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Morbidity, Culture & Corpses - SOC00040H

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  • Department: Sociology
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Sian Beynon-Jones
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2021-22

Module summary

This module seeks to explore issues of death and corpses from a sociological perspective by addressing societal shifts and stratification as well as death spaces and social relations with the dead.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Spring Term 2021-22

Module aims

By the end of the module students will be able to:

  • Critically engage with the consequences of societal shifts such as rising individualization and aggressive consumerism in relation to growing morbidity
  • Critically discuss the spaces of work, entertainment and education in which the dead are encountered
  • Critically examine social relations with the dead through expression of marginalised and public grief
  • Critically engage with the relationships between morbidity, space, media and social stratification

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module students will:

Subject content:

  • Critically engage with the debates about death denial and death taboo
  • Critically engage with global fascination with death, dying and corpses as a form of popular culture as a site of social stratification
  • Critically discuss the disposal of corpses and issues of disgust
  • Critically explore the issues surrounding high profile death

Academic and graduate skills:

  • have greater knowledge and experience of critical thinking and analysis
  • have experience of applying their knowledge in the judgement and evaluation of evidence
  • have more advanced study skills
  • have greater experience of and confidence in their written and oral communication skills
  • have experience of and be able to recognise the value of group working

Module content

Students are encouraged to go on various field trips to support their learning including but not limited to St Georges Churchyard, Fulford Cemetery and York Cemetery, Cliffords Tower and York Dungeon.

The self-guided York Death and Culture Walk with its podcasts is also a vital component of the learning experience for the module.


Task Length % of module mark
Assessment 1 - Essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Assessment 1 - Essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

Oral feedback is provided by module convenors and peers in the module workshops on ideas, and questions relating to module materials.

Written feedback is provided on summative assessments

Indicative reading

Butler (2009) Frames of War: When is Life Grieveable? UK: Verso Books.

Khapaeva, D (2018) The Celebration of Death in Contemporary Culture, US: University of Michagan Press.

Layne (2003) Motherhood lost: A Feminist Account of Pregnancy Loss in America, UK: Routledge.

Penfold-Mounce (2018) Death, The Dead and Popular Culture, UK: Emerald Publishing


The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.