Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Unit rationale, description and aim

Psychology as a discipline has many areas of study. The clinical area of psychology has traditionally focused on psychopathology and the treatment of mental disorders, and has paid less attention to human resources and internal strengths.

Positive psychology explores the scientific study of well-being and flourishing in the human experience. It examines a range of areas such as positive emotions, engagement, creativity, optimism, gratification, strengths, virtues, and meaning. This unit is experiential and project-based, where students will learn to critically evaluate the research literature; participate in positive psychological interventions; and develop professionally relevant skills and experience in the positive psychology field. The aim of the unit is to provide students with an understanding of how the scope of psychology has recently been broadened beyond the traditional curative and reactive response to pathology, to a modern preventative and proactive approach to well-being.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

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

LO1 - describe and differentiate key conceptual frameworks and interventions underpinning positive psychology (GA4, GA8);

LO2 - distinguish between problem-focused and strengths-based approaches to mental health and well-being (GA4, GA8);

LO3 - apply a strengths-based approach to specific mental health issues (GA1, GA3);

LO4 - apply a variety of positive psychology interventions to enhance well-being (GA1, GA2, GA5, GA10).

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity 

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA10 - utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively.


Topics will include: 

  • introduction to positive psychology; 
  • psychology flow; 
  • spirituality and well-being; 
  • positive emotions; 
  • emotional intelligence; 
  • optimism and hope; 
  • resilience; 
  • positive psychology theories and interventions;  
  • prevention and enhancement; 
  • positive relationships; 
  • creativity; and 
  • future of positive psychology. 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit will use an experiential approach to the teaching/learning process and students will be required to undertake a range of activities to explore the critical issues. Twelve (12) weekly classes will be delivered face-to-face for three (3) contact hours per week including a 2-hour lecture and a 1-hour tutorial. The teaching and learning strategies are structured on the principles of experiential and adult learning that aims to facilitate the integration of theory and practice.  Learning and teaching strategies include active learning, case studies, enquiry based learning, and project based learning, which are designed to enhance discussion and promote analysis, synthesis and evaluation of class content.

Assessment strategy and rationale

Standards-based assessment tasks for this unit are designed for students to demonstrate their acquisition of knowledge; the application of that knowledge; and achievement of each learning outcome. In order to successfully complete this unit, students will need to complete and submit all Assessment Tasks. In addition, they must obtain an aggregate mark of at least 50%. The practical report will provide an opportunity for students to examine a real-life situation and the application of positive psychological interventions. The essay will help students to develop and organise their thinking about key concepts and issues in positive psychology; consolidate their learning; and communicate this effectively. A final exam will provide the opportunity for students to demonstrate their learning and knowledge of key concepts.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Practical Report 


Enables students to examine and apply an intervention. 


LO1, LO4

GA1, GA2, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA10

Practical Report 


Enables students to examine and apply an intervention. 


LO2, LO3

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA5

Final Exam   


Enables students to demonstrate learning and knowledge of key concepts.


LO1,  LO4

GA4, GA8

Representative texts and references

Compton, W. C., & Hoffman, E. (2013). Positive psychology: The science and happiness of flourishing (2nd. Ed.), Wadsworth Cengage Learning.  

Fredrickson, B. L. (2001). The role of positive emotions in positive psychology: The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions. American Psychologist56(3), 218-226. 

Fredrickson, B. L., Cohn, M. A., Coffey, K. A., Pek, J., Finkel, S. M. (2008). Open hearts build lives: Positive emotions, induced through loving-kindness meditation, build consequential personal resources. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology95(5), 1045-1062. 

Gander, F., Proyer, R. T., Ruch, W. & Wyss, T. (2013). Strength-based positive interventions: Further evidence for their potential in enhancing wellbeing and alleviating depression. Journal of Happiness Studies12, 1241-1259. 

Park, N., Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Strengths of character & wellbeing. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 23(5), 603-619. 

Peterson, C. (2000). The future of optimism. American Psychologist55(1), 44-55. 

Privette, G. (1983). Peak experience, peak performance, and flow: A comparative analysis of positive human experiences. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology45(6), 1361-1368. 

Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and wellbeing. American Psychologist, 55(1), 68-78. 

Seligman, M. E. P., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology: An introduction. American Psychologist, 55(1), 5-14.

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