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Human Reproduction: Sex, Science and Society

A cross-disciplinary look at the biological factors that influence sex, fertility and making babies in modern society.
This course is archived
Future dates to be announced
Estimated 5 weeks
2–3 hours per week
Instructor-paced
Instructor-led on a course schedule
Free
Optional upgrade available

About this course

Skip About this course
Are you trying to conceive? Do you want to prevent conception (contraception)? Would you like to know more about your fertility?

Have you considered how social factors influence the choices we make about sex and reproduction? What about the latest technological developments in assisted conception (otherwise known as IVF)? Join world leader in human reproduction, Laureate Professor John Aitken, as we explore the biological, technological, and social factors that influence human reproduction.

In this course you will learn how sperm and eggs are made; the events that result in fertilisation and conception; and how a healthy baby develops and is born.

These biological principles will be studied alongside social factors such as the construct of family, education, poverty, and sexuality.

This course will also examine the enormous role of Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ARTs) such as IVF in modern society.

At a glance

  • Language: English
  • Video Transcript: English

What you'll learn

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  • Discuss both male and female reproductive development in humans
  • Describe the processes of fertilisation, conception and pregnancy in humans
  • Define relevant factors limiting human fertility, and how these can be overcome
  • Discuss the ethical issues and standards around ARTs
  • Articulate how access to contraception impacts upon our social, political, and clinical wellbeing
  • Describe issues related to sex and sexualities in Western societies
Week 1: Gametes, Fertilization & Conception
  • Sex hormones & reproductive systems
  • Eggs & sperm
  • Fertilisation & implantation
  • Obstacles to conception
  • Social policy and fertility rates: global trends in fertility
  • Projection of Australia’s population
  • Policy options to decrease or increase fertility
  • Historical changes in fertility rates
Week 2: Pregnancy, Placenta & Birth
  • Placentation
  • Fetal development/maternal adaptation to pregnancy/ Labour
  • Pregnancy and complications
  • Developmental origins of health & disease
  • Sociological approaches to the intergenerational cycle of disease
  • Social aspects of pregnancy and childbirth
Week 3: Contraception
  • The history and importance of contraception
  • Methods of Contraception
  • Effectiveness and Health Risks
  • New technologies in male contraception
  • Contraceptive use in Australia
Week 4: Sex & Sexuality: Social Constructionism & Biology
  • Biological sexual differentiation
  • The social construction of sex and sexuality
  • Psychiatry and homosexuality
Week 5: Infertility & Assisted Reproduction
  • Infertility
  • Assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs)
  • ARTs: now and the future
  • Ethics of ARTs
  • Surrogacy case study

About the instructors

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