A full day of talks exploring the science, psychology and philosophy of human potential.

What can the moon landings teach us about making our biggest dreams a reality?

What has the new science of positive psychology revealed about how human beings actualise their full potential?

Can an existential approach to life help you become more of who you are?

These are just some of the questions we’ll explore at The Weekend University this month. In this series of talks, we’ll discuss: 

  • Existential Approaches to Human Development; how the work of Nietzsche, Kierkegaard and Sartre can help you live with greater authenticity, and increase your sense of meaning and purpose in life – Martin Adams
  • Positive Psychology and Human Potential; how you can apply practical insights from peer reviewed studies to consciously grow as a human being and get more of what you want in life – Vanessa King
  • The Apollo Mindset; the psychological forces behind one of humanity’s greatest achievements, and how you can use them to achieve your most important goals  – Professor Richard Wiseman

You’ll learn how these unique insights can help you actualise more of your potential, but also how to help others do the same.

Want to give this experience as a gift to someone else? Check out our gift vouchers.

Event Schedule:

  • 10:00am – 12:00pm: Existential Approaches to Human Development – Martin Adams 
  • 12:00 – 1:00pm: Lunch break
  • 1:00pm – 3:00pm: Positive Psychology & Human Potential – Vanessa King
  • 3:00pm – 3:30pm: Afternoon break
  • 3:30pm – 5:00pm: The Apollo Mindset – Professor Richard Wiseman
  • 5:20pm – 7:00pm: Attendee Social & Networking (Optional)

Full Day Pass: £39.44 + VAT + booking fee

Student Pass: £20.25 + VAT + booking fee


Sun 29 September 2019
09:30 – 17:00 BST

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29/09/2019 09:30 AM
29/09/2019 5:00 PM
Birkbeck, University of London, London
The Weekend University – A Day On Potential

Birkbeck, University of London,
Malet Street, Bloomsbury,
London, WC1E 7HX

Lectures & Speakers

Existential Approaches to Human Development – Martin Adams

What is life for, existentially? We are born and then we die and our life task is to make something of the time in between with no way of knowing how long we have got.  

In living towards an unknown future we are challenged daily with the paradox that while life will always be a mystery, it is this that makes life worth living.

So, what do we mean when we say that human beings develop, and what are the limits to human potential?

In the first part of this talk, Martin will look at what six existential philosophers, Søren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Simone de Beauvoir have said about how we become who we are.

In the second part, he will draw out some common themes and relate these to everyday life and by implication, to therapeutic practice.  

Reading Recommendations:

  • Adams, M. (2018) An Existential Approach To Human Development: Philosophical And Therapeutic Perspectives. London: Palgrave 
  • Stolorow, R. (2007) Trauma and Human Existence: Autobiographical, Psychoanalytic and Philosophical Reflections. New York: The Analytic Press.
  • Sartre, J-P (1961) Words. London: Penguin.
  • Crawford, M. (2010) The Case for Working with Your Hands: or Why Office Work is Bad for Us and Fixing Things Feels Good. London: Penguin.
  • de Beauvoir, S. (2015) The Ethics of Ambiguity (trans. B. Frechtman). New York: Citadel (First published 1947).

Martin Adams is an existential psychotherapist, lecturer, supervisor and writer. 

He is a visiting lecturer at Regents University and the New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling in London.

Martin is the author of several books, including: ‘A Concise Introduction to Existential Counselling’, ‘Skills in Existential Counselling and Psychotherapy’ which he co-authored with Emmy van Deurzen, and most recently: An Existential Approach to Human Development’, which was published by Palgrave in 2018.

He has contributed to Case Studies in Existential Therapy and to the Wiley World Handbook for Existential Therapy. In his spare time, he is also a sculptor.

Positive Psychology & Human Potential – Vanessa King

Positive psychology, or the ‘science of optimal human functioning’ as it was originally termed by psychologists Dr Martin Seligman and Dr Mihalyi Cziskmihayli, emerged at the turn of this century as a focus of scientific research. Traditionally the field of psychology had predominantly studied how the mind worked and how it goes wrong i.e. the causes, cures and management of psychological dysfunction. Although this was important, it wasn’t the full picture. Relatively little research attention had been given to what enables human beings to both feel and function at their best and if and why that really matters. 

