Module Catalogue 2018/19

PSY3016 : Sex and Human Nature (Inactive)

  • Inactive for Year: 2018/19
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Gilbert Roberts
  • Lecturer: Dr Martin Tovee
  • Owning School: Psychology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



The aims of this module are:
to show how sex is a fundamental aspect of human nature;
to understand the underlying biology of the sexes and its consequences for behaviour;
by focusing on the unifying theme of sex, to address some of the most important and interesting aspects of human nature;
to provide a close link between research and teaching by drawing on the latest advances, including work carried out in the department

Original Summary:
This course will focus on the role of sex in shaping human nature. The aim will be to understand the underlying biology of the sexes and its consequences for behaviour. By focusing on the unifying theme of sex, the course will cover some of the most important and interesting aspects of human nature. Topics addressed will include sexual selection, sex differences in brain and behaviour, partner choice, male and female mating strategies, attractiveness, relationships, sexual orientation, reproduction, sex ratios and parental care. While taking a primarily evolutionary approach, the course will address both mechanistic and functional explanations of behaviour, as well as the roles of theoretical and empirical approaches. The behaviour of other animals will be drawn on to show the evolutionary origins of sexual behaviour in humans. The course will provide a close link between research and teaching by drawing on the latest advances, including work carried out in the department. Sex-related behaviour is both a major research area and a focus of media interest; this course should therefore prove fascinating and popular.

Outline Of Syllabus

•       The evolution of sex. Why reproduce sexually? Fundamental sex differences and their
consequences for parental investment and sexual selection.
•       Sex differences in cognition.
•       Partner choice, mating strategies & attractiveness. Criteria used in partner selection. Sex
differences in choosiness. Short vs long-term desirable traits. Sex differences in desirable
•       Physical attractiveness: Body mass index vs waist-hip ratio
•       Strategies for ensuring paternity.
•       The role of the female including issues surrounding the phases of the menstrual cycle.
•       Relationships. The development of close relationships, courtship, relationship styles, what
is love?
•       Sexual orientation. Controversies surrounding homosexuality and its genetic basis.
•       Parental care - effects of paternity uncertainty; resemblance of babies to their fathers,
step parenting and mortality.
•       Reproduction and life history including evolution of the menopause, marriage, rape, incest,
levels of extra-pair paternity.
•       Sex ratio adjustment.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

At the end of this module the student should:
have an appreciation of the fundamental importance of sex to human nature;
understand the underlying biology of the sexes and its consequences for behaviour;
Have learnt about topics including sexual selection, parental investment theory, mate choice, attractiveness, male and female sexual behaviour, and sex differences in cognition.

Intended Skill Outcomes

Ability to critically appraise research in a range of disciplines, including the roles of theories, models, observations and experiments in science.

Graduate Skills Framework

Graduate Skills Framework Applicable: Yes
  • Cognitive/Intellectual Skills
    • Critical Thinking : Assessed
    • Data Synthesis : Assessed
    • Active Learning : Present
    • Numeracy : Present
    • Information Literacy
      • Source Materials : Present
  • Self Management
    • Planning and Organisation
      • Goal Setting And Action Planning : Present
      • Decision Making : Present
    • Personal Enterprise
      • Initiative : Present
      • Problem Solving : Present
      • Adaptability : Present
  • Interaction
    • Communication
      • Oral : Present
      • Interpersonal : Present
      • Written Other : Assessed
    • Team Working
      • Collaboration : Present
      • Relationship Building : Present

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture121:0012:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading361:0036:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching61:006:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study461:0046:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures are used as the primary and most effective mode of imparting the core knowledge of the module. Seminars provide the opportunity for students to carry out background reading on selected in-depth topics and to prepare short presentations. The private study is essential for in depth review of knowledge imparted during lectures.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination1202A100Unseen
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The written examination is used to assess knowledge, independent learning and understanding of material relevant to the module, the ability to integrate this material and to communicate it clearly, as well as the ability for critical thought and originality of approach.

FMS Schools offering Semester One modules available as ‘Study Abroad’ will, where required, provide an alternative assessment time for examinations that take place after the Christmas vacation. Coursework with submissions dates after the Christmas vacation will either be submitted at an earlier date or at the same time remotely.

The form of assessment will not vary from the original.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2018/19 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2018/19 entry will be published here in early-April 2018. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.