The University of Newcastle, Australia
Not currently offered
Course code



10 units


3000 level

Course handbook


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, and ethical and existential reflections on the social management of death and dying.


Not currently offered.

This Course was last offered in Semester 2 - 2017.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course students will be able 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.


  1. 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.

Assumed knowledge

40 units at 1000 level.

Assessment items

Essay: Minor Essay

Presentation: Seminar Presentation

Participation: Group/tutorial participation and contribution

Formal Examination: Examination: Formal