In the last twenty years however, there has been an exponential increase in the publication of peer reviewed studies in this area. A growing evidence base is emerging that can help us understand how we can make the most of ourselves, live happy and fulfilling lives and enable our societies to flourish. In this talk, Vanessa King will provide an overview of some key concepts from positive psychology and some practical ways these can be applied to help you realise more of your potential, and also how to help others do the same.

Reading Recommendations:

  • King, V. (2016) Ten Keys to Happier Living. London: Headline
Vanessa King - The Weekend University

Vanessa is an author, speaker and Board member of Action for Happiness, the leading UK-based not-for-profit that focuses on proactively building skills for psychological wellbeing and resilience. She leads the translation of psychological research into practical action for individuals, organisations and communities, as well as Action for Happiness’ consulting work with organisations. 

She is one of a small group people globally to have completed a Masters degree in Applied Positive Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, studying under Martin Seligman, Adam Grant, and Mihalyi Csikzentmihalyi. 

She speaks internationally, and has given two TEDx talks as well as a Guardian Masterclass. Her work has been featured in the Sunday Telegraph, the Financial Times, the Sunday Express, and the Huffington Post. 

Vanesa is the author of two books on positive psychology: The 10 Keys to Happier Living, and 50 Ways to Feel Happy. You can follow her on twitter @changespace

The Apollo Mindset – Professor Richard Wiseman

20th July 1969: Neil Armstrong becomes the first person to walk on the Moon. We all recognize this to be one of mankind’s greatest achievements. Yet what did it take to make John F. Kennedy’s dream a reality?

In this talk, Professor Richard Wiseman will present a pioneering study of the mindset that took humanity to the Moon, and show you how you can harness and use it to achieve the extraordinary in your everyday life. Through personal interviews, mission archives and cutting-edge psychology, you’ll learn the eight key principles that make up the Apollo Mindset, and discover a series of practical techniques that you can use to incorporate these winning principles into both your professional and personal life. 

Whether you want to start a business venture, change careers, find your perfect partner, raise a loving family, get promoted, gain a new qualification, escape the rat race, or pursue a lifelong passion, these techniques will help you to reach your own Moon.

Reading Recommendations:

  • Wiseman, R. (2019) Shoot for the Moon. London: Quercus 
  • Wiseman, R. (2009) 59 Seconds: Think a little, change a lot. London: Macmillan
  • Wiseman, R. (2004) The Luck Factor. London: Arrow Books.
Richard Wiseman - The Weekend University

Professor Richard Wiseman is a psychologist, magician, author and Britain’s only professor for the Public Understanding of Psychology.  

With an international reputation for his research into unusual areas including deception, luck, humour and the paranormal, he is the psychologist most frequently quoted by the British media and his research has been featured on over 150 television programmes. 

Described by Scientific American Magazine as ‘one of the most innovative experimental psychologists in the world today’, Professor Wiseman has presented keynote addresses to organisations such as The Swiss Economic Forum, Google and Amazon.

He is the author of several bestselling books which have sold over 3 million copies worldwide and been translated into over 30 languages, including the ‘Luck Factor’, ‘59 seconds’, and most recently ‘Shoot for the Moon’. You can follow him on twitter @RichardWiseman

What TWU attendees are saying:

    5 star review  Yesterday, I attended Weekend University's 'A Day on the Self' and was delighted to find that the high standard set by previous WU days had been maintained. The three excellent speakers, from different disciplines, painted a broad canvas on the Self, and by the end of the day I came away with a comprehensive picture that will certainly stimulate my further thought on the subject. Who 'I'am. Is it 'Me' writing this review? After yesterday, I'm not sure anymore! Thank you Niall for organising another great day of learning - and looking forward to next month's A Day On Neuroscience...

    Roy Lane Avatar Roy Lane
    March 26, 2018

    positive review  Finally managed to make it to my first session with TWU. Impressed with the calibre of the speakers . The length of time for each was enough to cover a lot of ground, but not too long to feel stretched. Well organised by Niall. Look forward to coming back.

    Calum Byers Avatar Calum Byers
    June 5, 2018

    4 star review  Great initiative! For people that like myself are passionate about psychology but wouldn't commit to long term course or training it's a wonderful opportunity to listen to qualified professionals in the area in a relaxed atmosphere.

    Carolina Abicair Avatar Carolina Abicair
    February 28, 2018
TWU 100% Money Back Guarantee

The Weekend University seeks to guarantee an excellent learning experience. If you are not fully satisfied with the day, you will receive 100% of your money back, and we will cover the cost of your travel to and from the venue.