Professor Marshall


Death and Dying


COURSE PREREQUISITE: Introductory Sociology

COURSE DESCRIPTION: Social processes associated with aging, death and dying in American society. Demonstrates the meaning in our culture of these three interrelated stages of life.

NOTES: This course is designed as a survey course, meaning that you will be introduced to new material each week, and with the exception of the first few weeks, these materials will not build upon each other. The assignments in this course are not standard collegiate essay-type assignments, and this will require you to be creative and diligent in your thinking and presentation of understandings of course materials.


At the conclusion of this course, you should be able to meet specific course objectives. Course objectives are often centered on activities and assessments that you'll complete in a course. These activities and assessments will be varied--reading assigned materials and texts, writing assignments, exams, tests and other assigned activites will help you to meet the objectives that are defined for this course. Nothing in this FREE course is graded-- you choose how much (or how little) work you want to complete.

This course is designed to:

  1. Expand your sociological understanding and knowledge of the cultural issues surrounding death, dying and grief with a special emphasis on the United States;
  2. Explore social and personal attitudes and beliefs toward death and dying;
  3. Promote critical thinking, analytical skills and problem-solving approaches;
  4. Examine the impacts of institutions on the behavior of the dying individual and on the behavior of the family of the dying individual;
  5. Describe arguments for and against the death penalty.


Upon completion of this course, you should be able to: 

  1. Recognize cultural assumptions about death and dying in contemporary America;
  2. Identify structural gaps for individuals and loved ones related to death and dying;
  3. Interpret theoretical perspectives of death and dying;
  4. Discuss the value of research-based arguments related to the death penalty;
  5. Demonstrate personal communication skills that respectfully recognize others' point of view.


You will demonstrate their mastery of the goals and outcomes by:

  1. Completion of reading assignments as outlined by instructor;
  2. Completing additional research on information relevant to course content;
  3. Demonstrating competence regarding theoretical frameworks that are specific to social problems related to death and dying;


TEXTBOOK INFORMATION: There is NO required textbook, however for your own knowledge and reinforcement of concepts you'll learn in this course, you may find that a sociology textbook which specializes in the study of death and dying is helpful. One such book which I have found to be very valuable is Kastenbaum's Death, Society and Human Experience (Pearson, ISBN 13: 978-0-205-00108-8)

TECHNOLOGY: RELIABLE access to the Internet as well as to Microsoft Word, Microsoft, PowerPoint, speakers and headphones is necessary.


ATTENDANCE: This course is self-paced and not graded; it is NOT for college credit. You will not enroll to take the course and you may take as much time as you need to complete the materials.

END USER LICENSE AGREEMENT: All handouts and electronic course materials are the property of their respective copyright holders. Use is permitted within the confines of this course and for the exclusive use of the student after the course. Distribution to others is expressly prohibited and may be a violation of state/federal laws, unless following the license terms at the bottom of this page. This includes any uploading to public or private websites or other methods of electronic distribution which violate the license terms at the bottom of this page. Should you violate this agreement I reserve the right to pursue legal action under current state and federal laws.