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MA Applied Psychology (Positive and Coaching Psychology)

If you want to make a difference in a new and developing profession, consider this master's. It is one of three Master in Positive Psychology degree courses in the islands of Ireland and Britain, and the only one in Ireland.

We hope to ignite your passion for positive psychology so that you take action on completion to enter the new profession of coaching psychology. And if you do not have a background in psychology, there is a pathway for you too.

Prospectus Page - MA - CKD02 Full-time; CKD08 Part-time

What is the Master's About? The Positive Psychology Movement

The modern Positive Psychology movement was launched when Martin Seligman delivered his presidential address to the American Psychological Association in 1998. We can live lives of comfort, but often we ask; ‘Is this it, is there anything more?” Seligman answered that question with a vision of the Good Life, one that was empirically sound, attractive and achievable. Specifically, we ask what evidence based actions can well functioning people take so that they move to flourishing individuals living in flourishing communities within an overall just society.

His initial focus was on three areas:

  1. Positive experiences, what is happiness, joy, hope etc, how can these be boosted and what is the impact of doing this.
  2. Positive characteristics such as resilience and compassion etc. How can these states be build up and help buffer people against the knocks of life.
  3. Positive institutions – how are the principles of Positive Psychology applied to the schools, universities and workplaces we spend most of our lives.

In 2007 Seligman proposed a vision for Positive Psychology and Coaching. The focus of such an endeavour should be increasing Positive Emotions, deepening Engagement with life through harnessing strengths, and working to increase Meaning in Life so as to increase peoples’ well-being and happiness. The scope of Positive Psychology Coaching has expanded since then, particularly with the advent of Second Wave Positive Psychology, which recognises the role of the negative, and the subtle interactions between positive and negative in people’s lives.

When combined together, Coaching provides a methodology for achieving these aims and objectives, and Positive Psychology in turn provides a particular theoretical basis to Coaching, as well as methodologies for evaluating its impact.

In this master's you will develop theoretical and practical knowledge of Positive Psychology, Coaching competencies and the ability to conduct master's level research in this area.

Who Should Apply?

Six distinct groupings tend apply to the course. Firstly, there are those who want to work as coaching psychologists or positive psychology coaches. Becoming an accredited coach is a two-step process, first academic training, which this course provides. Then joining a coaching organisation and building up hours of practice and supervision.

The second group of people are qualified in one of the helping professions.  In their profession they work to bring about change, and they want to supplement their professional competencies a positive change methodology. Examples of these professions are teachers, nurses, physiotherapists, nutritionists, dietitians youth workers, social workers, occupational therapists, sports coaches etc.

The third group of people work in STEM professions, and have progressed as far as they can within their technical specialism. They want to develop proficiencies in the area of organisational and cultural change, develop as leaders, and take on managerial responsibilities in their organisations.

 A fourth group are interested in sports and performance. In elite sport getting that one percent extra can make the difference between coming first or being among the runners up. Addressing the mental element is one the final avenues, and positive psychology coaching can help bring out top performances.

A fifth group are aiming to complete PhD research in this area. The master's provides them a grounding in area, a training in research methods, and an opportunity to explore a research topic in their thesis.

A final group of people are in a transition,  and this course allows them to discover a pathway where they can fulfil themselves in the context of studying for a master's. 

And within these groups there those who are at early career stages, those who want to change careers mid-way through their professional lives, and those who want a second career, having retired form their first.

And having said all that, no matter what goals people have as they start the masters, they often change direction to a more meaningful purpose during their time with us – and this is how it should be given the coaching people experience during the course.

So, if there was one word which best describes the course – it would be diversity – the student group is make up of men and women of different ages, different backgrounds, countries and cultures. This make for a very lively group, and because people come for different reasons, the sense of rivalry is low and group bonding is high.

How is the profession of Coaching Psychology developing?

Coaching Psychology is a developing profession within the wider field of Psychology. In the Psychological Society of Ireland, it is a Special Interest Group. This is a step on the way to becoming a full Division, where practitioners will be able to term themselves Chartered Coaching Psychologists.

This vision is some way off, so this Master's is for trailblazers, people who initially will design their own jobs and careers, and then go on to become some of the first coaching psychologists in the country, shaping the profession in the years to come.

If you do not have an entry level qualification in Psychology, we hope you will go on to complete a conversion course, such as the Higher Diploma in Applied Psychology.  

The Special Interest Group in Coaching Psychology welcomes applications from coaches who have psychology and non psychology backgrounds.

Of course you do not need to be a psychologist to be a great coach. If you decide not to follow the PSI route you would most likely want to join one of the coaching professional bodies and start following their accreditation routes.  Check what they require, and then determine how the course fulfils these requirements.

Association for Coaching

International Coach Federation

European Mentoring and Coaching Council


Whatever way you decided to go, we hope that this master's level training will be the start of you making a significant contribution to the lives of people in this exciting and developing profession.

School of Applied Psychology

Síceolaíocht Fheidhmeach

Cork Enterprise Centre, North Mall, Cork.,