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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Law : Law

Undergraduate Course: Sexual Relations and the Law (LAWS10220)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Law CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course will explore the law's regulation - and recognition - of consensual sexual relations. (Non-consensual sexual activity, such as rape, sexual assault and paedophilia will not be covered.) Throughout the course, the different ways in which the law prohibits or promotes sex will be explored, to draw out unifying themes and points of contrast. Some of the questions considered by the course include: what is the role of sex in constituting legally recognised relationships? Can too much sex or not enough sex have a legal role in ending formal relationships? What is the significance of "the sexual family"? And how are sexual relationships treated in an employment law context? Article 8 privacy concerns will also be addressed.

The course will highlight the contrasting approaches and aims of the civil law and, where relevant, criminal law. Ultimately, we will seek to answer the question of how intimate physical activities between adults should be treated in law.
Course description 1. Introduction and Art 8 overview;
2. Concepts and categories in the Scottish Institutional writers' tradition;
3. The differing role of sex in marriage and in cohabitation;
4. Sex and divorce/dissolution;
5. Legal writing seminar: conveying information in different contexts;
6. Asexual relationships and polyamory/polygamy;
7. The sexual family: ascribing legal parental status and the importance of sex (including ART and surrogacy);
8. Sex and employment law;
9. Guest seminar, responding to topical issues;
10. Rethinking the sexual family.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Family Law (Ordinary) (LAWS08126)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Spaces on this course are allocated as part of the Law Honours Course Allocation process. Places are generally only available to students who must take Law courses. To request a space on this course, please email
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesThis course is only open to visiting students coming through a direct exchange with the School of Law (including Erasmus students on a Law-specific Exchange). Exchange students outside of Law and independent study abroad students are not eligible to enrol in this course, with no exceptions.

**Please note that 3rd year Law courses are high-demand, meaning that they have a very high number of students wishing to enrol in a very limited number of spaces.**
Priority will be given to students studying on exchange within the Law department, and it is highly unlikely that there will be additional spaces for general exchange students & independent study abroad students to enrol; we will look into this on a case-by-case basis in September/January. Visiting students are advised to bear in mind that enrolment in specific courses can never be guaranteed, and you may need to be flexible in finding alternatives in case your preferred courses have no available space.

These enrolments are managed strictly by the Visiting Student Office, in line with the quotas allocated by the department, and all enquiries to enrol in these courses must be made through the CAHSS Visiting Student Office. It is not appropriate for students to contact the department directly to request additional spaces.

Students must have passed Family Law Ordinary (LAWS08126) or equivalent course at their home institution.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. To understand and appreciate the different ways in which the law regulates physical intimacy between persons;
  2. To develop and refine legal reading skills, through interpreting and evaluating legal sources, including case law, legislation, and academic writing;
  3. To critique and analyse theories of the sexual family and the criminalisation of sex.
  4. To develop written communication skills, most notably the ability to communicate the same information intelligibly to different audiences, and to reflect on what information is required to be presented accordingly;
  5. To be able to analyse and discuss sensitive material regarding intimate aspects of human life and communicate views on this with an awareness of the possible impact on different readerships
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Keywordssexual relations,sex,law,relationships,families,parents
Course organiserDr Gillian Black
Tel: (0131 6)50 9541
Course secretaryMrs Suzanne Strath
Tel: (0131 6)517000
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