Young participant and chastity belt in our Intimate Worlds exhibition

Now recruiting schools in the South West – find out more! 

The University of Exeter’s Sex and History project is an award-winning and innovative initiative which aims to empower people of all ages – and especially young people – to talk more openly about the issues that really matter to them by using objects from past cultures as a stimulus for discussing issues relating to sex, sexuality and relationships. 

Our pioneering methodology harnesses the powerful effect of learning about what people from across time and place have thought about desire, arousal, intimacy, gender, body image, beauty, power and control.

Exploring different cultural attitudes takes us outside ourselves and our everyday concerns, brings fresh eyes to our own ideas and quite simply shows that sex is nothing new and it’s OK to talk about it.

Intriguing images from history provide an arresting focus for discussions, affording a safe distance from sensitive subjects and allowing us to bring in as little or as much about our feelings and experiences as we feel comfortable with.

Explore our current projects, including our resources for Relationships and Sex Education (RSE). 

See our past projects and events including our major exhibition Intimate Worlds.

Fisher and Langlands with Chinese fertility goddess at our Intimate Worlds exhibition

This project is led by Professors Rebecca Langlands ( and Kate Fisher ( an interdisciplinary initiative between the University of Exeter’s Classics and Ancient History department and Centre for Medical History.