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Death and Dying: The End of Life in Britain's Long Nineteenth Century (Level 7)


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 7
  • Convenor and tutorDr Carmen M. Mangion
  • Assessment: a presentation (0%), 1000-word book review (20%) and 4000-word essay (80%)

Module description

In this module we examine developments in the social and cultural understandings of death and dying in Britain from the late eighteenth century to the early twentieth century. We will examine cultural responses - such as behaviours, beliefs and emotions - to these phenomena and question what they can tell us about changes to social structures, individual and community identities and family relationships. We will also address social class, gender, religion, secularisation and the medicalisation of the body as influences to changing ideas of death.

Engaging with historical texts, literature and visual sources, you will develop your historical interpretation skills and understand how diverse responses to death reflected wider social and cultural change.

Indicative syllabus

  • Medical marketplace
  • Good death
  • Suicide
  • Infanticide
  • Pauper funerals and dissection
  • Hospice movement
  • Cemeteries and funerals
  • The afterlife
  • Spiritualism
  • War memorials

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • identify and appraise the social, cultural, political and medical context and reasons for shifting cultures of death in Britain’s long nineteenth century questioning the nature of the ambiguities and contradictions of these shifts
  • evaluate and reflect on scholarly debates through reading and discussions of the secondary literature on death and dying in Britain's long nineteenth century
  • approach critically both large-scale historical issues and the historiography relating to them
  • evaluate primary sources, whether texts or images, and understand their context, strengths and limitations, and value.