Positive Psychology: becoming the best version of you  Short Courses

Course Information

Start DateStart TimeDurationCostCourse CodeApply
Thursday 3 May 2018 18:30 - 20:30 10 weekly classes £440.00 CS1942 Apply Now

Course Content

Positive Psychology provides evidence-based techniques to enable you to do become the best version of yourself. You will learn leading-edge ways to develop strengths and virtues, such as wisdom, self-control, courage and fairness. You will also learn about mindfulness and compassion and how to be more self-compassionate. Required reading is set between classes. Weekly classes encourage discussion of these ideas and practical exercises are given to aid self-development. Students also have the option of giving a short presentation in class. You should be able to commit to 2 hours’ work between classes. The two Positive Psychology courses can be taken in either order and no prior knowledge is required.

Why choose the Positive Psychology short course?

Apply positive psychology to your personal and professional life over 10 weekly evening classes with our short course.

Through encouragement from the course tutor, students will learn techniques to enable them to realise their full potential, as well assess their individual experiences within the context of positive psychology.

Tutor Info

Tim LeBon gained a first class degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Trinity College, Oxford and an M.Phil in Philosophy at the University of London. He teaches philosophy, personal development and counselling courses and has a particular interest in the way that philosophy and psychology can be of practical use. He is qualified as a life coach and a psychotherapist and is the author of Wise Therapy: Philosophy for Counsellors (Sage, 2001) and Achieve Your Potential with Positive Psychology  (2014)

English Requirements

Good written and spoken English.

What will I learn?

Course Content

Note: This is indicative of likely content and is subject to change

Week 1 Introduction: Positive Psychology and becoming the best version of You

This week we will look at course themes – what is positive psychology, what do we mean by “the best version of you” and how in Positive Psychology this relates to character strengths and virtues.  Peterson & Seligman’s VIA model will be introduced and students will be asked to choose one strength or quality they would especially like to develop  during the course.

Reading to be done before this week: Achieve Your Potential With Positive Psychology Introduction

Week 2: Character Strengths and Virtues

We will look in further detail at the VIA strengths classification of strengths and virtues. Students will take the VIA strength test and explore the importance and structure of the VIA framework and the idea of “virtues” in general.

Reading: Achieve Your Potential With Positive Psychology Chapter 4

Week 3: Wisdom

In Week 3 we will look at qualities useful to acquire and use knowledge. We will explore psychological and philosophical ideas about “wisdom”, including Practical Wisdom and also ways to become wiser.

Reading: Achieve Your Potential With Positive Psychology Chapters 11

Week 4: Self-control & Willpower

In Week 4 we will look at the qualities which protect us from desire and excess, namely self-control and willpower. Students will learn about evidence-based techniques which can foster self-control and will be asked to experiment with these as an assignment.

Reading: Handout to be provided

Week 5: Courage & Grit

In Week 5 we will look at the character qualities which help us overcome fear and other difficulties, especially courage and grit. We will look at psychologist Biswas-Diener’s ideas about how to be courageous and Angela Duckworth’s theory of  grit.

Reading: Handout to be provided

Week 6: Justice & Fairness

In week 6 we will look at the character qualities which  help us live well in a community and how to foster these qualities.

Reading : Handout to be provided

Week 7: Compasion & Strengths of Humanity

In week 7 we will look at interpersonal strengths such as compassion , kindness and social intelligence. We will look at their importance as well as ways to increase them.

Reading: Achieve your Potential with Positive Psychology p112-114 & handout

Week 8, Transcendence: including hope, gratitude & spirituality

In week 8 we will look at those strengths which help us connect with things larger than us, such as hope, gratitude and spirituality. We will look at whether spirituality necessarily involves religion , at the benefits of these strengths, and at ways to increase them

Reading: Achieve your Potential with Positive Psychology: Chapter 2 (p 26-28, 83, 87-89, 97-116)

Week 9: Mindfullness & Self-compassion

In the  penultimate week we look at mindfulness and self-compassion which are best seen as attitudes and practices which help foster many of the other strengths. We will look at their benefits and how to develop them.

Reading Achieve Your Potential With Positive Psychology Chapter 10

Week 10: Conclusions

In the final week we will draw together threads from the course and discuss next steps. Students will also have the opportunity to do a short presentation relating to  the quality they chose to develop in week 1.

Reading Achieve Your Potential With Positive Psychology Chapter 12

Teaching and Assessment

  • A short presentation to the class.
  • Answers to weekly assignments.
  • Contributions to class discussions.

Recommended Reading

Handouts will be put on Dropbox each week. list  Students are required to purchase Achieve your potential with Positive Psychology , the main course reader. Other readings are optional.

