Sunderland launches world’s first male psychology module

New module reflects growing awareness of men’s mental health and issues like ‘toxic masculinity’

The University of Sunderland has launched the world’s first module in male psychology.

The undergraduate Stage 3 module will explore the thinking, emotion and behaviour of men and boys and aims to inform a new generation of psychologists. The university hopes it will also overturn perceptions of psychology as a women’s subject.

“Research suggests men have an innate, often unconscious desire to appear strong and invulnerable, and society has often encouraged this too,” said Dr Rebecca Owens, who developed the new module.

“However, there is an increasing awareness of men’s vulnerabilities, the humanity of masculinity, and we need to keep up the momentum to promote awareness, understanding and support for men.

Dr Rebecca Owens developed the male psychology module

“I have been involved in male psychology research for a while now, and I am on the BPS Male Psychology Section Committee, so I have a vested interest in this area. However, as I was researching perceptions of psychology as a discipline, it became apparent that psychology is primarily perceived as a feminine subject, which can be off-putting to male applicants. This, alongside the notion of ‘toxic masculinity’, which we critique, and the overlooked issues affecting men and boys, we felt a male psychology module was timely.”

Male psychology as a field of academic research was first championed in 2010 by UK consultant clinical psychologist Martin Seager. It explores all factors that can help in the understanding of the psychology of men and boys.

Sunderland’s module will looks at how men and women develop and interact with their environment, why men and women are predisposed to experience many things differently, how these differences are embodied, the concept of masculinity from cross-cultural and comparative perspectives and challenge the recent notion that masculinity is inherently toxic and the impact of gender roles and stereotyping.

The University of Sunderland’s BSc Psychology degree programme recently achieved a 91% Overall Satisfaction rating from its students in the 2020 National Student Survey.


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