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Unit information: Sexuality and Society in 2017/18

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Unit name Sexuality and Society
Unit code SOCI20072
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. O'Connell Davidson
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This module introduces sociological debates on sexuality through a focus on the ways in which sexual lives have been and are socially and legally regulated and policed. It aims to familiarise students with some key examples of the legal and social regulation of female sexuality, homosexual sex, ‘interracial’ sex, paedophilia, and pornography, and to encourage them to think critically about the complicated relationships between sexuality on the one hand, and social divisions of gender, race, class, nation and age on the other, that underpin and are reproduced through such regulation.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of the unit, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate understanding of arguments that sexuality is socially and politically constructed, as opposed to given by nature;
  • Gather, assess and interpret evidence on legal and/or social controls over sexuality;
  • Analyse examples of legal or social controls of sexuality and make reasoned arguments in relation to social hierarchies and inequalities of gender, race, age, class or nation;
  • Show recognition of the relevance of sociological knowledge to popular and policy debate on sexuality.

Teaching details

Two hours lecture and one hour seminar per week

Assessment Details

  • Poster Presentation (25%)
  • 2500 word essay (75%)

Both assessments assess all learning outcomes

Reading and References

Crisp, Q, (1997) The Naked Civil Servant. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Kinkaid, J. (1998) Erotic Innocence: The Culture of Child Molesting. Duke University Press.

Robinson, C. (2003) Dangerous Liaisons: Sex and Love in the Segregated South. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press

Seidman, S. (2015) The Social Construction of Sexuality, Third Edition, New York: W. W. Norton

Shoshanna Ehrlich, J. (2014) Regulating Desire: From the Virtuous Maiden to the Purity Princess. Albany: New York State University Press.