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Consent Education: Beyond The Binaries?

  • School: School of Social Sciences
  • Study mode(s): Full-time / Part-time
  • Starting: 2023
  • Funding: UK student / EU student (non-UK) / International student (non-EU) / Fully-funded


NTU's Fully-funded PhD Studentship Scheme 2023

Project ID: S3 31

NTU presents an exciting opportunity to research Consent Education at university. From 2018 to 2022 a partnership between the University and Students’ Union delivered workshops to increasing numbers of students and last year ran mandatory Consent-Is-Everything workshops for over 6000 first-year undergraduates, 90% of whom, when surveyed, recommended the workshop to other students (Student Support Services 2022). We believe this is a sector-leading initiative because we know of no others with such broad reach, and is worthy of in-depth study by researchers who are immersed in this context and engaged with the student body.

Sexualities education can range from a 10-year curriculum of Relationships and Sex Education to a more specific Consent Education, but must always embed a bold, up-to-date equalities component, both in its framing and its content, as NTU researchers have argued (Alldred & David 2007; Brady & Lowe 2020). As the right to self-define and the need to decolonise the academy are increasingly recognised, the equalities landscape continues to evolve. Several of the binaries relevant here have been questioned in recent research: Jones & Hillier (2012) and Formby & Donovan (2020) show how appropriate RSE for LGBT+ people is not a different curriculum, simply a comprehensive one;  Jones (2019) explores its fit for intersex and trans youth; and Whittington (2019; 2020) has queried the ‘do consent/don’t consent’ binary and explored ‘the grey areas in between’ in research with young people.

A PhD on consent education at university can focus on aspects of curriculum, pedagogy, and/or response and impact as suits a candidate and builds on their background and experience in teaching, youth work, health education, etc. Whatever the substantive focus, the supervisory team suggest that this project develops a strong intersectional feminist framework for studying the responses of diverse students which offers one of its potential theoretical contributions: the development of a framework that fully acknowledges racialised, faith-based or other cultural differences among students in HE.

This interdisciplinary supervision team will support the application of theoretical approaches from across Education, Sociology, Social Work and Youth Work, and brings expertise in educational tools and training methodologies from both formal and nonformal education, and knowledge and experience of methodologies for researching them, and for researching sexuality issues. This study will help the development of good practice in the delivery of consent education at NTU in partnership with the Student Support Services and could help advance evaluation technologies for education.


Alldred, P. and David, M. E. (2007) Get Real About Sex: The Politics and Practice of Sex Education. Open University Press.

Brady, G. and Lowe, P. (2020) 'Go on, go on, go on': sexual consent, child sexual exploitation and cups of tea. Children and Society, 34 (1), pp. 78-92. ISSN 0951-0605

Formby, E. and Donovan, C. (2020) Sex and relationships education for LGBT+ young people: Lessons from UK youth work, Sexualities, 23 (7) 1155-1178

Jones, T. (2019) Divergent pathways to inclusion for trans and intersex youth, in Youth, sexuality and sexual citizenship, ed Aggleton, P., Cover, R., Leahy, D., Marshall, D., ML Rasmussen. DOI: 10.4324/9781351214742

Jones, T. and Hillier, L. (2012) Sexuality education school policy for Australian GLBTIQ students, Sex Education 12 (4):1-18 DOI:10.1080/14681811.2012.677211

Student Support Services (2022) Consent is Everything 2021-2022 Evaluation - Highlights.

Whittington, E. (2020) “Rethinking consent with continuums: sex, ethics and young people.” Sex Education: sexuality, society and learning. DOI: 10.1080/14681811.2020.1840343

Whittington, E. (2019) “Understanding Sexual Consent: A Participatory Approach with Young People”, Doctoral Thesis (PhD), University of Sussex, UK.

Supervisory Team:

  • Prof Pam Alldred 
  • Dr Frances Howard
  • Prof Geraldine Brady

Entry qualifications

For the eligibility criteria, visit our studentship application page.

How to apply

To make an application, please visit our studentship application page.

Fees and funding

This is part of NTU's 2023 fully-funded PhD Studentship Scheme.

Guidance and support

Application guidance can be found on our studentship application page.

Still need help?

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