Death, Grief and Culture - 2017

Unit summary


  • Level of Study: Undergraduate Level 3
  • Study load: 0.125 EFTSL
  • Delivery method: Fully Online
  • Prerequisites: No
  • Duration: 13 weeks
  • Government loans available: FEE-HELP, HECS-HELP
  • Availability for 2017: SP2 , SP3
  • Availability for 2018: SP2 , SP3
  • Assessment: Bibliography - Annotated (25%) , Essay (35%) - Learn more

Unit provided by

2017 Fees
Domestic 793.00
HECS 793.00
International 1,043.00

A key definition distinguishing human beings from other animals is that humans live in the knowledge of their mortality. This unit explores the human condition of death and dying as it draws from interdisciplinary research literatures and cultural objects, including film and memoir. It examines major psychological and psychoanalytic concepts of grief, mourning and melancholia as well as key themes on topics such as: death and memorialisation online; cross-cultural death rites and beliefs; the politics of morning; legal issues and the politics of euthanasia; dark tourism; death and memoir; death and celebrity culture; death denial and taboo; death and representation; love and death.

After successfully completing this unit you should be able to:

1. Understand the complexity of grief and its expressions cross-culturally;

2. Understand the profound impact of human mortality in the production of culture generally;

3. Reflect upon your own values and attitudes in relation to death and the morning ritual;

4. Understand the impact of secularisation and medicalisation on modern death culture;

5. Understand conceptual, historical and social aspects of death, dying and grief culture.

  • Bibliography — Annotated (25%)
  • Essay (35%)
  • Non-Invigilated Exam — Multiple Choice (20%)
  • Online Discussion (20%)

There are no prerequisites for this unit.

Note: Level 3 units normally assume a moderate level of prior knowledge in this area, eg from studying related Level 1 and 2 units or other relevant experience.

This unit addresses the following topics.

1Ways of seeing death.
2Cemeteries as social space.
3Concepts of grief and morning.
4Grief and its cultural dimensions.
5Mourning and memory in the digital age.
6Representations of death.
7Photography and memory.
8Assisted suicide and euthanasia.

This unit is delivered using the following methods and materials:

Instructional Methods

  • Discussion Forum/Discussion Board
  • Embedded Multimedia
  • Online assignment submission
  • Podcasting/Lecture capture
  • Standard Media

Online materials

  • Printable format materials
  • Resources and Links

This unit is part of a major, minor, stream or specialisation in the following courses:

This unit may be eligible for credit towards other courses:

  1. Many undergraduate courses on offer through OUA include 'open elective' where any OUA unit can be credited to the course. You need to check the Award Requirements on the course page for the number of allowed open electives and any level limitations.
  2. In other cases, the content of this unit might be relevant to a course on offer through OUA or elsewhere. In order to receive credit for this unit in the course you will need to supply the provider institution with a copy of the Unit Profile in the approved format, which you can download here. Note that the Unit Profile is set at the start of the year, and if textbooks change this may not match the Co-Op textbook list.

Textbooks are subject to change within the academic year. Students are advised to purchase their books no earlier than one to two months before the start of a unit.

Click on the titles of the listed books below to find out more:

Required textbooks

  • Very Easy Death

    By:De Beauvoir

    ISBN: 9780394728995


    Supplier:Go to The Co-op Bookshop

  • A Grief Observed

    By:C. S. Lewis

    ISBN: 9780571290680


    Supplier:Go to The Co-op Bookshop

  • Objects Of The Dead

    By:Margaret Gibson

    ISBN: 9780522855579


    Supplier:Go to The Co-op Bookshop

  • Death & Dying


    ISBN: 9780745625348


    Supplier:Go to The Co-op Bookshop

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