Applied Positive Psychology MSc

Postgraduate ( full-time, part-time)


January 2019, September 2018

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

Teaching times


Semester 1 (September start): Teaching weeks 1, Cambridge, Monday - Friday 09:00 - 17:00
Semester 2 (January start): Teaching weeks 1, Paris,  Monday - Friday 09:00 - 17:00
Further teaching weeks will vary depending on optional module choice


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.

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

  • Introduction to Positive Psychology (Cambridge for September starters or Paris for January starters)
    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.
  • Research Methods for Psychology (online)
    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.
  • Major Psychology Project (online)
    You'll 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

  • Positive Relationships (Cambridge)
    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 not 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 course 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 these concepts is a key component for individual well-being as individual well-being and collective well-being go hand in hand; nourishing one feeds the other. The social side of our lives is rich. There is a wealth of research to discover. There are countless applications, in our personal lives and in our professional lives - in management, in education, in the justice system, in health, in design, urban development, and more. In presenting the science of social connection and possible applications, the goal of this course is that students will leave with an enriched understanding of the positive side of human social behavior, the potential it holds, and the potential each of us has to change it for the better.
  • Positive Education (Paris)
    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.
  • Positive Psychology Coaching (Paris)
    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”, 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. 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, mindset, low levels of self-regulation and the complexity of the change process itself.
  • Neuroscience of Well-being (Cambridge)
    You'll 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'll also evaluate a range of cognitive enhancement methods, and discuss the concept of moral enhancement.
  • Positive Performance (Paris)
    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'll 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'll 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'll 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.
  • Positive Organisations and Appreciative Inquiry (Paris)
    Appreciative inquiry approach is a novel method of change management born in the end of the 1980’s 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'll examine the concept and methodology of appreciative inquiry as applied to the organizational and management context. You'll 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. 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.
  • Positive Psychology for Practitioners (Cambridge)
    As a growing discipline, 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.
  • Well-being: Economic, Social and Behavioural Causes (Cambridge)
    Zooming upwards from the more traditional focus on subjective well-being, this course takes a bird’s eye perspective by examining the economic, social, and behavioural factors that influence the wellbeing of individuals within a society. What makes a difference? And what are the implications in terms of the kind of society we strive for? A fundamental question for our personal lives, our professional lives, and for public policy, the module will draw on work from diverse domains including philosophy, social psychology, cognitive and affective neuroscience, evolutionary biology, and sociology. Although the economic, social and behavioural causes of wellbeing intersect, interact, and overlap with each other, we will focus on the themes somewhat separately at the beginning (to better see how they weave together at the end). In terms of economic causes, some questions explored include: Are rich countries happier than poor ones? What about within a country - are rich people happier than poor people? And if so, why? What is it about money that makes a difference? Is it status, or comfort, or security? In terms of social causes, we can examine how much factors such as employment, or family status, or leisure time make a difference and why. For instance, in what ways may unemployment decrease wellbeing, in terms of economic (less money), social (less social status and ties), and behavioral causes (less sense of purpose)? Finally, looking at behavioral causes can help us better tease apart the empirical studies to paint a coherent picture of when and why different economic and social factors play a role. The goal of the module is threefold: to better understand these factors to apply the information to our personal lives, our professional lives, and to generate ideas for a better society in the future.


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 & Technology is one of the largest of five faculties at Anglia Ruskin University. Whether you choose to study with us full- or part-time, on campus or at a distance, there’s an option whatever your level – from a foundation degree, to a 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 and technology 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 & EU students, 2018/19 (per year)


UK & EU students, 2018/19 (per year, part-time)


International students, 2018/19 (per year)


International students, 2018/19 (per year, part-time)


How do I pay my fees?

Paying upfront

You won't need to pay fees until you've accepted an offer to attend, but you must pay your fees up-front, in full or in instalments.

How to pay your fees directly

Funding for UK & EU 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, which provide extra financial support while you're at university. Find out more about eligibility and how to apply.

From September 2018, EU students starting a postgraduate degree with us can access a £600 bursary.

Meanwhile, our £400 Books Plus scheme helps with the costs of study. There's no need to apply for this: if you're eligible you can simply collect a Books Plus card when you start your course.

Entry requirements

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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 for further information.

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.

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

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International applicants

+44 1245 68 68 68

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