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PSY4065 Positive Psychology: Theory and Application

Semester 2, 2013 On-campus Springfield
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Sciences
School or Department : Psychology
Version produced : 21 July 2014

Contents on this page


Examiner: Annissa O'Shea
Moderator: Hong Eng Goh


Pre-requisite: Students must be enrolled in one of the following Programs: BPSH or BSCH


An advanced understanding of contemporary psychological theories and their applications within various contexts provides the foundation for professional practice as psychologists. In particular, those entering the profession must have an understanding of emerging trends and the evidence informing these, whether they are new theoretical models or applied practice.

Positive psychology is a newly emerging and applied sub-discipline of psychology that draws upon established psychological approaches from counselling, clinical, educational and organisational psychology. It has been defined as ‘‘the systematic application of behavioural science to the enhancement of life experience, work performance and well-being for individuals, groups and organizations who do not have clinically significant mental health issues or abnormal levels of distress” (Australian Psychological Society, 2003). Essentially, positive psychology is an approach that complements existing fields of psychology by addressing the underlying factors that promote and maintain wellbeing, accomplishment, and quality of life. This course provides students with grounding in the theoretical principles of positive psychology and experience in applying these principles across a variety of settings and populations.


The aim of this course is to develop students critical understanding of, and competence in applying, the fundamental principles of Positive Psychology across selected contexts. The theoretical component of the course provides students with an historical overview of theories informing this approach including humanistic theories through to emerging theories of resilience, optimism and human flourishing, along with recent research on neuropsychology and brain plasticity. Students will review empirical evidence to critically evaluate these theories as well as the strengths and limitations of assessment instruments and evidence-based interventions and their relevance for 21st century Australian society. This course also includes a practical component which provides students with supervised experiences in positive psychological assessment, designing and delivering positive psychological interventions with selected clients, and evaluating outcomes with individual and groups.


On successful completion of this course, students should be able to:

  1. understand and critically evaluate a range of psychological theories that informed the emergence of positive psychology as a sub-discipline of psychology and currently shape our theoretical understanding of positive psychology’s empirical evidence (case studies, essay, practicum report);
  2. define, identify and assess a range of psychological phenomena including character strengths and virtues, positive emotions (subjective wellbeing, optimism, happiness, gratitude, forgiveness, and hope), and positive cognitions (mindfulness, creativity, self-efficacy, goal setting, resilience and post-traumatic growth); (case studies, essay, practicum report);
  3. develop and administer evidence-based strategies or interventions that address the psychosocial issues that affect individual, group, organisational, and/or community wellbeing, and describe the antecedents, possible consequences, and potential impact at various systemic or community levels, thereby enhancing psychological health and wellbeing (case studies, practicum report);
  4. identify relevant ethical issues that must be considered in developing and applying positive psychology interventions (e.g., culture, gender, age, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, disability, and socioeconomic status) across various population groups and settings (case studies, practicum report).

    Specifically, students will attain and be able to demonstrate the following set of skills (graduate attributes) in relation to this course:
    1. Ethical research and inquiry
    2. Problem-solving
    3. Academic and professional literacy
    4. Written and oral communication
    5. Interpersonal skills
    6. Teamwork
    7. Cultural literacy
    8. Management, planning and organisation skills
    9. Creativity, initiative and enterprise


Description Weighting(%)
1. Introduction to Positive Psychology, its history and theoretical foundations. 5.00
2. The psychology of character strengths and positive traits: theory and applications (e.g. life coaching, organisational development, and education) 10.00
3. Resilience, Happiness, Quality of Life (QoL), and Post Traumatic Growth: theory and evidence. 10.00
4. The new neurosciences: brain plasticity and positive psychology. 10.00
5. Positive psychological assessment: review of models and measures. 15.00
6. Cognitive approaches to applied positive psychology: optimism, hope, self-efficacy, and wellbeing in applied contexts (coaching, schools and organisations). 15.00
7. Emotion-focused approaches to applied positive psychology: life satisfaction, flow, flourishing and positive affectivity. 15.00
8. Positive psychology with special populations and settings: children, families, positive ageing, acquired disabilities, illness, and multicultural contexts. 10.00
9. Building sustainable communities with positive psychology. 5.00
10. Contemporary applications of positive psychology: climate change, terrorism, and future directions. 5.00

Text and materials required to be purchased or accessed

ALL textbooks and materials available to be purchased can be sourced from USQ's Online Bookshop (unless otherwise stated). (

Please contact us for alternative purchase options from USQ Bookshop. (

  • Ong, A.D. & van Dulmen, M.H.M 2007, Oxford Handbook of Methods in Positive Psychology, Oxford University Press, US.
  • Readings will be provided through StudyDesk.

Reference materials

Reference materials are materials that, if accessed by students, may improve their knowledge and understanding of the material in the course and enrich their learning experience.
  • Lopez, S.J.& Snyder, C.R 2003, Positive Psychological Assessment: A Handbook of Models and Measures, American Psychological Association, Washington.
  • Snyder, C.R. & Lopez, S.J 2005, Handbook of Positive Psychology, U.S: Oxford University Press.

Student workload requirements

Activity Hours
Assessments 70.00
Lectures or Workshops 39.00
Private Study 60.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
CASE STUDY 15 25 02 Aug 2013
ESSAY 30 30 23 Aug 2013
PRACTICUM 45 45 18 Oct 2013

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    It is the students' responsibility to attend and participate appropriately in all activities (such as lectures, tutorials, laboratories and practical work) scheduled for them, and to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration.

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    To complete each of the assignments satisfactorily, students must obtain at least 50% of the marks available for each assignment.

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    If students submit assignments after the due date without prior approval then a penalty of 5% of the total marks available for the assignment may apply for each working day late.

  4. Requirements for student to be awarded a passing grade in the course:
    To be assured of receiving a passing grade a student must achieve at least 50% of the available weighted marks for the summative assessment items.

  5. Method used to combine assessment results to attain final grade:
    The final grades for students will be assigned on the basis of the weighted aggregate of the marks (or grades) obtained for each of the summative assessment items in the course.

  6. Examination information:
    There are no examinations in this course.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    Since there are no examinations in this course, there are no supplementary or deferred examinations.

  8. University Student Policies:
    Students should read the USQ policies: Definitions, Assessment and Student Academic Misconduct to avoid actions which might contravene University policies and practices. These policies can be found at

Assessment notes

  1. The due date for an assignment is the date by which a student must despatch the assignment to the USQ. The onus is on the student to provide proof of the despatch date, if requested by the Examiner.

  2. Students must retain a copy of each item submitted for assessment. T his must be produced within five days if required by the Examiner.

  3. Access to email, discussion groups and the internet is a departmental requirement. Students are expected to open their university provided email account and check it regularly for personal communication. Information sent this way will be regarded as being receivable.