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Positive Psychology: building happiness and flourishing Short Course

Key information

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Most of us would like to become happier and flourish in life. This course provides evidence-based techniques to enable you to do this. This short course takes a very practical approach. Students will learn evidence-based skills and be encouraged to apply them between sessions.

Why choose this course?

You will learn evidence-based techniques to become happier, be more engaged in life, have more meaning and purpose, enjoy better personal and professional relationships and achieve more.

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

The part-time course is suitable for anyone who wishes to develop professionally or personally. It may be of particular relevance to those who mentor or coach or manage other people but is not limited to these people.

Course overview

You will learn leading-edge ways to develop PERMA: positive emotions, engagement, positive relationships, meaning, purpose and accomplishment.

You will also have the opportunity to reflect on values and learn how CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) can help you become more resilient and move in your valued direction.

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.

The two Positive Psychology courses can be taken in either order and no prior knowledge is required.

We recommend you consider Positive Psychology - becoming the best version of you - which complements this course and starts in May 2018.

  • “ 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

Week 8 Third Wave CBT: Flourishing through ACT

Students will learn about Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), a third wave CBT therapy. ACT provides an  evidence-based framework for learning how to actualise your values and overcome emotional obstacles to so doing.

Reading: Achieve Your Potential With Positive Psychology Chapter 10 (part) and handout

Week 9 Resilience

Students will learn how to overcome adversities, drawing on evidence-based  techniques from CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) which may include problem solving and cognitive restructuring

Reading: Achieve Your Potential With Positive Psychology Chapter 9

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 achieving the meaningful goal they set themselves to achieve earlier in the course.



English requirements

Good written and spoken English.

Teaching & assessment

Teaching & assessment

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

Recommended reading

Recommended reading

Course reader: (students are required to purchase this book)

LeBon, T. (2014) Achieve Your Potential with Positive Psychology

The first book in each section is the tutor's top recommendation.


  • Boniwell, I (2007) Positive Psychology in a Nutshell (London: PWBC)
  • Compton W,C. (2005) Introduction to Positive Psychology (Belmont: Thomson Wadsworth)
  • Seligman, M.(2002) Authentic Happiness (New York: Free Press)
  • Snyder, C.R . & Lopez, S (2002) Handbook of Positive Psychology. (New York: OUP )
  • Linley P. & Joseph, S (2004) Positive Psychology in Practice (Wiley)
  • Carr, A. (2004) Positive Psychology (Hove and New York: Brunner-Routledge)

Happiness and well-being

  • Lyubomirsky, S (2008) The How of Happiness (Sphere)
  • Gilbert, D (2006) Stumbling on Happiness (Harper)
  • Haidt, J. (2006) The Happiness Hypothesis (London: Arrow)
  • Nettle, D. (2005) Happiness (Oxford: OUP)
  • Ben-Shahar, T (2007) Happier: Finding Pleasure, Meaning and Life's Ultimate Currency (McGraw-Hill)
  • Weiner, E (2008) The Geography of Bliss (Twelve)
  • Layard, R  (2006) Happiness (London: Penguin)
  • Argyle, M. (2001) The Psychology of Happiness (London: Routledge)
  • Eysenck, M (1990) Happiness (L.E.A)
  • Myers, D.M. (1992) The Pursuit of Happiness (New York: Morrow)
  • Keyes, C  and Haidt , J (ed) (2003) Flourishing: Positive Psychology and the Life Well-Lived


  • Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990) Flow: The Psychology of optimal experience
  • Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1997) Finding Flow


  • Rath, T. (2007) Strengths Finder (New York, Gallup)
  • Bolt, M  (2004) Pursuing Human Strengths: A Positive Psychology Guide (Worth)
  • Peterson, C & Seligman, M  (2004) Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification (OUP)
  • Aspinall, L. & Staudinger, U. (2003) A Psychology of Human Strengths (Washington, APA)

Emotions, Emotional Intelligence and Resilience

  • Goleman, D. (1995) Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ (New York: Bantam)
  • Reivich, K., & Shatte, A. (2002). The Resilience Factor (New York: Broadway Books.)
  • Goleman, D. (1998) Working with Emotional Intelligence (New York: Bantam)
  • Epstein,S (1998) Constructive Thinking: The Key to Emotional Intelligence (Westport, Praeger)
  • Barr-On, R & Parker, J (2000) The Handbook of Emotional Intelligence (Jossey-Bass)

