Please note: there may be some adjustments to the teaching arrangements published in the course catalogue for 2020-21. Given current circumstances related to the Covid-19 pandemic it is anticipated that some usual arrangements for teaching on campus will be modified to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff on campus; further adjustments may also be necessary, or beneficial, during the course of the academic year as national requirements relating to management of the pandemic are revised.

Compassionate Communities: Promises, Practices and Pitfalls DUMF5130

  • Academic Session: 2021-22
  • School: School of Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: No
  • Available to Erasmus Students: No
  • Taught Wholly by Distance Learning: Yes

Short Description

This course examines the rapidly growing interest in the creation of 'compassionate communities' that seek to make care of the dying and bereaved 'everyone's business'. It explores the rise of an approach in many countries around the world that seeks to complement the role of professional services, by mobilising community assets to support people in the face of death. At the same time is scrutinises the evidence for the effectiveness of this type of community intervention and the extent to which it is sustainable. Case examples, such as the neighbourhood networks in Palliative Care (Kerala, India) and Compassionate Inverclyde (Scotland, UK) will be examined in detail. The course also examines related forms of community intervention - such as the interest in death cafes and death doulas - that are emerging in many contexts around the world.


Online delivery - None

Online delivery - 1x 90 minute seminar per week

Requirements of Entry

Entry to the programme

Excluded Courses





1. Essay of 2,000 (70%)

2. Poster (30%)

Course Aims

1. To enable students to develop an understanding of the history and development of the compassionate communities movement, including its underlying principles and modes of operation.


2. To introduce students to the descriptive and empirical literature on compassionate communities, and foster critical skills in assessing the available research evidence that has been generated on compassionate communities' principles, practices and impact upon policy.


3. To develop a critical perspective on the concept and practice of compassion at the end of life, and on the claim that compassion can be generated for measureable benefit to communities in diverse cultures and resource settings.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:


1. Synthesise and assess the claims relating to compassionate community approaches to end of life care, taking account of differing cultural and resource contexts.


2. Analyse the underlying principles of the compassionate communities approach, taking account of contrasting theoretical perspectives on the nature of community, community development and mobilisation.


3. Create a model for the compassionate communities approach that could be implemented and evaluated in a community of the student's choice.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.