Autonomous learning is a commonly occurring learning outcome from university study, and it is argued that students require confidence in their own abilities to achieve this. Using approaches from positive psychology, this study aimed to develop confidence in first-year university students to facilitate autonomous learning. Psychological character strengths were assessed in 214 students on day one at university. Two weeks later their top three strengths were given to them in study skills modules as part of a psycho-educational intervention designed to increase their self-efficacy and self-esteem. The impact of the intervention was assessed against a control group of 40 students who had not received the intervention. The results suggested that students were more confident after the intervention, and that levels of autonomous learning increased significantly compared to the controls. Character strengths were found to be associated with self-efficacy, self-esteem and autonomous learning in ways that were theoretically meaningful.