We humans simply have to talk about death. But what exactly is death? How shall we talk about it in ways that are honest, meaningful, and responsible? In this unit, students will undertake a theological investigation into the subject of death utilising the resources of Christian belief and significant thinkers in the Western tradition: from the ancient Greek poets and playwrights through to the cultural critics and philosophers of modernity.

Unit code: CT3011W

Unit status: Approved (Major revision)

Points: 18.0

Unit level: Undergraduate Level 3

Unit discipline: Systematic Theology

Proposing College: Whitley College

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Learning outcomes


Identify and analyse a variety of ways that the Western and Christian theological traditions have thought about death.


Critically evaluate such understandings in light of and in conversation with other resources employed by Christian theology.


Articulate a coherent theological response to the question ‘What is death?’

Unit sequence

36 points in CT


Lectures, seminars, classroom discussion

Indicative Bibliography

  • Allison Jr., Dale C. Night Comes: Death, Imagination, and the Last Things. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2016.
  • Anderson, Ray S. Theology, Death and Dying. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1986.
  • Billings, J. Todd. The End of the Christian Life: How Embracing Our Mortality Frees Us to Truly Live. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2020.
  • Bradley, Ben, Fred Feldman, and Jens Johansson, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Death. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.
  • Heidegger, Martin. Being and Time. Translated by John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson. Oxford: Blackwell, 1962.
  • Jüngel, Eberhard. Death: The Riddle and the Mystery. Translated by Iain Nicol and Ute Nicol. Edinburgh: The Saint Andrew Press, 1975.
  • Kalantzis, George, and Matthew Levering, eds. Christian Dying: Witnesses from the Tradition. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2018.
  • May, Todd. Death. Abingdon: Routledge, 2014.
  • Novello, Henry L. Death as Transformation: A Contemporary Theology of Death. Farnham: Ashgate, 2011.
  • Rose, Gillian. Love's Work. London: Chatto & Windus, 1995.
  • Seneca, Lucius Annaeus. On the Shortness of Life. Translated by Charles D. N. Costa. New York: Penguin Books, 2005.
  • Tolstoy, Leo. The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories. Translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2009.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)
Document Study

Document Study (1,000 words)

1000 25.0
Annotated Bibliography

Annotated Bibliography (1,000 words)

1000 25.0

Essay (3,000 words)

3000 50.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by Maggie Kappelhoff on 3 Sep, 2021

Unit record last updated: 2021-09-03 08:55:45 +1000