PSYC3092 Psychology of Sex and Intimate Relationships

Bachelor Course Unit


One trimester


3rd year

Credit points:

6 (out of 144)



Mode(s) of delivery:

On-campus and Online Delivery




This unit is a third year elective unit in Psychology. The unit focuses on understanding human sexual behaviour and intimate relationships, and addresses the biological, cognitive, emotional, and socio-historical factors that contribute to the psychology of sex, sexuality, and intimate relationships.

Unit description

This unit focuses on understanding and investigating human sexual behavior and intimate relationships. The first section of the unit begins with a history of the psychology of sex and intimacy, including key theorists and researchers. It then proceeds to examine socio-cultural factors influencing attitudes, laws, taboos, discrepancies between public and private behaviour, as well as values and behaviour relating to sex, before progressing to a consideration of sexualities and “variations” in sexual behaviour. The second section of the unit examines key biological, emotional, and cognitive factors in intimate relationships, considering research on and theoretical approaches to interpersonal attraction, love, partner selection, communication and conflict, betrayal, infidelity, jealousy and power, and relationship dissolution.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this unit students should be able to:

  • Describe the history of sex and intimacy research and the development of various theories concerning sex and intimacy

  • Understand and describe the main methods used to conduct research into sex and intimate relationships and discuss the ethical issues associated with each method

  • Explain the impact of cultural, social, legal, and religious factors on sexual behaviour and intimate relationships

  • Describe biological and neurological bases of sexuality, sexual orientation, and intimacy

  • Describe factors that impact interpersonal attraction, partner selection, communication, conflict, power, betrayal, infidelity and jealousy, and relationship dissolution

  • Discuss the interactions among sex, intimacy, emotion, cognition, relationship formation and relationship duration.

Unit content

  • The history and evolution of the psychology of sex and relationships as fields of research and practice
  • "Doing" sex
  • Exploring sexualities
  • "Variations" in sexual behaviour
  • Theoretical perspectives on intimate relationships: Attachment and equity approaches
  • Physical and psychological attraction
  • Love and liking
  • Communication and conflict in relationships
  • Issues in intimate relationships: Betrayal, infidelity, jealousy and power
  • Relationship maintenance and relationship dissolution and its aftermath

Learning and teaching process

This unit comprises 10 weekly 2.5 hour lectures and 9 weekly 1 hour tutorials. Attendance at tutorials is compulsory. Attendance at lectures is highly recommended. Lectures will be captured electronically at the time of delivery. These recordings of the slide content and oral presentation will be available for downloading as soon as it is feasible after the lecture.

Assessment Summary

Assessment information provided at the commencement of the unit in the online class space.

Recommended Text

For more information regarding recommended texts for specific units, please see the School of Psychological Sciences Textbook List.

Academic misconduct

Ethical conduct and academic integrity and honesty are fundamental to the mission of ACAP. Academic misconduct will not be tolerated by the college. This includes plagiarism of any nature. It is your responsibility to make sure that you understand what constitutes plagiarism in order to ensure that you do not engage in it. Please refer to the Academic Misconduct Policy for more information.


This unit outline may be updated and amended from time to time. To ensure you have the correct outline please check it throughout the trimester. Your lecturer will advise when there are updates on the site and also when readings are available for class discussion.