assuming no prior knowledge, the module provides you with a grounding in the research process with an initial focus on systematically reviewing published empirical literature in order to devise robust research questions. This module will then go on to explore the divergent epistemologies (e.g. Positivist, pragmatic, critical) that inform quantitative, mixed-methods and qualitative research designs. In tandem, you will learn the fundamental tenets of various data collection and analytical techniques that are available within each of these frameworks. In doing so, you will be required to show an appreciation of the practical and ethical issues associated with collecting data from human participants. On completion of this module, you will have practical experience in developing research questions, designing research, and selecting appropriate analytical strategies.
  • This module supports you in the preparation and submission of a Masters stage project, dissertation or artefact. The module provides the opportunity for you to select and explore in-depth, a topic that is of interest and relevance to positive psychology, in which you can develop a significant level of expertise. You will be expected to bring together aspects of learning from previous modules as well as using the learning as the basis for planning, conducting and writing and/or designing a research, theoretical, or an application project. The results of the project must be presented to the highest scientific professional standards. A research project will normally be based on preparatory work undertaken in the compulsory Research Methods module. The topic may be drawn from a variety of sources including: departmental research groups, a lecturer suggested topic, or a professional subject of interest provided that suitable supervision is available. The project topic will be assessed for suitability to ensure that it has the potential for sufficient academic challenge. You will be assigned a supervisor, or, if appropriate, a supervisory team. You will be expected to make regular reports on the state and progress of your work. These reports will normally be in a written format suitable for incorporation into the final thesis. The final thesis will normally be presented as a publishable research paper. Alternatively, a major project may take a form of a theoretical paper, database, electronic or board game or an application, an educational or training programme, a website, video or any other form. However, even when a major project is presented in a form other than predominantly in writing, a written element, which should conform to the guidelines for major projects, is usually expected to accompany the submission.

Optional modules (subject to availability)

  • This module approaches child development as a lens with which to better understand human behaviour more broadly. Studying the processes of development in general, and the experience of infants, children, and adolescents in particular, is an important, and often overlooked, source of information in understanding optimal adult functioning. This module therefore is designed to appeal to all, including those who do not see themselves as “interested in children.” The module introduces some of the main issues of development, including the influences and interactions of nature and nurture, and the process of change more generally. An overview of the current research on many aspects of positive cognitive, social and emotional development will allow you to critically examine different techniques and the interplay between cognition, emotion, and social well-being. Within cognitive development, special attention is drawn to the role of attention in development, self-regulation, and wellbeing. Within social and emotional development, you will examine the development of empathy, morality, and social connection, followed by research on the importance of play and how it is related to learning, engagement and flow. Throughout the module, the application of common positive psychology concepts, as applied in the context of children and adolescents, is highlighted, including mindfulness, empathy, kindness, engagement and purpose.
  • 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, arguing for a strengths-based approach to performance improvement. Both claim that attention should be directed towards 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 upon which a convincing explanation for coaching effectiveness can be based, 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”, etc) 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. This module will enable practitioners to translate concepts into action in a ‘nuts and bolts’ way. This module will include both theories and practical tools for working happiness and emotions. It will further equip 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, mindset, low levels of self-regulation and the complexity of the change process itself.
  • As a growing discipline, positive psychology is beginning to grapple with the professional accountability aspects of applying empirically based knowledge in the service of transforming the lives of individuals or organisations. This interest has translated into a move towards a common framing of the application of positive psychology as (a) building on strengths rather than repairing deficits; (b) facilitating subjectively meaningful transformation in clients or organisations rather than overvaluing the authority of expert-based, pre-determined intervention methods; and (c) reflecting an openness to share knowledge and good practice including from other professions which are also underpinned by psychological concepts. The aim of this module is to build your confidence to apply positive psychology in the real world. We will critically explore what is meant by Positive Psychological Interventions (PPI) and the intricacies of developing (designing, implementing and evaluating) an intervention and achieving a good fit between the PPI’s initial theoretical intention and its effectiveness. We will explore published PPIs, as well as lesser-known ones, looking to identify skills, techniques, and strategies. We will explore the notion of Positive Design, looking at how it can facilitate the creation of novel interventions, as well as investigate other important domains of practice, such as work and the community. We will expand our critical discussions around the practitioner development aspects of engaging in applied positive psychology activities by also focusing on practitioner strengths, supervision and personal development as part of core training needs.
  • This module will introduce you to empirical perspectives on individual well-being, as well as the methodology it relies on. We will consider perspectives on how we understand individual differences in happiness and well-being, including personality and intentional behaviours. You will explore factors thought to influence wellbeing and critically examine the evidence for their influence and its quality. This module will equip you with theoretical knowledge and empirical foundations to inspect the influence of a range of factors on well-being in the context of personal experiences. It will also enable you to pursue behavioural studies of wellbeing within the individual in a professional or an academic context. Over the course of a week, you will engage with lectures and seminar sessions focusing on: Defining and measuring individual wellbeing, and factors that contribute to individual wellbeing, as understood at the level/s of personality, intentional behaviours, demographics, and lifestyle (e.g. playfulness, optimism, altruism, exercise, self-care, etc).
  • 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. The module 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 a appreciative organisation, using the principles of strength based management, appreciative inquiry as a positive change method, and positive management techniques. You will also learn the practical skills of positing questions that open the floodgates for positive change, engaging the whole system, and generating measurable results.
  • This module describes the science behind social connection and explores how we can use it to improve the quality of our relationships. The course is about all relationships - friends, family, colleagues, neighbours, and strangers. It is not, therefore, a module on love and marriage or our most intimate relationships; it is about the dozens of exchanges we encounter in our daily lives, whether in person or virtual. It is a module about social connection. In its broadest sense, Positive Psychology is the study of the positive side of human nature. This includes individual well-being and the familiar concepts of engagement, gratitude, and strengths. But this also includes collective well-being and concepts like trust and cooperation, helping and kindness, laughter and play. Further understanding of these concepts is a key component for both individual well-being and social well-being, as individual and social well-being go hand in hand. The module will cover various applications, in our personal lives and in our professional lives - in management, education, health, and design. In presenting the science of social connection and possible applications. The goal of this module is that you will leave with an enriched understanding of the positive side of human social behaviour, the potential it holds, and the potential each of us has to change it for the better.
  • You will be introduced to a range of methods commonly used in cognitive neuroscience in the understanding of wellbeing. You will learn about and reflect on different quality measures and their relevance for the study of wellbeing. You will discuss the development of utility assessment and cognitive and neuroscience perspectives as approaches for understanding and validating utility in an objective manner. You will be introduced to the contribution of cognitive and neuroscience perspectives to a range of wellbeing concepts and contexts. These will include: mechanisms of conventional antidepressants; mechanisms of mindfulness-oriented interventions like meditation; These will include: mechanisms of conventional antidepressants; mechanisms of mindfulness-oriented interventions like meditation; creativity, resilience, and humour. You will also evaluate a range of cognitive enhancement methods. This module will enable you to evaluate the value of cognitive neuroscience findings in the context of wellbeing, based on construct validity, methodological considerations, and application range. You will learn to critically evaluate and use cognitive neuroscience in the context of your everyday life and environment. It will also equip you with knowledge necessary for further postgraduate study.
  • 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 community contexts. The 2022 Report Card from UNICEF summarises evidence from 41 OECD and EU countries indicating a continuing concern about children’s mental health and wellbeing, relationships and skills for life as well as serious inequalities. Positive education brings the findings of positive psychology and education together, with the aim of providing you with psychological knowledge and skills that can help you 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 curricula (well-being, resilience, emotional literacy, etc) that have been developed and implemented at schools in various countries, including but not limited to the USA, Australia, South Africa, Finland, Canada and the UK. Factors that contribute to the effectiveness of these curricula at different levels of the educational system will be explored and critiqued. This module also explores the context and culture of schools, including leadership, teacher wellbeing and liaison with families. You will become familiar with eco-systemic models. Positive psychology as applied to parenting will also be addressed Finally, the module will help you develop practical skills of teaching well- being and resilience to children and young people as well what is involved in becoming an agent of change for positive education.
  • What is the role of positive psychology in creating a positive society? This module examines what positive psychology and related disciplines can bring to the table in fostering a more positive society. Some fundamental questions addressed include: What constitutes a positive society? How can we promote social well-being while also promoting individual well-being? What role should government, business, and individual citizens have in shaping a more positive society? Can businesses work for social good? Taking a multidisciplinary approach, you will examine how the brain and behavioural sciences can contribute to designing public policy, as well as the particular challenges - and potential - positive psychologists have in becoming social change agents. We evaluate how cultural assumptions about human nature influence behaviour, public policy, and processes of change. We look at how the mind works, and how our cognitive biases and moral intuitions can influence the policies we choose to put in place. Various indices of societal well-being are presented, moving beyond GDP and exploring more recent initiatives that take environmental and social good into account. You will examine new initiatives in positive economics, including social entrepreneurship, and the impact popular culture and the media have on creating a positive society and social change.

