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Positive Psychology: becoming the best version of you Short Courses

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Key information

Course code:

City’s Positive Psychology short course provides evidence-based techniques to enable you to become the best version of yourself.

Why choose this course?

You will learn many skills that are useful both for professional and personal development. These include:

  • how to build and set effective goals,
  • how to be resilient,
  • how to be happy,
  • how to improve relationships
  • how to identify and use personal strengths.

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

Course overview

You will learn leading-edge techniques to develop strengths and virtues such as wisdom, self-control, courage and fairness. They 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. You also have the option of giving a short presentation in class.

  • “ Hugely enjoyable course…I liked the informal style, content and group participation. ”

    Sheila B.

    Former student

What will I learn?

What will I learn?

The 10 week course will cover the following and will be discussed in further detail during the first class.

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

Week 1: Introduction: Positive Psychology, happiness and flourishing

This week will introduce the main themes of the course – What is positive psychology? What do we mean by flourishing? What is happiness?  Martin Seligman’s PERMA model  of flourishing will be introduced. students will be asked to think of a meaningful goal they will work on to achieve by the end of the course.

Reading : Achieve Your Potential With Positive Psychology:  Introduction

Week 2: Accomplishment & Achievement

We will look at theories relating to how to become an expert, developing a growth mindset, SMART goals. A framework will be introduced based on these ideas to help students achieve their goals.

Core Reading (to be done before this week): Achieve Your Potential With Positive Psychology Chapter   5 (for each week there is reading to be carried out before the class and optional supplementary reading will be suggested )

Week 3: Happiness & Positive Emotions

We will look at the psychology of happiness and positive emotions, including Fredrickson’s Broaden and Build theory and attempt to answer the important question “what makes people happier?”  Empirically-supported interventions which have been shown to make people happier will be described and students will be invited to try them out for themselves.

Reading: Achieve Your Potential  With Positive Psychology Chapters 1 & 2

Week 4: Meaning & Purpose

We will look at the psychology of meaning and purpose, from Viktor Frankl  to Martin Seligman as well as the psychology of kindness.

Reading: Achieve Your Potential With Positive Psychology Chapter 6

Week 5: Flow

We will look at the psychology of flow – being “in the zone” and fully engaged in what you are doing, based on Csikszentmihalyi ‘s seminal work. We will also look at the connection between flow and using your strengths.

Reading: Achieve Your Potential With Positive Psychology Chapter 7

Week 6: Positive Relationships

We will look at the psychology of positive relationships – including romantic relationships and friendships and working relationship, drawing on the theories of Sternberg & Gottman.

Reading : Achieve Your Potential With Positive Psychology Chapter 8

Week 7: Values and Flourishing

Having looked at the 5 elements of flourishing according to Seligman’s PERMA theory earlier in the course, we will now take a step back and look at flourishing in the round. Students will have the opportunity to engage in values clarification and learn about other theories of flourishing and well-being

Reading: Achieve Your Potential With Positive Psychology Chapter 3



English requirements

Good written and spoken English.

Teaching & assessment

Teaching & assessment

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.

You will be required to deliver:

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

Recommended reading

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


  • 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
  • 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

Tutor information

  • Tim LeBon

    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.

    Tim is a 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)

    Tim has been teaching psychology, philosophy and personal and development courses for over 20 years. As a practising life coach and psychotherapist, Tim is known form making complicated ideas simple and for teaching how to apply these ideas in practice.

Next steps

This Positive Psychology Short Course focuses on the positive. Learn to harness your strengths, a positive mindset and create happiness in your personal and working life.…