PY0664 - Psychology of Intimacy

What will I learn on this module?

On this module you will learn about a broad range of research perspectives on the processes and psychological factors involved in the study of love, sex and sexuality. The initiation, process and dissolution of intimate relationships are introduced and models of ‘normal’, ‘flourishing’ and ‘dysfunctional’ relationship behaviour will be reviewed. The module introduces a life span perspective on sex and sexuality, considers gender and expression of sexuality, psychosexual dysfunction and treatment and reproductive psychology. The module incorporates theoretical perspectives from individual differences, biopsychophysiological, psychoanalytic, evolutionary, social and clinical psychological perspectives.

How will I learn on this module?

On this module you will learn through a combination of lectures, in-class activities and tutorials, along with independent study.

You will attend a series of two-hour interactive lectures to learn about the main areas in which psychology can be applied to the study of intimacy. These lectures will provide the basic framework for syllabus topics. The interactive elements will involve discussion of the application of particular topic areas introduced in the taught sessions. The aim of the interactive lectures is to consolidate information learnt through independent reading and to encourage you to apply your knowledge in a problem-based learning situation. You will have the opportunity for group discussion, enabling you to communicate your ideas and findings in a group setting, whilst showing sensitivity to the perspectives of others. Effective oral and visual communication skills will be developed through such activities. Where relevant, experts from other disciplines (e.g. marketing and business) will provide input into the teaching of the module, through one-hour ‘career insight’ talks.

Directed study will be encouraged through the provision of reading lists, which will serve as a basis for further, independent study. This will be further encouraged through the provision of study questions and topics. Independent learning skills and reflection on the role and value of those skills will prepare you for career development learning.

Together, the learning strategies of lectures, workshops, and directed and independent study aim to develop conceptual knowledge of the topic area and illustrate the range of paradigms and methods that can be used to investigate it. Tutorials will provide an opportunity for you to discuss issues related to the module with a member of staff.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

The module tutor will support you by making a variety of resources linked to the taught elements and assessments available on the eLearning Portal (an online application providing information about your modules e.g. PowerPoint slides, handouts, reading lists, directed assessment related-activities) along with links to websites to encourage further exploration of this topic. A discussion board on the eLearning Portal will be available for students to pose and respond to questions among peers and to module tutors. This enhances collegiality and also means that support is available to all students. Technology enabled learning will be implemented through the use of lecture recording.
Tutorials can provide an opportunity for students to discuss issues related to the module with a member of staff.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at:
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team –

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
• MK1: You will be able to understand, evaluate, discuss and compare key theoretical perspectives and psychological concepts in the study of intimate relationships, sex and sexuality

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
• MIP1: You will demonstrate the ability to use evidence-based reasoning effectively in written form, by developing an appropriate, ethical and testable research hypothesis to explore one aspect of intimate relationships.
• MIP2: Demonstrate the ability to independently source, understand and evaluate academic sources, including electronic journal articles on the topic of intimacy.
• MIP3: You will take charge of your own career development learning, through critical self-evaluation and reflection on the relevance of the module for career enhancement and future learning.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
• MPV1: Develop the characteristics of a Northumbria Psychology Graduate through appreciation of the impact of the political, social and cultural context in the study and understanding of family and relationships, sex and sexuality.

How will I be assessed?

Formative Assessment
You will present your plan for the assignment during a specific class session (MK1; MIP1; MIP2)

Summative Assessment
1. The first assignment is worth 90% of the module mark. You will select one topic from a list of choices to create a justified intervention plan in response to a client case study. Present an intervention plan to address the needs of one of a choice of 4 client case studies.
This assignment will require you to outline 3 sections as follows:
1. Brief summary of the key issue your client/s present with.
2. An outline of the rationale to support your chosen approach (for example; existential psychotherapy, Conflict-focussed therapy, person-centred therapy, solution-focussed therapy). This should outline the evidence that that approach is effective for that issue.
3. A brief outline of the content of the therapy: number of sessions, length, stages and skills utilised, and your plan for follow up with your client/s

(3500 words). (MK1; MIP1; MIP2; MPV1)

2. The second assessment is a self-reflective account in which you will be asked to consider how this module has impacted on your employability and future career (MIP3). This will be worth 10% of the module mark

Formative assessments, the module tutor will provide immediate verbal feedback on top of peer feedback provided through discussion in group activities.

For the summative report, feedback will be provided on the electronic submission in the form of a level-specific rubric. Additional written comments will be provided that identify a minimum of one strength, one weakness and one area for improvement. General feedback will be provided on the eLearning Portal.

You will be required to arrange a tutorial with your personal tutor for formal feedback on your reflection





Module abstract

Intimacy examines the psychological processes involved in starting and ending romantic relationships, love, attraction, sexuality and gender identity, psychosexual dysfunction, and love and sex addiction. You will develop online literature search skills, have the opportunity to undertake some of the commonly used profiling and psychometric measurement approaches in the field, and reflect on how brain scanning technologies, animal studies and clinical models of intervention sit alongside the socio-political implications of our understandings about love, sex and intimacy. The module enhances your understanding of the conventional approaches to intervention (examples may include the ‘marriage guidance counselling’ approach, the psychiatric model of fetishism, the 12-step approach to love and sex addiction, psychosexual counselling of disorders of female desire, gender identity, the influence of technology and social networking on sexual behaviour, reproductive psychology and the lifespan), and situates these within a broader psychology of contemporary notions of marriage and family structure, personal identity and the ‘rules’ of contemporary intimate relationships.

Course info

UCAS Code C800

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years Full Time or 4 years with optional study abroad year

Department Psychology

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024 or September 2025

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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