Science of Sex - 2016

This unit contains mature content including Adult Themes, Nudity and Sex / Sexual References and may not be suitable for some students.
Any student under the age of 16 who would like to enrol in this unit must first complete a Parental Consent Form.
This page is for past year, View 2017 unit details.

Unit summary


  • Level of Study: Undergraduate Level 2
  • Study load: 0.125 EFTSL
  • Delivery method: Fully Online
  • Prerequisites: Yes
  • Duration: 13 weeks
  • Government loans available: FEE-HELP, HECS-HELP
  • Availability for 2016: SP3 , SP4
  • Assessment: Assessment - Quizzes (48%) , Exercises - Weekly questions (22%) - Learn more

Unit provided by

2016 Fees
Domestic 1,114.00
HECS 1,114.00
International 1,364.00

This unit is designed to appeal to a broad diversity of students, from those studying science to those in anthropology, arts, communication, education, psychology, sociology, etc. Indeed, we hope it will engage all students with an active interest in being alive! A scientific background is not required for students taking this unit, but we hope to provide students with a scientific approach to understanding sex. This unit takes a broad approach, using examples (some quite bizarre) from the animal and plant worlds. At the same time, it covers in depth the sexual biology and behavioural science of our own intriguing species.

At the completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. understand and use correct biological terminology
  2. explain the difference between asexual and sexual reproduction
  3. have an understanding of why sexual reproduction evolved
  4. identify the various animal (and plant) mating systems
  5. recall specific examples of species from each of the mating systems
  6. outline and understand evolutionary processes
  7. read and understand scientific papers in the sexual selection literature.
  • Assessment — Quizzes (48%)
  • Exercises — Weekly questions (22%)
  • Presentation — Poster (30%)

Any four units at level 1

  • Additional materials — Required ebook: The Science of Sex (Fourth edition) by Barry and Holwell. This can be purchased directly at .
  • Broadband access — Students are required to have regular access to a computer and the internet. Mobile devices alone are not sufficient.
  • Other special requirement — Students must have access to MS PowerPoint and Excel

This unit addresses the following topics.

1Animal reproduction
2Human reproduction
3Plant reproduction
4Guest lectures

This unit is delivered using the following methods and materials:

Instructional Methods

  • Audio/Video conferencing
  • Chat rooms
  • Discussion Forum/Discussion Board
  • Online Quizzes/Tests
  • Online assignment submission
  • Podcasting/Lecture capture
  • Standard Media
  • Streaming Multimedia
  • Web links

Online materials

  • Resources and Links

This unit is a core requirement in the following courses:

This unit is an approved elective in the following courses:

This unit may be eligible for credit towards other courses:

  1. Many undergraduate courses on offer through OUA include 'open elective' where any OUA unit can be credited to the course. You need to check the Award Requirements on the course page for the number of allowed open electives and any level limitations.
  2. In other cases, the content of this unit might be relevant to a course on offer through OUA or elsewhere. In order to receive credit for this unit in the course you will need to supply the provider institution with a copy of the Unit Profile in the approved format, which you can download here. Note that the Unit Profile is set at the start of the year, and if textbooks change this may not match the Co-Op textbook list.
This unit does not have a prescribed textbook(s).

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