New Coursera positive psychology courses have recently been launched on the massive open online course platform (MOOC) by the University of Pennsylvania in the USA available for learners worldwide.

Entitled ‘Positive Psychology: Well-being for life”, the specialisation offers five courses to teach students the key theories and research in the field of positive psychology and its applications.

Positive psychology is a burgeoning field of the psychological science which focuses on strengths that enable individuals, communities and organisations to thrive.

According to the university’s Positive Psychology Center, “the field is founded on the belief that people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, to cultivate what is best within themselves, and to enhance their experiences of love, work, and play.”

In a recent email to potential learners, the university’s Zellerbach Family Professor of Psychology Dr Martin Seligman said: "I am thrilled to share with you that Foundations of Positive Psychology, our online specialisation offered by Coursera, is now available and open for enrollment."

Courses offered

Martin E. P. Seligman’s Visionary Science

This course explores the past, present and future of positive psychology as led by Dr Seligman, renowned worldwide as the ‘Father of Positive Psychology’, and his colleagues at the university.

Applications and Interventions

This course is taught by Director of Education and Senior Scholar Dr James Pawelski and explores the theory, research and practice of positive psychology interventions. Learners will be provided with basic tools to use and measure positive psychology in professional and personal settings.

Character, Grit and Research Methods

The university's Christopher H.

Browne Distinguished Professor of Psychology Dr Angela Duckworth and ImpactED Director Dr Claire Robertson-Kraft are the instructors in the course which teaches learners how to apply research methods to their positive psychology study.

Resilience Skills

Students will learn how to apply intervention skills in their professional and personal life.

They will be exposed to cognitive strategies to manage anxieties and increase positive emotion. Learners will also learn critical relationship enhancement skills. The university's Director of Training Programmes Dr Karen Reivich delivers the course.

Specialisation Project: Design Your Life for Well-being

In this course, Dr Seligman will recap all the key concepts from the first four courses and brings them to practice to help learners develop and test a new intervention for an audience of their choice.

What they say

Learners expressed positive reactions to the course, with one of them saying: "I found this course incredibly interesting and eye-opening. I would be thrilled to be able to find ways to put what I have learned in practice, both in my personal as well as my professional life.

Another anonymous student said: "Excellent Course! Opened my eyes (and heart) up to the possibilities of applying positive psychology in the work I do for others. I am eager to learn more!"

Yet another said: "I found this course to be useful and powerful in creating new (for me) perspectives in psychology. I also found it hopeful and inspiring, solutions-focused and simple. It gave a really good deal of self-focus type information - the kind that makes you want to know more and also makes you feel more grounded in your own identity."

After completing the five courses, learners will receive a certificate signed by all the instructors.

Coursera is a favourite destination for people from all walks of life, including university graduates, who are facing difficulty in finding employment, to re-skill or enhance their knowledge base.

Many of the Coursera courses are free, thus providing a somewhat informal but structured educational experience for those who question the current formal system.