Skip to main content

Unit information: Sex Power and Consumption in 2021/22

Unit name Sex Power and Consumption
Unit code SPOL30073
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Mulvihill
Open unit status Not open




School/department School for Policy Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

In this unit, you will explore how sex and sexual services are commodified, marketised and consumed and how relations of inequality and power intersect these practices.

The unit will trace the history of sex markets, the different modes of consumption and criminal justice responses in the UK and internationally. You will assess the significant impact of the internet, of commercial interests, and of the wider policy context, on the organisation of sex markets and on individuals engaging in buying and selling sex and intimacy.

You will consider how relations of power and social identities (for example: gender, age, class, ethnicity or nationality) may position buyers and sellers and the extent to which agency, pleasure, coercion or harm characterise how sex is consumed today.

Unit aims:

  • Identify the various patterns of commodification and consumption of sex and sexual services
  • Evaluate the impact of technological change, of commercial interests, and of policy and criminal justice frameworks on the sale and consumption of sexual services
  • Critically assess the extent and impact of social power relations within sex markets

Intended Learning Outcomes

At the end of the unit, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate a critical understanding of contemporary sex markets
  2. Explain the impact of technology, policy and regulatory frameworks on the sale and consumption of sexual services
  3. Theorise how social power relations are implicated in how sex is bought and sold
  4. Critically assess the role of the criminal justice system in addressing harms within sex markets

All ILOs will be assessed across summative parts 1 and 2.

Teaching Information

This unit will draw on a blended learning approach. Students will engage with asynchronous taught content (including, for example, narrated slides and other teaching and research materials) and will be tasked to complete activities in preparation for synchronous sessions to present and discuss ideas and clarify learning.

Assessment Information

Part 1: 25% Critical review (1000 words maximum)

Part 2: 75% Essay (2000 words maximum)


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. SPOL30073).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.