Assessment

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, or a research proposal.

If you choose to study our MSc course, you'll also get the chance to design and create 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

From September 2022, the Introduction to Positive Psychology Module and all optional modules are delivered face-to-face in Cambridge. The Research Methods and Major Project modules are delivered online.

MSc: You’ll choose three optional modules from the list of nine available. In addition you will complete a compulsory 'Introduction to Positive Psychology' module. These modules will be delivered via an executive model of learning, which means teaching will be condensed to an intensive 1-week face to face delivery on our Cambridge campus. These modules will also be supported with online learning for you to engage with in your own time during the teaching trimester.

The compulsory ‘Research Methods for Psychology’ module and the major project module are both delivered online across the relevant teaching trimesters.

PG Diploma: You’ll choose four optional modules from the list of 10 modules indicated with *. These modules will be delivered via an executive model of learning, which means teaching will be condensed to an intensive 1-week face to face delivery on our Cambridge campus. These modules will also be supported with online learning for you to engage with in your own time during the teaching trimester.

PG Certificate: You’ll choose two optional modules from the list of 10 modules indicated with *. These modules will be delivered via an executive model of learning, which means teaching will be condensed to an intensive 1-week face to face delivery on our Cambridge campus. These modules will also be supported with online learning for you to engage with in your own time during the teaching trimester.

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?

Blended learning
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Study at a time that suits you, using our learning management system.

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Fees & funding

Course fees

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

£11,900

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

£5,950

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

£15,000

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

£7,500

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:

Accommodation: 
Suggested budget of £20 - £130 per night.

Return travel to/from Cambridge:
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. Find out more about paying your fees.

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. These include an Alumni Scholarship, worth 20% off fees for ARU graduates.

Entry requirements

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Registration

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

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 answers@aru.ac.uk for further information.

You'll need a computer and reliable internet access to successfully engage with your course. Before starting a course, we recommend that you check our technical requirements for online learning.

Teaching at ARU

We offer face-to-face campus teaching (with the exception of Distance Learning courses), supported by our established online learning systems, which provide additional support for individual study and engagement. The number of contact hours varies course by course, and you can contact us for further information.

In the event that there are restrictions that are put into place due to the pandemic by the government - we will endeavour to retain face to face teaching as much as possible but will respond accordingly to the restrictions placed on the University.

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 686868

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International applicants

+44 1245 683680

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