University of Malta

Study-Unit Description
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TITLE Psychology of the Family and Sexuality

LEVEL H - Higher Level


DEPARTMENT Centre for the Liberal Arts and Sciences

DESCRIPTION This Unit will give an overview of the key components of relationships within the context of a family, taking into account the most significant changes in family life in the second decade of the twenty-first century. It aims to help students reflect about the importance of relationships and family life in the modern world and how they can be active promoters of their own relationships.

It will also offer an environment to delve deeper into the psychological, social and cultural, and physical factors that affect human sexuality, and explores these through various theoretical approaches, taking a mostly developmental and evolutionary approach. The aims of this part of the Unit are to introduce the student to the psychological dimensions of human sexuality, to examine the role sexuality plays in human development, the main theoretical models that help us understand better sexual functioning, and to introduce the student to the different historical and cross cultural perspectives. Other aims include to explore the psychopathology of sexuality, using a psychophysiological perspective.

The Unit will aim to cover these subjects:
- Overview: global changes in marriage, parenting and family life.
- Introducing the dimensions of Human Sexuality. Major socio-cultural influences. Historical perspectives.
- Contemporary couple relationships and living arrangements.
- Theoretical models and sexual functioning (Evolutionary, attachment, and the Basson models).
- Impact of parent relationships on child development – the role of attachment.
- Sexual anatomy, physiology, response, arousal and orgasm (in both women and men).
- Building blocks of relationships – relationships skills and attitudes.
- Sexual motivation, attraction and sexual orientation.
- Patterns of conflict in relationships
- Sexual dysfunctions and paraphilias according to the DSM-5 (Sexual psychopathology).
- The role of, and the change in sexuality throughout one's life (a developmental perspective), and sex education.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the Unit the student will be able to:
- describe and explain some of the key relationship dynamics in intimate and family relationships;
- identify the most significant changes in partnerships, parenting and family life;
- discuss how families and individuals are responding to changes in partnerships, parenting and family life;
- identify, describe, and explain how historical developments, social structures and cultural contexts shape human sexuality;
- describe and explain the biological, anatomical, and physiological aspects of human sexuality, and it's metamorphosis throughout the lifespan;
- identify, describe, compare and contrast the main theoretical frameworks in psychology for the study of human sexuality and sexology;
- describe and identify the symptoms of sexual dysfunctions and paraphilias.

2. Skills:

By the end of the Unit the student will be able to:
- practice skills that enhance relationships between individuals and families;
- analyze how gender influences sexual behavior;
- analyze and describe the various and basic aspects of human sexuality.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

- Abela, A., & Walker, J. (Eds.). (2014). Contemporary issues in family studies: Global perspectives on partnerships, parenting and support in a changing world. Sussex: Wiley Blackwell.
- Greenberg, J., Bruess, C., & Oswalt, S. (2013). Exploring the dimensions of human sexuality (5th ed.). Jones & Bartlett Learning.
- Hill, C. (2008) Human sexuality: Personality and social psychological perspectives. Sage Publications.
- Walsh, F. (Ed.). (2011). Normal family processes: Growing diversity and complexity (4th ed.). New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Other readings will also be available on VLE.

ADDITIONAL NOTES Pre-requisite Qualification: Knowledge of English and Maltese language


Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment Yes 100%

Claire Casha

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the study-unit description above applies to the academic year 2017/8, if study-unit is available during this academic year, and may be subject to change in subsequent years.
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