PSYCH 768 : Special Topic: Sex and Well-Being


2022 Semester One (1223) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

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Course Overview

This seminar-based course explores how individual and contextual factors affect our sex lives, drawing predominantly on quantitative research and social psychological theories. The overarching aim of the course is to demonstrate 1) how our sex lives affect our well-being, and 2) how we can maintain fulfilling sexual relationships, particularly in the context of long-term romantic relationships. Specific topics may include casual sex, sexual fantasies, sexual beliefs, sexual orientation, consensual non-monogamy, sexual communication, pornography use, and gender differences in sexual desire.

What preparation do I need? No special preparation is needed. However, it is expected students understand how to read and interpret empirical psychological research, as the majority of the class will focus on discussing quantitative research findings on the topic of sex and well-being.

Who should take this course? Although my expertise, and much of the course content, will be grounded in social and personality psychology, this course is likely to be of interest to a wide variety of students. For instance, we will touch on clinical aspects of sexuality, gendered views of sexuality, etc. The course assignments provide some flexibility in allowing students to pursue their own interests within the broader topic of sexuality (e.g., developmental perspectives, biological differences, etc.).

Students will leave the class with a better understanding of how sexual behavior affects well-being, and understand different theoretical perspectives on how couples may improve their sexual and relationship functioning.

Course Requirements

No pre-requisites or restrictions

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 3: Solution Seeking
Capability 4: Communication and Engagement
Capability 5: Independence and Integrity
Capability 6: Social and Environmental Responsibilities
Graduate Profile: Master of Science

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Review and synthesize sexuality theories and research (Capability 1 and 2)
  2. Critically evaluate research methodology and the strength of knowledge on a specific area of interest (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  3. Discuss theory and research critically and analytically including developing arguments grounded in scientific theory (Capability 2, 3 and 4)
  4. Communicate knowledge in a concise, informative, and interesting manner, whilst demonstrating appropriate sensitivity (e.g., to diversity and other social issues). (Capability 4 and 6)
  5. Apply research and theory in psychology to understand how to improve sexual and relational well-being (Capability 2, 3 and 6)
  6. Actively participate in their own learning and the learning of others (Capability 5)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Participation 10% Individual Coursework
Seminar Presentation 25% Group & Individual Coursework
Article Critique 15% Individual Coursework
Debate write-up 15% Individual Coursework
Group Debate 10% Group Coursework
Blog Post 25% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6
Seminar Presentation
Article Critique
Debate write-up
Group Debate
Blog Post


This course is supported by the Tuākana in Science Programme, which facilitates the success and wellbeing of our Māori and Pacific students. The foundation of the Tuākana Programme is the Tuākana-Teina principle an integral relationship in which older or more expert Tuākana (traditionally brother, sister or cousin) guides a younger or less expert Teina (traditionally younger sibling or cousin). This is a reciprocal relationship which fosters safe learning and teaching environments. Read more here:

Key Topics

Specific topics may include casual sex, sexual fantasies, sexual beliefs, sexual orientation, consensual non-monogamy, sexual communication, pornography use, and gender differences in sexual desire.

Special Requirements


Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15 point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15 point course that they are enrolled in.

For this course, you can expect 2 hours of lectures, 4 hours of reading and thinking about the content and 4 hours of work on assignments per week.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

This course is available to offshore students and students who have been exempted from in-person attendance. Different conditions will apply for these students.

Attendance is expected at the scheduled course time as part of the marks allocated for the participation component of the course.

Learning Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

Course readings will be posted through Talis and include a mix of empirical articles and some book chapters. Students are NOT required to purchase a text/course book. 

Student Feedback

During the course Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the staff responsible for the course and staff-student consultative committees.

At the end of the course students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback.

Your feedback helps to improve the course and its delivery for all students.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed against online source material using computerised detection mechanisms.

Class Representatives

Class representatives are students tasked with representing student issues to departments, faculties, and the wider university. If you have a complaint about this course, please contact your class rep who will know how to raise it in the right channels. See your departmental noticeboard for contact details for your class reps.


The content and delivery of content in this course are protected by copyright. Material belonging to others may have been used in this course and copied by and solely for the educational purposes of the University under license.

You may copy the course content for the purposes of private study or research, but you may not upload onto any third party site, make a further copy or sell, alter or further reproduce or distribute any part of the course content to another person.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption, we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and course assessment continues to meet the principles of the University’s assessment policy. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator/director, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the university website for information about how to proceed.

The delivery mode may change depending on COVID restrictions. Any changes will be communicated through Canvas.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course students may be asked to submit coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. In exceptional circumstances changes to elements of this course may be necessary at short notice. Students enrolled in this course will be informed of any such changes and the reasons for them, as soon as possible, through Canvas.

Published on 11/11/2021 10:02 a.m.