Sociology 160

Human Sexuality

Subject Matter and Objectives of the Course:

The subject matter of this course is human sexual expression.  While we will cover most aspects of sexuality, the emphasis will be on the contributions of social scientists to our understanding of this topic.

Objectives of this course:
1.     To provide practical information needed for healthy everyday living (information about sexual anatomy, contraception, and sexually transmitted infections, for example) and to deal with problems in sexual functioning (such as early ejaculation or inability to have an orgasm).
2.     To help students appreciate the fabulous diversity of human sexuality along many dimensions including age, sexual orientation and identity, gender identity, ethnicity within the United States (a multiethnic perspective), and culture around the world (a multicultural perspective).   
3.     To help students feel more at ease with thinking and talking about sex, both to minimize their own personal discomfort with a tension-causing topic and to help them become responsible decision-makers in an important aspect of their personal lives and in their roles as citizens and voters.           
4.    To familiarize students with methods used in research on sexuality, and particularly with problems inherent in some of these methods, so that they can read research reports critically and intelligently.

Department learning objectives. Beyond the specific substantive and methodological content I will cover in this course, I have designed this course to achieve the following instructional objectives designated as priorities by the Department of Sociology:

 ·         Critically Evaluate Published Research:  Sociology graduates will be able to read and evaluate published research as it appears in academic journals and popular or policy publications.

·         Communicate Skillfully:  Sociology majors write papers and make oral presentations that build arguments and assess evidence in a clear and effective manner.

·         Critical Thinking about Society and Social Processes: Sociology graduates can look beyond the surface of issues to discover the "why" and "how" of social order and structure and consider the underlying social mechanisms that may be creating a situation. They can identify evidence that may adjudicate between alternate explanations for phenomena as well as develop proposed policies or action plans in light of theory and data.

·         See Things from a Global Perspective: Sociologists learn about different cultures, groups, and societies across both time and place. They are aware of the diversity of backgrounds and experiences among residents of the United States. They understand the ways events and processes in one country are linked to those in other countries.

·         Work effectively in groups: Students will improve their skills in understanding group dynamics and working well with people from different backgrounds with different strengths and weaknesses.



Course Assignments:

This course will involve reading from two books, one textbook and possibly one current non-fiction book.  There will also be assigned reading accessed via Electronic Reserves at the UW Library.  The amount of reading varies from week to week; there is a total of about 1,000 pages which is assigned during the semester. 

Students should have access to McGraw-Hill’s Connect online resource package.  It includes quizzes on the material in each chapter of the textbook.  You should take the quiz after you master the material in the chapter.  If you are concerned about your performance on tests, repeat the chapter quizzes until you achieve a high score.

Textbooks have been ordered at A Room of One's Own Bookstore, 315 W. Gorham Street (near State Street), 257-7888.

Examinations and Grading System:

There will be three examinations.  Exams will include multiple choice and identification/short answer questions.  The first and second exams will be worth 60 points each.  The final exam will be worth 100 points.  Students can earn up to 220 points on examinations.
NOTICE:  Exams will be given on October 5, November 9, and December 18.  Students who have or make personal travel plans on those dates must drop the course.

Each student must register for a discussion section.  Sections will meet weekly, and students are required to attend.  Sections will begin on Tuesday, Sept. 8th.  Two short papers will be required as part of the discussion section.  Students can earn up to 126 points in sections.  Final grades will be based on total points earned in the course on exams and in sections.

Accommodations. Please send the instructor and your TA an email by the end of the second week of the course if you are eligible for special arrangements or accommodations for testing, assignments, or other aspects of the course. This may be the case if English is your second language or you experience a physical or psychological condition that makes it difficult for you to complete assignments and/or exams without some modification of those tasks. Accommodations are provided for students who qualify for disability services through the McBurney Center. Their website has detailed instructions about how to qualify: Provide a copy of your accommodations request (VISA) to the instructor by the end of the second week of class. We try to reserve rooms and proctors by the third week in class, so we must know of all accommodations by then.  

