Understanding the experiences of positive life changes during postgraduate study on a Masters in Applied Positive Psychology programme: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis

Christian Jun van Nieuwerburgh, Agnieszka M. Lech


There is a global increase in the teaching of positive psychology at postgraduate level. Anecdotally, it has been suggested that university-based positive psychology programmes can be “life changing”. This exploratory qualitative study aimed to enhance our understanding of the positive life experiences of students registered on a Masters in Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) programme. The researcher interviewed five postgraduate students undertaking a MAPP at the University of East London. Interpretative phenomenological analysis was used to identify emerging themes before these were analysed and clustered into a number of overarching themes. Participants reported experiencing a number of positive life changes as a result of the MAPP programme. Key themes that emerged were the sense that there were “myriad different thoughts and potential opportunities”; that studying positive psychology was “like coming home”; that participants enjoyed having time for reflection; and the sense that “it’s all about the people”.  This study raised the question of whether the MAPP programme could, in itself, be considered a positive psychological intervention.



MAPP, positive life changes, postgraduate, interpretative phenomenological analysis

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