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The University of Southampton

PSYC6056 Social and Psychological Approaches to Understanding Sexual Health

Module Overview

This module is designed to enable and encourage students to apply social psychological and related methods and theories to various aspects of sexual health, including both psychological and physical aspects.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • By the end of this module you should: be familiar with some theoretical and methodological issues concerning research on sexual health;
  • be able critically to evaluate published and unpublished material;
  • be able to consider the relevance of social and psychological approaches to policy formulation;
  • be able to communicate ideas clearly and succinctly and without bias.


Much research has been carried out in the field of sexual health over the past few years, some of it in this department. Amongst issues of concern are unintended conceptions (especially amongst teenagers), abortion choices, contraception side effects, sex and relationships education, and HIV and other STIs. In this course, emphasis is given to lessons learned from the research and how these may be applied in intervention programmes and policy development of various kinds. Students will learn how to appreciate the importance of adopting a careful and systematic theoretical and empirical approach to real life social issues. Topics covered include • methods in sexual health research • theoretical approaches • early sexual conduct and contraceptive use • teenage conception and abortion • emerging forms of communication and relationships • sexual problems and pleasure • STIs and HIV/AIDS • sex and relationships education • pornography and policies

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Each week, groups of students deliver a presentation based on their reading on specified subjects, using PowerPoint and other aids if desired. The presentation is followed by a discussion of the key issues raised. Although the tutors are active in steering the discussion and ensuring that the main issues are covered, members of this seminar course are expected to take an active role in proceedings. Other linked groups also prepare a follow up piece of work based on the topic under discussion. Full details are provided in the course book.

Independent Study172
Total study time200

Resources & Reading list

Reading list. 

Wellings, K., Mitchell, K. & Collumbien, M. (eds.) (2012). Sexual Health; A public health perspective. 

The course booklet. There is no one set text for this course. Books, reports and journal articles are indicated on weekly reading lists as starting points, but students are encouraged to search for further material as appropriate


Assessment Strategy

Referral Method: No compulsory passes required


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay 20%
Presentation or follow-up report 30%
Written assignment 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Assessment 50%
Essay 20%
Presentation 30%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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