This unit applies insights drawn from Christian spirituality and material culture to study a variety of responses to death, dying and bereavement. Students will be expected to engage with historical and contemporary theories and practices dealing with death and grieving. Theological reflection on and critical assessment of these practices will acquaint students with an understanding of the needs of the terminally ill and the bereaved.

Unit code: DS2214Y

Unit status: Approved (New unit)

Points: 18.0

Unit level: Undergraduate Level 2

Unit discipline: Spirituality

Proposing College: Yarra Theological Union

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Learning outcomes


Articulate the foundational beliefs that underlie two Christian rituals surrounding death and dying


Identify how a work of art (of your choice) expresses cultural and spiritual attitudes to death and dying


Demonstrate familiarity with several theories of grieving


Identify (with visual examples) how art in the past might have enhanced pastoral care of the dying and the bereaved

Unit sequence

Six bi-weekly classes of six hours each conducted face to face. This unit explores the role of material culture as a source for identifying and interpreting Christian spiritual practices in the care of the dying and bereaved

Indicative Bibliography

• No set texts • Readings will be provided on line for the students at the commencement of the unit

  • Anderson, M. Sacred Dying: Creating Rituals for the End of life. New York: Marlowe and Company, 2003.
  • De Pascale, Enrico. Death and Resurrection in Art. Translated by Anthony Shuggar. Los Angeles: 2007
  • Kellehear, A. Death and Dying in Australia. Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 2000.
  • Kelly, M. Grief: Contemporary Theory and The Practice of Ministry. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2010.
  • Morrill, Bruce, Divine Worship and Human Healing: Liturgical Theology at the Margins of Life and Death. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical press, 1990.
  • Morrill Bruce and Susan Rodgers and Joanna Ziegler (eds.). Practicing Catholic Ritual, Body and Contestation in Catholic Faith. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006.
  • Musgrave, B. And N. McGettigan, (eds.). Spiritual and Psychological Aspects of Illness: Dealing with Sickness, Loss, Dying and Death. New York: Paulist Press, 2010.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)
Critical Review

A critical review of two scholarly articles 1000 words

1000 30.0

Material culture analysis (Written report on two material objects which provide evidence of the historical context of the objects to death, dying or bereavement.) 1000 words

1000 30.0

Choose from ONE of the following alternatives:

a. Essay 2500 words


b. Presentation i.e photograph, picture; poetry (performed); film or video; drama/dramatic performance; which displays one or more themes studied in this unit. This work will be accompanied by a written reflection (total equivalent to 2500 words).

2500 40.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 19 Jul, 2018

Unit record last updated: 2019-05-07 13:57:45 +1000