Biology (BIOL) 310

Biology of Human Sexuality (Revision 4)

BIOL 310

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study online (with eTextbook)

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Science

Prerequisite: BIOL 235 or BIOL 230, or any 3-credit, second-year human biology course.

Faculty: Faculty of Science & Technology

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Defining human sexuality is not an easy task. Often misunderstood, human sexuality does not merely comprise the physical behaviour of sexual intercourse; the predominant behaviour likely to come to mind at the mention of “sex.” While important, sexual intercourse is only one component of a much larger and complex web called “human sexuality.” Given the complexity and range of human sexual behaviour, Biology 310 offers students multiple perspectives in order to understand sexuality.


  • UNIT 1: Studying Human Sexuality: An Introduction
  • UNIT 2: Anatomy and Physiology: The Female Body
  • UNIT 3: Anatomy and Physiology: The Male Body
  • UNIT 4: Sexual Arousal and Response
  • UNIT 5: Gender Identity and Gender Roles
  • UNIT 6: Attraction and Love
  • UNIT 7: Sexual Behaviours and Fantasies
  • UNIT 8: Sexual Orientation
  • UNIT 9: Pregnancy and Childbirth
  • UNIT 10: Contraception and Abortion
  • UNIT 11: Sexuality in Childhood and Adolescence
  • UNIT 12: Sexuality in Adulthood and in Later Life
  • UNIT 13: Sexual Problems and Dysfunctions
  • UNIT 14: Sexually Transmitted Infections
  • UNIT 15: Sexuality and Disability

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this course, you will be able to:

  1. demonstrate knowledge of various biology-related topics in the area of human sexuality and demonstrate awareness in how they apply to a healthy sexual lifestyle.
  2. understand and describe the various aspects of human sexuality from an anatomical and physiological perspective.
  3. understand normal developmental perspectives of the reproductive system from the prenatal stage to adulthood.
  4. explain the process of reproduction from conception to birth.
  5. understand the biology of sexual attraction and behaviours in the context of human development, interaction, and reproductive health, and be aware of the different ways in which individuals express their sexuality.
  6. understand and describe the various aspects of sexual orientation.
  7. describe the developmental tasks related to sexuality throughout the lifespan.
  8. understand and describe the prevalence and characteristics of various types of sexual dysfunction.
  9. understand safe sex practices and behaviours and how they apply to a healthy lifestyle, and identify the methods of preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
  10. understand safe sex practices and behaviours and how they apply to a healthy lifestyle involving non-conventional sexuality.
  11. explain the impact of disability and illness on sexuality and sexual function.


To receive credit for BIOL 310, you must also achieve a course composite grade of at least fifty percent D (50 percent), and a minimum passing grade of fifty percent (50 percent) on each assignment and the final examination. The weighting of the composite grade is as follows:

Activity Weighting
Assignment 1 15%
Assignment 2 15%
Midterm Exam 20%
Final Exam 50%
Total 100%

The midterm and final examinations for this course must be taken online with an AU-approved exam invigilator at an approved invigilation centre. It is your responsibility to ensure your chosen invigilation centre can accommodate online exams. For a list of invigilators who can accommodate online exams, visit the Exam Invigilation Network.

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


Registration in this course includes an electronic textbook. For more information on electronic textbooks, please refer to our eText Initiative site.

Rathus, S., Nevid, J., Fichner-Rathus, L., McKay, A., & Milhausen, R. (2020). Human sexuality in a world of diversity (6th Canadian ed.). Toronto: Pearson.

A print version of the eText may be available for purchase from the publisher through a direct-to-student link provided on the course website; you can also acquire the textbook on your own if you wish.

The textbook also includes access to online resources.

Revel is a publisher website that accompanies your eText. It is included with your course registration. You are not graded for any of the work you complete in Revel, but you are encouraged to enrich your learning with the online tools it provides, including practice questions, animations, videos, and other useful resources.

Other Resources

All other learning resources will be available online.

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 4, February 8, 2021.

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