Accessibility statement

York Strengths Development Sessions

 Relationship builder, communicator, achiever, learner

Our award-winning York Strengths Development Session enables you to discover your strengths - the things you are good at and you love to do - through enjoyable group activities, and with support and feedback from a trained observer.

York Strengths Development Sessions are offered to undergraduate first year students.

Summer Term sessions 2023

Week 2

Week 7

Week 8 

What is a Development Session?

A Development Session lasts about four hours, and is supported by the content in York Strengths Online.

The Development Sessions build on what you’ll learn in York Strengths Online, giving you the opportunity to work with others, and get feedback in a safe environment. This will give you a broader understanding of your strengths that will support you in your university journey.

Benefits of attending a Development Session:

  1. York Strengths Development Sessions are only offered in your first year - it’s now or never!
  2. Experience group exercises similar to job recruitment assessment centres in an informal, low-stakes environment
  3. Reflect on your personal strengths and get feedback from a trained Observer, enabling you to confidently articulate your strengths for future opportunities
  4. You will be supported to identify opportunities to pursue in the coming months and years while @UoY to further explore your strengths and the type of work that you’ll thrive in.
  5. Thousands of first years who have participated have gone on to enjoy greater confidence and experiences to help them secure placements, graduate work or further study.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I book my place?

All Development Sessions will appear on our events booking system, Handshake from January 2023.

You can see all York Strengths Sessions open to you and currently available to book by searching 'strengths’ in the events search field in Handshake.

IMPORTANT: Booking is essential for all Development Sessions

It's best to book as early as possible to be sure of a place on your day of choice. Handshake will show the most up to date booking information and which sessions still have places available.

Please do not book onto more than one session, as this takes up a place that might be needed by other students and makes it harder to forecast the numbers likely to actually attend on any particular day.

If you have a specific question, please email

What if I book, but then can't attend?

It's really important that you make a commitment to attending when you book your place. If you find out you can no longer attend, please cancel your booking via Handshake as soon as you know. 

Your place can then be released for another student, who might be on a waiting list for that day.

Observers are assigned for the number of students we are expecting, and still have to be paid even if you don't attend. That can be a wasted resource that could have been allocated elsewhere if you change your mind and do not attend your Development Session without letting us know.

Sometimes sickness or emergencies mean that you won't be able to come along, and won't know that until the morning of the event - that's quite understandable. If this happens to you then it's really helpful if you can email on the day to let us know.

If you can't make the day you originally book, please consider rebooking on a different day so you don't miss out.

What happens on a Development Session?

The Development Sessions run as morning or afternoon sessions each lasting about four hours. 

  • After a brief introductory session, you'll move into small groups in seminar rooms. You'll work with the same small group for the whole session.
  • Your group Observer will take you through a series of interactive activities, noticing what you're good at and what energises you, as well as asking you to consider this for yourself. You are not compared to anyone else, there is no pass or fail, and they'll be focusing on the positive.
  • You'll get your feedback from your Observer and consider what you’ve discovered about yourself.
  • To close the session, you'll have an opportunity for a one-to-one discussion with your Observer about any aspects of the day, your strengths or your future action plans.
  • There is a break part way through the session (with cake!) and the water fountains in the building will be operating to top up water bottles (please bring your own).

Read our guest blog from a past participant of how the Development Session helped them.

Photography and video recording may take place during York Strengths Development Sessions, which may be used for marketing purposes by the University of York. If you have any concerns or would prefer not to feature, please email

Do I need to do anything before the Development Session?

To get the most out of the session you'll need to access York Strengths Online before attending. This will give you an introduction to the programme, and you'll complete an initial consideration of your strengths.

Please complete all sections at least up to and including completing your York Strengths Grid in the ‘Strengths Discovery’ section. This can normally be completed in less than an hour. Please bring a copy of your completed York Strengths Grid with you to the Development Session.

If I attend, do I still need to do York Strengths Online?

York Strengths Online and the York Strengths Development Session work together to support you in assessing yourself against the nine York Strengths, and identifying YOUR strengths.

  • York Strengths Online introduces you to the programme and a strengths-based approach. You'll then complete a strengths assessment independently (with the option of using self-discovery exercises designed by experts). Finally  you'll be supported in forming an action plan to develop your strengths and gain experience.  
  • On the York Strengths Development Session you work with others. Participants take part in a series of interactive activities, led by an Observer, and completed with others in a small group. The Observer will be noticing what you're good at and what energises you, as well as asking you to consider this for yourself. This will give you additional insight into your strengths.

York Strengths Online provides the core content for all students, and the alternative to the Development Session for those who are unable to attend, or for students not in their first year of undergraduate study.

The York Strengths Development Sessions provide an added opportunity to explore your strengths in more depth, with feedback from group members and an external observer. 

To be recorded as having completed York Strengths, have this added to your student record and receive a certificate you must complete the final submission at the end of York Strengths Online.

I have additional needs / concerns about attending - can you support me?

We are really keen to make sure this event is as accessible as possible, and that everyone has a positive experience when they attend, and are working hard to make this happen.

If you have any questions, concerns or would just like to talk through what's involved, then please email before booking.

If you have a disability or health condition we can make reasonable adjustments to help you get the most out of the session. You can notify us of this using the booking form when you register on Handshake for your session. Once you've booked and let us know that you may need some adjustments, a member of the York Strengths team will contact you.

A quiet space is available at the York Strengths Development Session if you need to take a break, and staff are available to offer support if needed.

If there are strong reasons why you believe the York Strengths Development Session isn't appropriate for you or you can't attend, please let us know by emailing the address above and we can explore your reasons and potential alternatives for you.