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Sexology (EN)

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There is a substantial difference between men and women once they are asked for their ideal number of sexual partners. Three hypotheses: (1) Men have more testosterone. (2) Men employ more short-term strategies as regards to sexual relationships while women have more long-term strategies. (3) Women do not wish to be thought of as promiscuous. Here is the bio-psycho-social perspective in a nutshell. Sex is an emotion in which thinking, feeling and acting are interwoven and, in order to understand this emotion, we use biological, psychological and social explanations.

Sexology is defined as the scientific interdisciplinary study of sexuality. The previous paragraph discussed the interdisciplinary aspect. As the scientific aspect, we can add a fourth explanation to our example: the reported numbers may not be reliable. And this raises another interesting question: how can we measure sexual variables properly?

The aim of the course is to provide a systematic review of all the important themes in sexology; and they are extremely diverse. Psychological perspectives such as evolutionary, cognitive and social psychology are important. Other important themes are sexual problems and sexual health. We will furthermore discuss the bridge between science and society and our awareness of our own norms. Other topics: history, research methods, anatomy and physiology, sexually transmitted infections, (trans)gender, sexuality and the life cycle, love, sexual orientation, paraphilia, sexual coercion, and prostitution.

Most of you will not end up working as sexologists. Nonetheless, sex is very important to many people and therefore relevant to every academic scholar!


dr. M. (Mark) Spiering

Learning objectives

  • Describe sexological theories and concepts covered, these include: ethics, life cycle, anatomy, physiology, contraception, arousal, sexually transmitted infections, love, communication, pleasure, gender, orientation, variations, coercion, disorders, prevention, therapy, culture, prostitution, pornography, and religion (paraphrasing).
  • Show how these theories and concepts relate to (patient) observations and experiments. Explain techniques used to measure sexuality, differentiate correlational studies and experiments, identify the major sex surveys (academic thought).
  • Compare and contrast the psychological perspectives—psychoanalytic theory, learning theory, social exchange theory, and cognitive theory—relevant to sexuality (analyzing).
  • Differentiate and critique the contributions of key sex researchers. Explain sexual pleasure and the sexual health perspective, define abnormal and explain the normal–abnormal continuum. Understand contemporary issues in sexual ethics. Evaluate and apply sexological content (evaluation).
  • Demonstrate effective writing for different purposes and interact effectively with others (communication).

Teaching format

  • Lectures
  • Presentations / symposia
  • Self-study
  • Working independently on e.g. a project or thesis


There are four assignments of which three, free to choose, have to be made. Two assignments are comprising a personal contribution to a current topic of public debate. One assignment is writing a scientific evaluation. One assignment is practicing to take a sexual history. Details are on Canvas. The assignments will be rated as satisfactory (or not). For each satisfactory assignment you’ll be granted 2 points, so in total 8 points can be obtained for the assignments.

The subject matter for the examination is the book and the content covered by the guest lectures. There will be two interim tests, each interim test consists of 30 multiple choice questions (1 point each question) about the book and 4 essay questions (4 points each question) about the guest lectures.

A total of 100 points can be obtained (8 points for the assignments, 60 points for the multiple-choice questions, and 32 points for the essay questions), 64 points are needed to pass. If a student does not receive a pass mark, the results of the interim tests will cease to be valid and the student will have to resit them both.

Entry requirements

Open to second and third year bachelor students.

Study material

Hyde, S. H., & Delamater, J. D.  (2019). Understanding Human Sexuality [Fourteenth and International Edition]. New York: McGraw-Hill. ISBN: 9781447021551 (600 pages).

Attention! We will use the digital platform Connect that goes together with this book. Check the ISBN to be sure you are able to log in after you’ve bought the book. There are two options:

  • A printed copy + Connect (plus e-book). In the book is a flyer with a code to log in (± €85). ISBN: 9781447021551

If you buy the book at McGraw Hill, there is a discount for IIS-students: discount code to enter at the checkout: MGH20NL2 Link to website:

  • E-book + Connect, valid 360 days (± €40). Once you have subscribed you will be provided with a link to complete your purchase.


You can find the timetable on Datanose.

Number of participants



This course is open for UvA students and other interested parties, such as contract students or students from other institutions. You can register from 1 December until a week before the start of the course. 

Registration UvA students (look for code: 5512SEXO6Y).

Registration other interested parties

If you have any trouble while registering please contact: 


Check the website

Facts & Figures
Mode Short-term, open uva courses
Credits 6 ECTS,
Language of instruction English
Conditions for admission Open
Starts in February