If you wish to request a scheduling accommodation for religious observances, send an email by the end of the second week of the course to the Instructor and your TA stating the specific date(s) for which you request accommodation; campus policy requires that religious observances be accommodated if you make a timely request early in the term.  See the university’s web page for details:

Academic honesty. As with all courses at the University of Wisconsin, you are expected to follow the University’s rules and regulations pertaining to academic honesty and integrity. The standards are outlined by the Office of the Dean of Students at

According to UWS 14, academic misconduct is defined as:

For a complete description of behaviors that violate the University’s standards as well the disciplinary penalties and procedures, please see the Dean of Students website. If you have questions about the rules for any of the assignments or exams, please ask your instructor or your TA.


Course Evaluations:

The Department of Sociology conducts student evaluations of this course near the end of the semester. These evaluations include questions about the instructor and the teaching assistant(s) of the course.  We will conduct informal evaluations of the discussion sections during the course.  Students who have more immediate comments, complaints, or concerns about the teaching assistant may report them to the instructor, John DeLamater.  Students may also discuss their concerns with Professor Pam Oliver, Chair, 8128 Social Science, 262-1498.


The Writing Center provides several services, including individual conferences to work on a course paper you are writing.  Writing Center instructors are all experienced writing teachers.  They can help you develop ideas for a paper and organize them effectively.  They can direct you to resources that will help you with mechanical problems.  Call 263-1992, or send email to   The Writing Center also has many online tutorials that will improve your writing.  Web Address: Click on "The Writers Handbook."

The Software Training for Students Program provides free technology training for all students.  Courses cover topics such as Introduction to Computers, Windows: Beyond the Basic, MAC, Eudora, WebCT, Desktop Publishing, Internet and Creating Webpages.  Call 265-6624, or send email to   Web Address:


Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to come to lecture?
Yes, there will be one to three questions on the exam from each lecture.  Each time you miss a lecture, you are risking a lower score on the next exam.

Do I have to come to section?
Yes, each time you attend section you will earn points.  You will explore course topics in depth with your classmates. You also will learn important information about future assignments.

Do you give make-up exams?
Ordinarily we don't give make-up exams.  The only exceptions are for serious illness and/or injuries or family emergencies.  If you ask for a make-up exam you must provide evidence of illness or emergency.

Can I hand assignments in late?
Yes.  Your score will be reduced for each day it is late.  Ordinarily we do not accept assignments which are more than four days late.

Lecture Etiquette

1.    Please arrive before the bell rings.  It is very annoying when people arrive late, especially when they climb over three people to get to a seat.

2.    Turn off your cell phone or blackberry devices when you enter the room.

3.    If you must arrive late, please be sweaty and out of breath so we know you did your best to be on time.

4.    Please do not talk during lecture, video, etc.  If you talk, it distracts others around you.

5.    Please do not eat during lecture.  If you must eat, bring enough for everybody!  (There are four hundred people in the class!).

6.    Please do not close your books, move your writing table, stand up, or start talking before the instructor is done talking.

7.    When you leave, be sure you take everything you brought into the room.  Please do not leave newspapers, class handouts, soda cans or other discarded stuff on the floor.  The university has been forced to cut back on maintenance to save money for more educational things.  We can help by keeping the lecture halls, classrooms, and hallways clean.  If you are finished with something, put it in the appropriate recycling container.

Laptop Etiquette:

1.    Students who have to use an iPad/Notebook/ laptop for taking notes and other course activities will sign in at lecture on Wednesday, September 9th.  All other uses are prohibited. Turn off or disconnect from the wireless network when you boot your electronic device.

2.    Be sure sound is turned off.

3.    Follow all “laptop prohibited” times.

4.    Listen to your classmates if they complain that your laptop use is distracting.

                        During Exams:

            No MP3 players or iPods;
            No cell phones;
            No smart watches;
            No laptops or tablets.

These and ALL related devices must be inside purses or backpacks and may not be accessed while you are in the exam room.