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Designing Your Life - SEM1


Topics: Life design, Design Thinking, job market preparation, career development, creativity, networking.
Disciplines: Psychology, Career development, Design.
Skills: Oral communication, Written communication, Societal awareness, Reflecting, Resilience

Admission requirements

This course is an (extracurricular) Honours Class: an elective course within the Honours College programme. Third year students who don’t participate in the Honours College, have the opportunity to apply for a Bachelor Honours Class. Students will be selected based on i.a. their motivation and average grade.


Have you known since childhood what you wanted to be when you would grow up? Congratulations, you are a lucky individual and this class is probably not for you.

For everyone else, this Honours Class will teach you how to apply the method of Design Thinking to design the most challenging and interesting project you will face: your life.

You will first learn how to identify energy patterns and build a compass to give you direction in your life design. Subsequently, you will brainstorm about multiple futures for yourself and prototype them through experiences and network conversations. Learning how to adopt the mindset of a designer is just as important, though, as designers know that perfection is unattainable, failure is a normal part of the process and that they can rely on their creativity to come up with new solutions. Consequently, and because creative confidence helps to deal with negative beliefs about the future, this course also pays attention to developing your creativity.

This course uses literature from the domains of design, psychology and career development, and relies on smaller sub-groups within class - guided by a peer mentor - to stimulate discussions on a personal level. Through various (journaling) exercises and network conversations, you will expand your comfort zone and gain more clarity and confidence on how you can design your future.

Course objectives:

Upon successful completion of this course, students will:

  • Understand core concepts about career development;

  • Be able to apply the method of Design Thinking to their own life path;

  • Have increased their creative confidence;

  • Have fewer dysfunctional thoughts about their career.

Programme and timetable:

The class will take place on the following Fridays from 11.00 - 13.00 and attendance is mandatory.

Session 1: 29 September, 2023 (Lipsius building, room 2.28)
Design Thinking & Life Design Dashboard

Session 2: 6 October, 2023 (Lipsius building, room 2.28)
Dysfunctional beliefs reframe & intro Odyssey Visions

Session 3: 13 October, 2023 (Lipsius building, room 2.28)
Odyssey Visions & Living LinkedIn

Session 4: 20 October, 2023 (Lipsius building, room 2.28)
Prototype conversations mini-training & intro Energy mapping

Session 5: 3 November, 2023 (Kamerlingh Onnes building, room B0.13)
Energy mapping debrief & Strengths

Session 6: 10 November, 2023 (Lipsius building, room 2.28)
Strengths debrief, LinkedIn 2.0 & connecting the dots

Session 7: 17 November, 2023 (Lipsius building, room 2.28)
Decision-making and creative confidence

Session 8: 24 November, 2023 (Kamerlingh Onnes building, room B0.13)
Decision-making debrief & the prototype ladder

Session 9: 1 December, 2023 (Kamerlingh Onnes building, room B0.13)
Dealing with failure, imposter syndrome & perfectionism

Session 10: 8 December, 2023 (Kamerlingh Onnes building, room B0.13)
Informational interview conference & next steps

Lipsius building, Old Observatory, Kamerlingh Onnes building

Reading list:

The book Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans will be mandatory reading. Additional literature will be announced via Brightspace

Course load and teaching method:

This course is worth 5 ECTS, which means the total course load equals 140 hours:

  • Seminars: 10 seminars of 2 hours (participation is mandatory) = 20 hours;

  • Literature reading: 4 hours/week = 40 hours;

  • Practical assignments: 6 hours/week = 60 hours;

  • Final reflection essay: 20 hours.

Assessment methods:

As life design is not something to grade quantitatively, this course will have a pass/fail grade based on your final reflection portfolio.

Brightspace and uSis

Brightspace will be used in this course. Upon admission students will be enrolled in Brightspace by the teaching administration.

Please note: students are not required to register through uSis for the Bachelor Honours Classes. Your registration will be done centrally.

Application process:

Submitting an application for this course is possible from Monday 21 August 2023 up to and including Tuesday 12 September 2023 23:59 through the link on the Honours Academy student website.

Note: students don’t have to register for the Bachelor Honours Classes in uSis. The registration is done centrally before the start of the class.

Gianelle Vacca (