CR5007 - Sex Work: Theory, Practice, Regulation

What will I learn on this module?

Ever wondered how a brothel operates? Where media representations and opinions about the sex industry originate from? If people who sell sex enjoy it, or if they are being exploited? If legal frameworks and policing affect how, when and where people sell sex? By engaging with cutting edge research, you will explore these issues and more in Sex Work: Theory, Practice, Regulation.

The module is split into three parts:

In Part 1 you will learn about the diversity of the sex industry and competing theoretical perspectives exploring sex work. We will explore the arguments of academics and scholars, as well as the lived experiences of sex workers.

Part 2 concentrates on the practice of selling sex and will explore the empirical, theoretical and sex worker written literature to answer questions like - what strategies do sex workers and clients use to manage the sale and purchase of sex, why do people sell sex, why do people buy sex, and who are the clients?

Part 3 explores key regulatory issues including: violence and sexual safety, policing and national/international regulatory frameworks.

Workshops will explore and include case studies such as Sweden - where the purchase of sex is criminalised but not the sale, and New Zealand where sex work is decriminalised. You will use your emerging criminological knowledge to explore the theoretical underpinnings of these frameworks, as well as the impact they have on the practice, health and safety of sex workers.

How will I learn on this module?

You will learn utilising a range of teaching and learning strategies and techniques and by completing a range of tasks. The module is usually delivered via a two hour lecture and an hour seminar. Learning experiences will include:

• Research rich lecture components
• Independent engagement with the scholarly and sex worker written literature
• Engagement and analysis of visual media – each session will begin with a pop music video which we then as a class work to deconstruct
• Guest speakers including academics and expert practitioners in the field
• In class tasks including theoretical analysis of sex worker blogs and other articles
• Small group work
• Interactive online in-class quizzes

You will have access to an online learning space as part of the module - which will include: a module outline and other general information, assessments, electronic readings lists, announcements, teaching materials, a module twitter feed and vlogs from the module leader.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

This module will contribute to your subject specific knowledge of criminology and intellectual and professional skills whilst enabling you to develop a criminological knowledge of sex work and the sex industry. By taking this option you will enhance a number of scholarly and transferable skills appropriate to your studies at level 5. These include: the ability to evaluate and reflect upon key theoretical approaches to understanding sex work historically, sociologically, geographically and comparatively; the acquisition of literature based research skills, and the ability to evaluate the links between sex work theory, practice and regulation. Engagement with practitioners and expert guest speakers will enable you to understand the links between, and application of this area of criminological research to praxis. Through independent learning and workshop tasks you will begin to take responsibility for your own learning and begin to think critically. Sex Work Theory, Practice, Regulation will challenge your existing knowledge about the sex industry and allow you to challenge that of others. It will also give you transferable skills on working around sensitive topics in a professional and ethical way.

Staff will be available to support you via email, in seminars, and during scheduled office hours. There is also substantial support from your fellow students during seminars and outside of class.

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:
1. An understanding of the competing theoretical and methodological approaches useful for understanding the sex industry and the global- local positionings of it;

2. To be able to reflect and engage, through independent and group based learning and skills acquisition, the interconnections between sex work theory practice and regulation.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
1. To engage in processes of independent and team based learning to justify your own criminologically informed opinions about sex work and the sex industry and constructively challenge those of others
2. To develop skills around the use of different modes of communication (e.g. verbal, written, team work, online) to share and present criminologically informed arguments about sex work and the sex industry.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
1. To develop your perspective around cultural and ethical issues relating to the sex industry and be able to communicate sensitively about these issues in a diverse and global community.

How will I be assessed?

The workshop programme will support the formative assessment for this module, allowing for the ongoing discussion and evaluation of relevant resources, research materials as well as enabling students to develop their own criminological perspectives on the sex industry (MLO 5).

There are 2 summative assessments attached to this module. The MLOs attached to each assessment are as follows.

Essay (individual, 50%) - MLO 1, 2, 4
Blog or VLog (group, 50%) - MLO 3, 4, 5

Feedback will be provided in the following way
Essay - ESAF
Blog or VLOg - ESAF





Module abstract

Please find details of this module in the other sections provided.

Course info

UCAS Code M900

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years full-time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Social Sciences

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.


Useful Links

Find out about our distinctive approach at

Admissions Terms and Conditions

Fees and Funding

Admissions Policy

Admissions Complaints Policy