Applied Positive Psychology

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'When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down "happy". They told me I didn't understand the assignment, and I told them they didn't understand life'


When being asked the question what do you want most out of life, people from all over the world answer: to be happy! But despite decades of economic growth we are no happier now than sixty years ago. What is happiness and do we really know what makes us happy? Do we give happiness enough priority? Can we influence our own happiness and the happiness of others and how? These (and more) questions are being asked and answered by positive psychologists all over the world and will be addressed in the minor Applied Positive Psychology.

What is Positive Psychology?

Positive Psychology is the scientific study of wellbeing and human flourishing. This new branch on the psychology tree was founded in 2000 by Martin Seligman and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. They were not happy about traditional psychology's emphasis on what is wrong and on weaknesses. Psychology should also look at what is right and at strengths of people. Since then psychologists all over the world started to study happiness, wellbeing and the good life. According to Seligman we can indeed influence our own happiness by changing our actions and by making the right choices. We can flourish individually and together through experiencing positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning and accomplishment (PERMA model of wellbeing, 2011).

Is Applied Positive Psychology a minor for you?

Are you interested in psychology in general and in focussing on solutions and human strengths? Are you interested in why we do the things we do and in how we can change our thoughts and behaviour to become happier? Are you interested in helping people, organizations and communities to flourish and become their 'best possible self'? Are you interested in studying in a multi-cultural community, then you will like this minor!!

Do you want to know more about this exchange programme?

Annemiek Sinnema, coördinator minor Applied Positive Psychology (School of Social Studies) E-mail:


Content of this minor

In this international minor we will look at the scientific knowledge on happiness and wellbeing and at the factors that lead to a sense of wellbeing, meaning and connection. Based on this knowledge we will look further into and develop interventions that can help individuals, organizations, communities and society at large to flourish.


Happiness, wellbeing, resilience, engagement and flow, character strengths, optimism, motivation and goals, gratitude, positive relations, sustainable workplaces and societies, happiness economics, mindfulness and many others.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the semester you will be able to:

  • Describe and explain major relevant theories and areas of research within the field of Positive Psychology;
  • Identify and discuss interventions based on Applied Positive Psychology;
  • Critically reflect on the value of the theories and different interventions on both personal development as well as for professional practice;
  • Apply positive coaching techniques at a basic level;
  • Develop and implement an intervention based upon the knowledge of Positive Psychology for a specific group, organization or community.


The semester will be divided into two ten-week periods. In each period there will be a mixture of lectures, workshops, training days, coaching and project time. 



Course description


Practical information

Once a year in the Spring semester:

  • The Spring semester (SS)

One semester (5 months)

Hanze University of Applied Sciences, School of Social Studies, Groningen, the Netherlands

30 European Credits (ECTS). You can find more information on the grading system on our website.

Admission requirements

  • This minor is open for students from all studies (except Hanze Applied Psychology students);
  • You have a general interest in psychology and in looking for solutions and strengths instead of problems and weaknesses;
  • You are a third or fourth-year student (Bachelor level);
  • You have completed your first year of your education and have obtained at least 45 ECTS in the main phase (year 2, 3 or 4);
  • You will need to work in an international multidisciplinary team and master the English language (graduation level secondary school);
  • Useful additional personal characteristics for participation in an international team are: an open mind, the ability to listen actively, tolerance, flexibility, transparency in motives, interests and values.

Language requirements for international students

  • Academic IELTS 6.5 overall, or
  • internet based TOEFL 550, or
  • Dialang level B2.

Please note that the minor is subject to cancellation if the minimum number of registered students has not been achieved. 


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