Case study

Sunderland launches world’s first male psychology module

10 Sep 2020

Dr Rebecca OwensThe University of Sunderland has launched the world’s first module in the rapidly expanding field of study into male psychology.

Male psychology looks at the thinking, emotion and behaviour of men and boys and the factors which have an impact on them.

Sunderland has launched the undergraduate Stage 3 module to shed new light in this area and aims to inform a new generation of psychologists in ways that will provide practical and theoretical value.

With men and boys representing the majority of suicides, homelessness, addiction, imprisonment and educational underachievement in society, the module has been designed to create a better understanding of their gendered needs and examine the underlying issues, leading to appropriate psychological interventions that benefits all.

Sunderland’s School of Psychology Dr Rebecca Owens (pictured) developed the new module, which has national support through the Male Psychology Network, and has been featured in a recent article by the new Male Psychology Section of the British Psychological Society (BPS).

She explained: “Research suggests men have an innate, often unconscious desire to appear strong and invulnerable, and society has often encouraged this too. 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.

“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 is a recent development in academia, first highlighted by UK consultant clinical psychologist Martin Seager in 2010. It values any perspectives – including biological factors - that can help in the understanding of the psychology of men and boys.