FMST 316 (3 cr): Human Sexuality

FMST 316

Course Description

The course takes a multidisciplinary perspective to examine the physical, cognitive and social emotional aspects of human sexuality.  Through an examination of the research and theory on selected topics in human sexual development throughout the life span it also looks at the impact of sexual issues on individual development, attitudes and relationship decisions.


One of SOCI 200, SOCI 240 or PSYC 100 and >= yr. 2, or permission of instructor.

Intended Audience:

The course is intended for majors and minors in Sociology and Family Studies. It should also have appeal to students in discipline majors/minors with which Family Studies courses are  complementary, as well as an elective for students  majoring in many different disciplines outside the social sciences. The course may also be attractive for students intending to enter any of the helping professions or allied fields. Students enrolled in the Minor in Critical Studies in Sexuality offered by the Faculty of Arts may also find the course attractive.

Course Objectives:

The major objectives of Family Studies 316 are to:

  • facilitate student acquisition of a body of scientific knowledge necessary for sexual health and well being.
  • emphasize the need for critical thinking in their reading and viewing of media and other materials regarding human sexuality.
  • reinforce the notion that there is a diversity of sexual beliefs, attitudes and practices, and
  • encourage students to appraise their own sexual beliefs, attitudes and practices within the broader Canadian multi-cultural society.

More generally, the course is designed to provide a course in human sexuality, grounded in sound science, for students planning careers in the helping professions as well as for those taking it for personal growth.

Course Overview:

The course is divided into three roughly equal Units. Each Unit will have a set of Self-Assessment Exercises and a Group Debate specifically associated with it. The Group Position Paper and the Individual weblog are semester-long activities independent of the three course Units. Students are advised that the Self-Assessment Exercises may contain content of a personal nature and may challenge previously held beliefs and attitudes. Only the Course Instructor will view these exercises and confidentiality is assured.

  • Unit 1: Introduction; Research Methods; Anatomy and Physiology; Sexual Arousal and Response; and Gender Identity.
  • Unit 2:  Attraction and Love; Relationships; Sexual Techniques and Behaviour Patterns; Sexual Orientation; Conception, Pregnancy and Childbirth; and Contraception and Abortion.
  • Unit 3:  Sexuality across the Life Cycle; Sexual Dysfunction; Sexually Transmitted Infections; Atypical Sexual Variations; Sexual Coercion; and Commercial Sex.


Term Tests (written online; 3 x 10%) 30%
Final Exam (written online) 25%
Self Assessment Exercises 15%
Personal Weblog 10% (plus possible bonus marks)
Group Debates (one for each Unit) 10%
Group Position Paper 10%
Total 100%

Required Textbook:

Rathus, Nevid, Fichner-Rathus, Herold and McKenzie, Human Sexuality in a World of Diversity, 3rd Canadian edition (2009): Toronto: Pearson Education. 

FMST316 Textbook Order Form

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