module specification

PY7136 - Psychology and Sexual Violence: causes consequences and interventions (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18, but may be subject to modification
Module title Psychology and Sexual Violence: causes consequences and interventions
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 10
School School of Social Sciences
Total study hours 100
65 hours Guided independent study
35 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Oral Examination 20%   Oral presentation
Coursework 80%   1500 word reflective account *FC*
Other 0%   Attendance
Running in 2017/18 No instances running in the year

Module summary

The module is taught in a block format over a period of a few days.


This module will focus on forms of sexual violence in child and adulthood. We will address: incidence, prevalence and reporting; theoretical and explanatory frameworks; impacts and meaning for victims/survivors; persistence and change with respect to legal frameworks, the justice system and support services; sexual cultures; perpetrators and approaches to prevention.

Students taking this module will study alongside those taking HSP037N. The teaching for this module is delivered on the North Campus by staff from the Department of Social Sciences (CWASU).

Prior learning requirements


Module aims

During this module students will be introduced to material which will assist them to:

- to explore the extent and forms of sexual violence in child and adulthood
- to critically examine theoretical, conceptual and explanatory frameworks
- to locate legal reform, support services and policy development in historical and comparitive
- to examine the impacts and consequences for individuals and for gender and generational
- to explore prevention and work with perpetrators in context of contemporary sexual norms and


Part 1: Theory, concepts and boundaries
Sociological, psychological and biological theories of sexuality and sexual crime, with an emphasis on feminist perspectives; definitions and overlaps between rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment and sexual abuse; boundary issues between consent and non-consent, acceptable and unacceptable behaviour, including in the context of changing sexual cultures.

Part 2: Prevalence, impact and meanings
Prevalence studies - methods and findings; debates on who defines 'rape' and how; reporting and seeking help; the framings of victim/survivor, trauma and harm; cultural constructs of honour, stigma and self-blame; constructions of identity in the aftermath of sexual violence and how women and children create personal safety

Part 3: Law and the Criminal Justice Systems
The Sexual Offences Act 2003 will form a framework for exploring law reform, and comparative data on attrition will provide a basis for explorations of commonalities and differences in international approaches to adult rape and sexual abuse in childhood.

Part 4: Support services in historical and comparative contexts
Emergence and constitution of rape crisis centres, survivors groups, victim support and children's charities within the UK and comparator countries. The themes of professionalisation, assimilation and social change will be addressed, alongside what we know about good practice.

Part 5: Perpetrators, sexual cultures and prevention
The normalisation of aspects of the continuum of sexual violence will be constrasted with social constructions of sex offenders, especially the 'pedophile' and 'serial rapist'.

Learning and teaching

Students attending this module will study alongside those students taking the MA in Child and Women Abuse Studies as well as those taking this module as a short course.  The module is taught in a block format which allows for extensive group discussion during the teaching sessions. Students will be expected to continuously reflect upon how socio-political influences affect notions of causality and prevention of sexual offending. Students will be required to reflect upon how this broader approach to criminal behaviour contrasts with the psychological perspectives presented within other aspects of the MSc. The range of intervention opportunities discussed during this module will assist students with personal as well as career planning.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module students should be able to:

1. develop and present a critical argument using key concepts and contemporary  research data;

2. critically assess and evaluate changing legislative, policy and practice frameworks;

3. demonstrate a deep understanding of the similarities and differences between a range  of forms of sexual violence in childhood and adulthood and critically evaluate these in  relation to both feminist and psychological theoretical underpinnings;

4. identify, evaluate and apply appropriate explanatory frameworks and social science  concepts in order to inform practice and policy.

Assessment strategy

Students will be expected to prepare and deliver, during the timetabled sessions, a presentation  and following the block teaching to submit to the MSc in Forensic Psychology a reflective account.

For the 10-15 minute presentation students will be able to chose from a list of statements reflecting populist positions - they are to use concepts and research data to address the accuracy of the assertion

For the reflective essay (1400-1600 words) students will be asked to outline what they consider to be the most pertinent learning points acquired during the module with reference to learning aims 2-4. The specific issues selected for discussion will be a matter for the individual student. However, the student will be expected to integrate the knowledge gained from this module into their understanding from other aspects of the MSc in Forensic Psychology (making reference, where appropriate, to theory knitting). Reference to the appropriate literature base should be made within the reflective account in order to ensure the work meets MSc academic standards. Students must pass both components. This assignment must be submitted to the Calcutta House PG Office.

Students should also note there is an attendance element to this module and they are required to attend a minimum of 80% of the taught sessions.


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Gavey, N. (2005). Just Sex? The Cultural Scaffolding of Rape. London: Routledge 
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