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Death, Religion and Culture (MA/PgDip/PgCert)

Course Description

MA Death, Religion and Culture at Winchester explores the way in which death is the only inevitability of life. This universal reality is understood differently by various cultures and religious traditions, and those understandings are played out in rituals of death, dying and bereavement.

Programme Content

The programme attracts a diverse range of students including funeral directors, clergy from a variety of traditions, teachers, nurses and those preparing for a research degree, as well as a range of people who are simply fascinated by the subject.

Study provides a view of historical and current approaches to death and dying, disposal and bereavement rituals, enabling a meeting of professional groups and students with particular interests in this area of speciality.

See the website http://www.winchester.ac.uk/Studyhere/Pages/ma-death-religion-and-culture.aspx


Core modules:
- Contemporary Approaches to Death and Dying
- Research Methods
- Independent Study

Optional modules:
- Death in the Christian Tradition
- Death in World Religions
- The Pastoral Care of the Dying and Bereaved
- The Philosophy, Ethics and Theology of Death
- Death and Visual Culture
- Connecting Death to Professional Practice
- Death and Martyrdom
- Postgraduate Seminar

Learning and Teaching

Students undertake structured discussion and debate through electronic forums and are provided with guided course readings and access to the e-resources held in the University library in order to complete assessments.

A visit to a local crematorium, cemetery, mortuary and/or funeral home is an essential aspect of the programme.

The programme is taught by a team of highly qualified and enthusiastic staff who include internationally renowned scholars.


Types of assessment used include a review of practical activities such as site visits, alongside more traditional methods of assessment such as essays and book reviews. There are no examinations. Students complete a dissertation of 15,000-20,000 words on a subject of their choice within the realms of religion and death. It is a substantial piece of independent research and full tutorial support is provided.

At the University of Winchester validated programmes may adopt a range of means of assessing your learning. An indicative, and not necessarily comprehensive, list of assessment types you might encounter includes essays, portfolios, supervised independent work, presentations, written exams, or practical performances. The University is committed to ensuring that all students have an equal opportunity to achieve module learning outcomes. As such, where appropriate and necessary, students with recognised disabilities may have alternative assignments set that continue to test how successfully they have met the module's learning outcomes. Further details on assessment types used in the programme you are interested in can be found on the course page, by attending an Open Day/Evening, or contacting our teaching staff.


Graduates have gone on to work within bereavement counselling, funeral homes, teaching and the church.

Visit the Death, Religion and Culture (MA/PgDip/PgCert) page on the University of Winchester website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Nathalie Le Pen

MA Death, Religion and Culture

“I wanted to pursue MA Death, Religion and Culture at Winchester as it followed on nicely from my undergraduate degree in Ancient History and Social Anthropology at University College London and aligns with my volunteer work as a
bereavement counsellor.

“Before starting this degree, I’d had a long break from academia. The Programme Leader has been instrumental in helping me manage the transition, from talking through options to ensure I can balance study with family commitments to providing course support and answering questions.

“I live on the Isle of Wight so being able to utilise distance learning has been really beneficial – I’ve been able to fully participate using Skype and online facilities.

“The programme is mainly theoretical but with the opportunity for field research which enriches the learning
experience. I’m particularly looking forward to completing my dissertation which looks into the rise of woodland
burials in the UK.

“In September I am going to begin the PGCE Secondary Religious Education full-time at Winchester to train as a


Entry Requirements

Normally a first or second-class Honours degree in a related subject or professional experience in the area of study. If English is not your first language: IELTS 6.5 (including 6.5 in academic writing) or equivalent.

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