Skip Navigation
search: People Opens New Window | Departments Opens New Window | Penn State Opens New Window | Web Opens New Window
Penn State mark
Penn State mark
University Bulletin
Undergraduate Degree Programs

These course descriptions are not being updated as of August 1, 2016. Current course descriptions are maintained in LionPATH.

Biology (BIOL)

BIOL 177 (GN) Biology of Sex (3) Basic structure and function of the human reproductive system. Physiology of gametogenesis, fertilization, contraception, gestation, parturition, lactation, and sexual behavior.

BIOL 177 Biology of Sex (3)

(BA) This course meets the Bachelor of Arts degree requirements.

This course presents a thorough background on the basic structure and function of the human reproductive system, to provide the student with sufficient scientific knowledge to understand and discuss sex-related topics and make informed personal decisions. Through lecture format presentations, multimedia presentations, small group activities, and guest presentation, students will be exposed to information that will clarify their understanding of the ways that their own body functions in sexual behavior and reproduction. In-class demonstrations and activities will be used to illustrate practical aspects of anatomical, health and contraception issues. 
Large class discussions, facilitated small group activities, and written assignments will encourage students to think critically and practically about the application of biological information to personal decision-making and to reducing their own risk of disease. Importantly, students will examine the roles of reproductive physiology and sexuality in a historical, cultural and social context, with particular emphasis on cultural and gender differences in anatomical forms, sexual expression, and disease susceptibility. Guest presentations from community groups will present current information about local reproductive and sex-related concerns and services. The course will present ongoing research on human sex and reproduction, and explore the biology behind current issues in human sexuality and medicine. Student evaluation is based on participation in activities, written assignments, and performance on four examinations.
The course is divided into four units: Reproductive Anatomy and Physiology provides students with a thorough background in human reproductive anatomy and function. This unit sets the tone for the course, providing students with correct terminology and creating a nonjudgmental atmosphere that encourages active exploration of topics. Cross-cultural and gender comparisons are incorporated, and anatomical models provide clear, 3-dimensional interactive illustrations. Reproduction explains the biological issues surrounding fertilization, pregnancy, childbirth, and abortion. Following these topics are several class sessions focused on contraception, using anatomical models. Small-group activities and guest presentations to allow students to practice appropriate communication skills. Sexual Identity addresses issues of variations in anatomy, sexual identity, and sexual orientation both within and between cultures. The biological causes and physiological consequences of various physical and lifestyle manifestations are explored. Sexual Behavior examines the physiological basis of sexual response, and explores the variations and problems that are associated with human sexual behavior. Sexually transmissible infections are discussed, emphasizing their mode of transmission, identification, and treatment. Students are encouraged to apply the knowledge and skills they acquired through the semester to their decision-making and communication needs.

General Education: GN
Diversity: None
Bachelor of Arts: Natural Sciences
Effective: Spring 2008

Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.


Look up course abbreviations

Course descriptions are stored in LionPATH, the University-wide student information system. Please visit the LionPATH Course Catalog to access current course descriptions. At that point, you will be leaving the University Bulletin website.

Skip Popular Searches
  1. Bachelor of Arts Degree Requirements
  2. General Education: United States Cultures and International Cultures
  3. Course Index
  4. Graduate Degree Programs Bulletin
  5. General Education: Arts
  6. General Education: Humanities
  7. General Education: Health and Physical Activity
  8. General Education: Natural Sciences
  9. General Education: Social and Behavioral Sciences
  10. General Education: Writing/Speaking