Cultural Representations of Death and Dying DUMF5131

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: No
  • Taught Wholly by Distance Learning: Yes

Short Description

This course examines how death and dying have been represented in popular culture (film, TV, mainstream fiction), visual arts (fine art, photography) and literary genres (creative non-fiction) over the last half century. Students will be introduced to methods of visual and literary analysis and learn to identify specific cultural tropes used to represent the end of life. There will be in-depth case studies from different artistic genres and different countries, examining the maker's motivation, the specific form chosen, and the reception. Students will be able to choose a specific artistic genre to examine in more depth and will create a piece of work in that genre for assessment.


Online delivery - None

Online delivery - 1x 90 minute seminar per week

Requirements of Entry

Entry to the programme

Excluded Courses





Creative representation of end of life, using a medium of the student's choice (50%)

Critical reflective report of 1500 words (50%)

Course Aims

1. To enable students to develop visual and literary analysis skills in order to then assess and interpret different cultural representations of end of life.


2. To engage with examples of specific visual and cultural tropes and narratives used to represent end of life across a broad range of artistic media.


3.To foster students' own imaginative and creative skills by developing their own representations or adapting existing representations of dying, death and end of life.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

1. Apply the skills of visual and literary analysis to identify and critically reflect on various recurring tropes and narratives used to represent death and dying


2. Evaluate key literary texts and films which have influenced end of life debates


3. Create their own visual or literary representations on which they are then able to offer critical commentary in light of knowledge and skills developed on the course.

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.