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Morbidity, Culture & Corpses - SOC00040H

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  • Department: Sociology
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Daniel Robins
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2023-24

Module summary

This module explores the social context of death and the dead from a sociological perspective of death studies. As part of your exploration of death, you will become a ‘dark tourist’ by completing the Death and Culture Walk in York and understand the role of history and storytelling in understanding human mortality.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2023-24

Module aims

Are we living in a death denial society? What do zombies, vampires and the news media teach us about mortality? How does is grief expressed and how does it vary depending on what is being grieved for? This module introduces you to the sociological study of death and the relationship mortality shares with spaces and places as well as media and social stratification. It offers a comprehensive engagement with key themes, concepts and theories about mortality and will deepen your knowledge of how death, dying and the dead have been researched. You will evaluate a range of debates and ideas as well as develop a podcast for the York Death and Culture Walk and develop reflective practices to foster self awareness of your strengths and motivations.

Module learning outcomes

  1. Critically and creatively evaluate the sociological connections between death, culture and society
  2. Use sociological analyses to make sense of the wider significance of the study of death
  3. Evaluate and synthesise a range of theoretical and empirical work that has been conducted into mortality
  4. Work collaboratively to organise, present and communicate your ideas clearly and effectively to others.
  5. Develop reflective practices to foster greater self awareness of your strengths, motivations and areas for improvement.

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.

It is essential to complete the self-guided York Death and Culture Walk.


Task Length % of module mark
Death and Culture Podcast and transcript
N/A 50
Podcast Review
N/A 50

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
TWO podcast reviews of Death and Culture Walk.
N/A 100

Module feedback

For formative work - Short Written Assessment (podcast review)- students will receive written or verbal feedback on how to improve their skills in areas that will contribute towards their summative assessment. The formative assessments provide practice for the summative tasks which are in line with LO, particularly 1&5.

For summative work - podcast and podcast reflection - students will receive an overall mark and grading according to clearly defined criteria for assessing their knowledge, skills and abilities in line with LOs 1-5. They will also receive written feedback showing areas in which they have done well and those areas in which they need to improve that will contribute to their progress.

Indicative reading

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

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.