General & Background to Virtues

Compton W,C. (2005)  Introduction to Positive Psychology Sound introduction

Devettere, R. (2002)  Introduction to Virtue Ethics: Insights of the Ancient Greeks

LeBon, T. (2014) Achieve your potential with Positive Psychology  (Main course reader)

Haidt, J. (2006)The Happiness Hypothesis  - good on philosophy & psychology of happiness, flourishing & virtue

Kristjansson, K. (2013) Virtues and Vices in Positive Psychology

Linley P. & Joseph,S  (2004) Positive Psychology in Practice Another collection of essays

Peterson, C (2006) A Primer in Positive Psychology (OUP) More detailed than the first 3 books.

Rogers, G & Hamer, J (1996) Benjamin Franklin's the Art of Virtue: His Formula for Successful Living

Seligman, M. (2002) Authentic Happiness –“father of positive psychology”’s self-help book

Snyder, C.R . & Lopez, S (2011) Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology. Large collection of essays

Tiberius, V (2015). Moral Psychology, A contemporary Introduction

Welchman, Y, (2006) The Practice of Virtue, Classic & Contemporary Readings

Wiseman, R. (2009) 59 Seconds Wiseman is a UK psychologist who is well worth reading – see also his web site https://richardwiseman.wordpress.com/


Buckingham, M. & Clifton, D. (2005) Now, Discover your Strengths

Bolt, M  (2004)  Pursuing Human Strengths: A Positive Psychology Guide (Worth) – good book covering love, empathy, wisdom, self-control, friendship and hope.

Linley, A (2009) . From Average to A+ (Capp Press) Founder of the Realise2 Model

describes the model.

Linley,A et al. (2010)  The Strengths Book (Capp Press)

Niemiec, R. (2013) Mindfulness and Character Strengths. The author is the main VIA researcher and this is a very readable and comprehensive book on both strengths and mindfulness and how they can reinforce each other

Peterson, C & Seligman, M  (2004)  Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification (OUP) Encyclopaedic  outcome of massive research project which laid the foundation for the VIA work on strengths.

Rath, T. (2007)  StrengthsFinder 2.0  (New York, Gallup) Describes the Gallup model.


Aristotle (various editions) Nicomachean Ethics

Baltes. P. (2004) Wisdom as Orchestration of Mind and Virtue Available only as a free pdf at http://library.mpib-berlin.mpg.de/ft/pb/PB_Wisdom_2004.pdf

Evans, J. (2012) Philosophy for Life and other Dangerous Situations

Germer, C. & Segal, R. (2012) Wisdom and Compassion in Psychotherapy

Hall, S. (2010) Wisdom: from philosophy to neuroscience

Hammond, J., Keeney, R. & Raiffi, H. (1999) Smart Choices

Irvine, W. (2009) A Guide to the Good Life [the ancient art of Stoic Joy]

LeBon, T. (2001) Wise Therapy

LeBon, T. & Arnaud, D. (2012). ‘Existential Coach­ing and Major Life Decisions’, In E. Van Deurzen & M. Hanaway (Eds.) (2012). Existential Perspec­tives on Coaching (pp. 47-59)

Schwartz, B (2005) The Paradox of Choice: Why Less is More

Schwartz, B (2011) & Sharpe, K Practical Wisdom: The Right Way to do the Right Thing

Sternberg, R.  & Jordan, J. (2005) A Handbook of Wisdom

Ussher,P (ed) (2014 & 2016) Stoicism Today : Selected readings Volumes  1 & 2

Self-Control & Willpower

McGonigal, K (2012) Maximum Willpower: How to master the new science of self-control

Ryan, F. (2014) Willpower for Dummies

Baumeister, R and Tierney, J. (2011) Willpower: Rediscovering  Our Greatest Strength

Martela. F (2013) Willlpower: The Owners Manual

Mischel, W.  (2015) The MarshMallow Test; Understanding self-control and how to master it


Biswas-Diener,R. (2012) The Courage Quotient

Pury, C & Lopez, S. (ed) (2010) The Psychology of Courage

Christensene, L  (2014) Mental Rehearsal for Warriors

Duckworth, A. (2016) Grit: the power of passion & perserverance

Transendence: Hope, Optimism & Spirituality & Meaning

Emmons, R.  (2013) Gratitude Works!  A 21 day Programme for Creating Emotional Prosperity

Seligman, M.  (1998) Learned Optimism: How to Change your Mind and Your Life

Snyder. C (2006) Approaching Hope published online at http://www.sgiquarterly.org/feature2006Jan-2.html

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