The positive psychology of Buddhism and Mindfulness

  • Levine, M. (2000) The Positive Psychology of Buddhism & Yoga (LEA)
  • Goleman, D. (2003) Destructive Emotions (London: Bloomsbury)
  • H.H Dalai Lama & Cutler, H (1998) The Art of Happiness (London, Hodder and Stoughton)
  • Benson, H. (1975) The Relaxation Response (New York: William Morrow)
  • Kabat-Zinn, J. (2005) Full Catastrophe Living (London: Piatkus)
  • Langer, E (1989) Mindfulness (Perseus)
  • Ricard, M  (2007) Happiness (Atlantic)

Hope, Optimism and Luck

  • Seligman, M (1991) Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life. New York: Pocket Books
  • Snyder, C.R  (2000) Handbook of Hope. Orlando FL: Academic Press
  • Gillham, J (2000) The Science of Optimism and Hope. Philadelphia, PA: Templeton Foundation Press
  • Wiseman, R.  2004) The Luck Factor (Arrow)

Positive Relationships - Love and Friendship

  • Gottmann, J. & Silver, N. (1999) The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work (London: Orion)
  • Sternberg, R, (1988) The Triangle of Love (New York: Basic)

Wisdom and Decision-making

  • Sternberg, R. & Jordan, J. (2005) A Handbook of Wisdom (Cambridge: CUP)

Philosophy relevant to Positive Psychology

  • Aristotle (2004) Nicomachean Ethics (Penguin)
  • Russell, B. (2006) The Conquest of Happiness (Routledge)
  • Fromm, E (1995) The Art of Loving (Thorsons)
  • LeBon, T (2001) Wise Therapy (London: Sage)
  • Bellioti, R (2004) Happiness is Overrated (Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield)
  • Schoch, R (2007) The Secrets of Happiness (London: Profile)
  • Revel, J-F & Ricard, M (1998) The Monk and the Philosopher (New York: Schocken)

Self-Help books relevant to Positive Psychology

  • (Note: Not all are based on peer-reviewed empirical research, but are nevertheless included because they contain interesting ideas that may be the starting point for research).
  • LeBoef, M. (1980) Creative Thinking (London: Piatkus)
  • Buzan, T  (2000) The Mind Map Book. London: BBC
  • Buzan, T  (2000) Use Your Head. London: BBC
  • de Bono, E. (1982) de Bono's Thinking Course. London: BBC Book
  • de Bono, E . (2000) Six Thinking Hats. London: Penguin
  • Gelb, M (2004) How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci. Element Books
  • Harris, R. (1998) Creative Thinking Techniques
  • Osborn, A. (1953) Applied Imagination. New York: Scribners
  • Rawlinson, J. (1986) Creative Thinking and Brainstorming. London: Gower
  • Hammond, J, Keeney, R & Raiffi, H (1999) Smart Choices (Boston: Harvard)
  • Paterson, R.  (2000) The Assertiveness Workbook (Oakland: New Harbinger)
  • Sharma, R (1997) The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari (Ontario: Harper Collins)
  • Popovic, N. (2005) Personal Synthesis. (London: PWBC.)
  • Branden, N. (2004) The Six Pillars of self-esteem (Random House)
  • Clegg, B & Birch, P (1999) Instant Creativity (Kogan Page)

Positive Psychology Coaching and Interventions

  • Biswas-Diener, R & Dean, B (2007) Positive Psychology Coaching. (New Jersey, WIley)
  • Frisch, M. (2006) Quality of Life Therapy (New Jersey: Wiley)
  • Lopez, S.  (Editor), C.R. Snyder (Editor) (2004) Positive Psychological Assessment: Handbook of Models and Measures (Washington: APA)

Precursors to Positive Psychology

  • Levinson, D. (1986) Seasons of a Man's Life (New York: Ballantine)
  • Maslow, A. (1987) Motivation and Personality (Longman)
  • Vaillant, G.E. (1995) Adaption to Life (Harvard University Press,)
  • Bowlby, J. (1971) Attachment and Loss Volume 1: Attachment Penguin Books, Harmondsworth

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.