HUMN 3031 Death and Culture

Credit Points 10

Legacy Code 100996

Coordinator Di Dickenson Opens in new window

Description This subject is a critical introduction to the social practices surrounding death in modernity. Although primarily addressing social arrangements in the West, the subject examines the bio-politics of death in a wider cultural framework, with attention to geographies of power and economic influence. The subject traces the historical development of concepts of the individual; the impact on Western ideas around death of genocide and modern warfare; and assesses contemporary ethical, social and medical controversies (like euthanasia and the trade in body parts). The subject attempts to demonstrate the relationship of death to: social institutions; ideas of community and the construction of self in modernity.

School Humanities & Comm Arts

Discipline Studies in Human Society, Not Elsewhere Classified.

Student Contribution Band HECS Band 4 10cp

Check your fees via the Fees page.

Level Undergraduate Level 3 subject

Equivalent Subjects LGYC 1307 - Death and Culture LGYA 0949 - Death and Culture


Successful completion of 60 credit points of study in currently enrolled program.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this subject, students should be able to:

  1. Critically evaluate the function of social debate around issues of vital social importance.
  2. Identify key issues about contemporary experiences of death and dying in a range of learning resources.
  3. Demonstrate their understanding of the historical origins of present day beliefs and practices around death and dying
  4. Apply theoretical knowledge to real-world situations and give a scholarly context to personal experience.

Subject Content

Content may vary between semesters of offering dependant on the teaching staff expertise and interests.
1. The history of death: 1800-1945
2. Grief, mourning and social ritual
3. Death in High Modernity
4. Mass death and the century of genocide
5. The economics of death: killing for science and profit
6. Death and the media
7. Death, trauma and the unmaking of community
8. Euthanasia
9. Legal Execution
10. Commodifying the corpse: the trade in body parts etc.
11. Deathwork
12. Virtual death
13. Virtual mourning


The following table summarises the standard assessment tasks for this subject. Please note this is a guide only. Assessment tasks are regularly updated, where there is a difference your Learning Guide takes precedence.

Type Length Percent Threshold Individual/Group Task
Portfolio of Responses to Topic Questions 6 x 300 words (1,800 words approximately in total) 50 N Individual
Concept Quiz (Online) 25 minutes (500 words approximately) 15 N Individual
Scenario Analysis task 1,500 words approximately 35 N Individual

Prescribed Texts

  • Kellehear, Allan. A Social History of Dying. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.
  • Death and Culture Subject Reader