Sociology of Death and Dying

Course code SOCA3089Units 10Level 3000Faculty of Education and ArtsSchool of Humanities and Social Science

This course explores the social and cultural aspects of death, dying and bereavement. It surveys key theoretical perspectives, historical and cross cultural comparisons, and major studies in the field of human mortality. It explores rituals, social taboos, and other cultural practices relating to the social organisation of death and dying. Other issues include the lack of public openness and discussion about human mortality, the medicalisation of death and dying, the euthanasia debate, ethical and existential reflections on the social management of death and dying.

Not available in 2015

ObjectivesAt the end of this course students will be expected to:
1. Critically discuss contemporary sociological debates about death and dying;
2. Relate the social and cultural context of death and dying to wider social structures;
3 Demonstrate an understanding of the way conceptions of death and dying change over time, place and culture;
4. Understand the consequences of the medicalisation of death, dying and bereavement.
5. Identify and discuss key theories and concepts relating to human mortality in contemporary societies.
6. Demonstrate oral and written skills in discussing and evaluating different arguments and approaches in the study of human mortality;
7. Develop research and analytical skills in writing academic essays, seminar presentations and social analysis.
Content1. Key theories, concepts and debates in the sociology of death and dying;
2. The social organisation and management of death and dying;
3. Historical and cross-cultural analysis and comparisons of human mortality;
4. Images of death, dying and bereavement in film, art, literature, music and popular culture;
5. The medicalisation of death, dying and bereavement;
6. The Euthanasia debate;
7. The denial of death and suppression of grief in contemporary western societies;
8. Cultural practices and rituals relating to dying, death, burial, mourning, remembrance;
9. Human mortality, social inequality and social structure.
Replacing Course(s)SOCA3169 Death, Dying & Human Mortality
TransitionStudents who have completed SOCA3169 are not eligible to enrol in this course.
Industrial Experience0
Assumed Knowledge40 units at 1000 level.
Modes of DeliveryInternal Mode
Teaching MethodsSeminar
Assessment Items
Essays / Written AssignmentsMinor Essay (1,500 words) due mid semester - 20%
Examination: Formal50%
Group/tutorial participation and contributionParticipation is assessed on students demonstrated evidence of class preparation each week. This includes having studied the prescribed readings and other allocated tasks. Participation also entails contribution to seminar discussion in a way which reflects the student's preparation and understanding of the topics. 10%
Other: (please specify)Seminar Presentation - one seminar presentation accompanied by a 500 word summary and class handout, due by arrangement across the semester - 20%
Contact HoursSeminar: for 2 hour(s) per Week for Full Term