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Module PPP-1007:
Learning to be Happy

Module Facts

Run by School of Psychology

10 Credits or 5 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Ms Helena O Boyle

Overall aims and purpose

How do we learn and change our behavior over time? How do we understand behavior, observe and measure it? Why do some individuals learn to be more resilient in the face of life’s challenges than others? How can we learn to enhance our personal strengths, maximise our well-being, and improve our own quality of life – or that of others? The course will focus on aspects of learning, behavior and positive psychology including: antecedents and consequents, schedules of reinforcement, self-management, habits, optimism, strengths, and resilience.

Course content

This module combines the fields of Behavioural Science and Positive Psychology and considers the potential value of understanding the role of learning in happiness. Understanding and facilitating happiness and subjective well-being is the central objective of positive psychology; (Carr, 2003) and can be best achieved through an analysis of behavior. It is both a scientific exercise - understanding happiness and predicting the factors that influence happiness - and an applied exercise - enhancing subjective well-being and happiness in clinical and commercial settings - and the world at large. Behaviour analysis and behavior change can provide pointers of how to face the world in a positive manner and to avoid life's ills.

Assessment Criteria


Adequate answer to the questions, largely based on lecture material. No real development of arguments.


Reasonably comprehensive coverage. Well organised and structured. Good understanding of the material.


Comprehensive and accurate coverage of the area. Clarity of argument and expression. Depth of insight into theorectical issues.

Learning outcomes

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the basic principles and procedures of classical and operant conditioning.

  2. Demonstrate an understanding of how these conditioning principles have been applied to concepts and theories in positive psychology.

  3. Appreciate behavioural research methods.

  4. Understand how the findings from research can be applied in a variety of real-world domains including clinical settings.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
ESSAY Assignment

Students will be required to identify examples of behavioural concepts in films, and then graph data from a clip from a film in which a new behaviour is being learned. Students will conduct a visual analysis of the data. The submission date for this assignment will be confirmed at the start of semester.

ESSAY Final Exam

The exam will be comprised of a range of question types, including multiple choice and short answer questions. This exam will take place in the May exam period.


Teaching and Learning Strategy


Two hour lecture each week

Private study 80

Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.

Subject specific skills

  • Understand the scientific underpinnings of psychology as a discipline.
  • Communicate psychological concepts effectively in written form.
  • Be computer literate for the purpose of processing and disseminating psychological data and information.
  • Retrieve and organise information effectively.
  • Handle primary source material critically.
  • Use effectively personal planning and project management skills.
  • Work effectively under pressure (time pressure, limited resources, etc) as independent and pragmatic learners.
  • Problem-solve by clarifying questions, considering alternative solutions, making critical judgements, and evaluating outcomes.
  • Reason scientifically and demonstrate the relationship between theory and evidence.
  • Carry out empirical studies by operationalizing research questions, generating hypotheses, collecting data using a variety of methods, analysing data using quantitative and/or qualitative methods, and present and evaluate research findings (under appropriate supervision).


Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: