Psychology 2075-001

Human Sexuality

If there is a discrepancy between the outline posted below and the outline posted on the OWL course website, the latter shall prevail.


A survey of the psychological study of human sexual behaviour. Topics include history, methodology, theory, anatomy, physiology, attraction, sexual function, sexual orientation, contraception, conception and birth, sexual health and sexual coercion, and pornography.

3 lecture hours, 1.0 course


Instructor:  Professor William Fisher                              

Office and Phone Number: Social Science Centre 7428, (519) 661-2111 ext 84665

Office Hours: By appointment                                                    


Teaching Assistants: TBN 1

                               TBN 2


Note: To make an appointment with your teaching assistant to discuss questions concerning this course, please contact your assigned teaching assistant for an appointment. Students with last names beginning with a through X should contact TBN 1 for assistance; students with last names beginning with X through Y should contact TBN 2 for assistance.     

Time and Location of Lectures:          

            Tuesday 2:30 – 5:30 pm

            Natural Sciences 1


Class Website: OWL

If you or someone you know is experiencing distress, there are several resources here at Western to assist you.  Please visit: for more information on these resources and on mental health.

Please contact the course instructor if you require material in an alternate format or if you require any other arrangements to make this course more accessible to you. You may also wish to contact Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) at 519-661-2111 ext 82147 for any specific question regarding an accommodation.


 Hyde, J. S., DeLamater, J. D., & Byers, E. S. (2015). Understanding Human Sexuality.  (Sixth Canadian Edition). Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson.


This course provides a survey of the psychological study of human sexual behaviour. Topics include the history, theory, ethics, and methodology of the psychological study of human sexuality, the anatomy and physiology of human sexual function, and a review of the varieties of sexual behaviour, sexual dysfunction, sexual orientation, contraception and abortion, conception, pregnancy, and childbirth, sexual and reproductive health, sexually transmitted infections, sexual coercion and assault, pornography, interpersonal attraction, close relationships, and love. Please note that this course will involve explicit consideration, readings, imagery, and class discussion of each of these topics, behaviours, and experiences.

Voluntary participation in anonymous web-based surveys of sexual and relationship knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours is a feature of the course and aggregated results will be reported in class.



By the end of this course, the successful student will be able to identify, discuss, and/or explain:

Critical events in the history of the scientific study of human sexuality.

The basic sexual anatomy of males and females and how this anatomy responds to sexual stimulation.

The primary events in conception and development of the foetus.

Alternative methods of contraception and their advantages, disadvantages, and side effects.

Research perspectives on heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, and asexual orientations and diverse gender identities.

Differences and similarities in the sexual behaviour of males and females.

Approaches to understanding and reducing sexual assault.

Major sexually transmitted disease infections, their symptoms, treatment, and prevneiton.

The impact of abstinence-only and comprehensive sex education and the elements of effective sex education.

Major claims and bodies of research evidence concerning the impact of pornography on behaviour.

Major theories of interpersonal attraction.


Course evaluation will based upon four multiple-choice examinations, each worth 25% of students’ final grade. Exams will each consist of 50 multiple choice questions and will cover material from the assigned readings (half of exam items will come from material covered in required textbook readings) and from class lectures (half of exam items will come from material covered primarily in class lectures and discussion). The exams are not cumulative. Students are required to take every examination in the course without exception. The lecture schedule, lecture topics, assigned readings, and examination dates appear below.

Lecture attendance in this course is considered to be mandatory. Half of the items on each examination cover material that is presented only in lectures and not covered in readings. Students who miss lectures score dramatically more poorly on examinations.

Although the Psychology Department does not require instructors to adjust their course grades to conform to specific targets, the expectation is that course marks will be distributed around the following averages:

70%     1000-level and 2000-level courses
72%     2190-2990 level courses
75%     3000-level courses
80%     4000-level courses
The Psychology Department follows the University of Western Ontario grading guidelines, which are as follows (see ):

A+  90-100      One could scarcely expect better from a student at this level
A    80-89        Superior work that is clearly above average
B    70-79        Good work, meeting all requirements, and eminently satisfactory
C    60-69        Competent work, meeting requirements
D    50-59        Fair work, minimally acceptable
F    below 50    Fail


October 24, 2017: Examination I:

In class at usual time and location

 December 10-21, 2017: Examination II: 

Mid-Year Examination Period (At time and location TBA)

February 13, 2018: Examination III:

 In class at usual time and location

April 14 -30, 2018: Examination IV:

Final Examination Period (At time and location TBA)


Lecture and Examination Schedule and Required Readings


September 12: Course Orientation


                 ON LINE ONLY—VIA OWL: Course overview and orientation





September 19: Introduction and History of the Scientific Study of Sexuality


                 Chapter 1 Hyde et al.


September 26: Methodology in the Scientific Study of Sexuality


                 Chapter 3 Hyde et al


October 3: Theory in the Scientific Study of Sexuality


                 Chapter 2 Hyde et al


       October 9-13: Fall Reading Week


October 17: Sexual Anatomy


                 Chapter 4 Hyde et al.


                 Sex Hormones, Differentiation, Menstruation


                 Chapter 5 Hyde et al.


October 24: Examination I: In class at usual time and location


October 31: Sexual Response


                  Chapter 9 Hyde et al


November 7: Sexual Orientation


                 Chapter 14 Hyde et al

November 14: Sexual Orientation


                 Film: Harvey Milk


November 21: Contraception and Abortion


                  Chapter 7 Hyde et al.


November 28: Conception, Pregnancy, Childbirth


                 Chapter 6 Hyde et al.


December 5: Sex Differences in Sexual Behavior


                 Chapter 13 Hyde et al.



December 10-21 Examination II:  Mid-Year Examination Period (Time and location TBA) 





January 9: Understanding and Promoting Reproductive Health: Sexually Transmitted Infections


                 Chapter 8 Hyde et al.


       January 16: Understanding and Promoting Reproductive Health: The Fight Against HIV/AIDS


                 Fisher, W. A., Fisher, J. D., & Kohut, T.  (2009)  AIDS exceptionalism? The social

      psychology of HIV prevention research.  Social Issues and Policy Review, 3, 45-77.     

      (Posted on OWL)


                 Presentation of documentary and intervention materials


January 23: Pornography, Erotica, and Behaviour


                  Chapter 17 Hyde et al


January 30: Sexual Coercion: The Research Perspective


                 Hyde et al., Chapter 16


February 6: Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault: The Western Perspective


                 Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault: Western University Initiatives


                 The Gian Ghomeshi Trial: Legal Commentary and Analysis


                 Guest Lecturers—Lecture Only



       February 13: Examination III: In class at usual time and location



February 19-23: Reading Week



February 27: Sexual Variations


                 Lecture Only


                 Attraction, Love, and Attachment: I


                 Hyde et al., Chapter 12


March 6:     Attraction, Love, and Attachment: II




March 13:   Attraction, Love, and Attachment: III


                 Lecture only


March 20:   Sexuality Education


                 Hyde et al., Chapter 19


March 27:   Sexuality and the Lifespan: Childhood and Adolescence


                 Chapter 10 Hyde et al.


                 Transforming Gender


April 3:       Sexuality and the Lifespan: Adulthood and Ageing


                        Chapter 11 Hyde et al.



April 10:     Course Reprise Movie: Kinsey


                 How to be Reasonably Sexual in 2018 and Beyond


April 9-30:        Examination IV: Final Examination Period (At time and location TBA)


Students are responsible for understanding the nature and avoiding the occurrence of plagiarism and other scholastic offenses. Plagiarism and cheating are considered very serious offenses because they undermine the integrity of research and education. Actions constituting a scholastic offense are described at the following link:

As of Sept. 1, 2009, the Department of Psychology will take the following steps to detect scholastic offenses. All multiple-choice tests and exams will be checked for similarities in the pattern of responses using reliable software, and records will be made of student seating locations in all tests and exams. All written assignments will be submitted to TurnItIn, a service designed to detect and deter plagiarism by comparing written material to over 5 billion pages of content located on the Internet or in TurnItIn’s databases. All papers submitted for such checking will be included as source documents in the reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism of papers subsequently submitted to the system. Use of the service is subject to the licensing agreement, currently between Western and

Possible penalties for a scholastic offense include failure of the assignment, failure of the course, suspension from the University, and expulsion from the University.


Western’s policy on Accommodation for Medical Illness can be found at: 

Students must see the Academic Counsellor and submit all required documentation in order to be approved for certain accommodation:


Office of the Registrar web site:

Student Development Services web site:

Please see the Psychology Undergraduate web site for information on the following:

- Policy on Cheating and Academic Misconduct
- Procedures for Appealing Academic Evaluations
- Policy on Attendance
- Policy Regarding Makeup Exams and Extensions of Deadlines
- Policy for Assignments
- Short Absences
- Extended Absences
- Documentation
- Academic Concerns
- 2017 Calendar References

No electronic devices, including cell phones and smart watches, will be allowed during exams.

Additional Information Concerning Sex Research and Related Topics for Those Interested




       Journal of Sex Research

       Journal of Sexual Medicine

       Archives of Sexual Behavior

       Annual Review of Sex Research

       Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality

       Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada

       International Journal of Sexual Health




       Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada


       Public Health Agency of Canada:


       Centers for Disease Control:


       UN AIDS:


Advanced Textbook


       Pukall, C.F. (Ed.) (2014) Human sexuality. A contemporary introduction : Oxford University

            Press. Don Mills, CA.


Sexual Harassment and Sexual Trauma Resources

Sexual Harassment


       UWO Sexual Harassment (Office of Equity and Human Rights) 519-661-3334


Sexual Assault


       London Police 911


       UWO Student Health Services (Medical Care, Counselling)



       UWO Student Development Centre (Crisis Counselling, Psychological Services)



       Sexual Assault Centre London—St. Joseph’ (24 Hour Crisis and Support Line)



       Regional Sexual Assault Program, St. Joseph’s Hospital (medical care, examination, counselling)

       519 646-6100 ext. 64224