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*Subject to revalidation

  • Examine historical and current approaches to death and dying
  • Understand bereavement rituals in different cultural and religious contexts
  • Useful preparation for a range of careers serving the dying and bereaved

Death, Religion and Culture at Winchester is a distance learning course that explores the universal reality of death. You examine the ways in which death and dying are understood differently by various cultures and religious traditions, and how those understandings are played out in rituals of death, dying and bereavement.

The programme attracts a diverse range of students including funeral directors, clergy from a variety of traditions, teachers, nurses and those preparing for a research degree, as well as a range of people who are simply fascinated by the subject. This dynamic group ensures that your debates and discussions are lively and informed by a breath of interests and experiences.

Modules include Contemporary Approaches to Death and Dying, Death in World Religions, The Theology, Philosophy and Ethics of Death, Pastoral Care of the Dying and Bereaved, and Philosophical Approaches to Mourning and Eulogy. You also complete a dissertation of 15,000 to 20,000 words on a relevant topic of your choice.

The programme is taught by a team of highly qualified and enthusiastic staff who include internationally renowned scholars. You take part in structured discussion and debate through electronic forums, and are provided with guided course readings and access to the digital resources held in the University library in order to complete assessments. A visit to a local crematorium, cemetery, mortuary and/or funeral home is an essential aspect of the course.

Graduates of the course pursue a range of careers including bereavement counselling, work in funeral homes, teaching and church ministries.

Find out more about the Department for Theology, Religion and Philosophy


Graduates have gone on to work within bereavement counselling, funeral homes, teaching and the church.

*Subject to revalidation

This course is subject to revalidation. 'Revalidation' is the process by which the University refreshes its existing provision. Revalidation assesses the quality and standards of the programme to ensure it continues to provide a distinct, high quality academic experience for students, enabling them to acquire the necessary academic knowledge, understanding, general and subject-specific skills required to pursue a graduate level career.


Suitable for applicants from:

UK, EU, World

Learning and teaching

Start date: September

Distance learning available: This course is offered as distance learning only

Teaching takes place: There are e-seminars in the evenings, with full tutorial and study skills support

Students undertake structured discussion and debate through electronic forums and are provided with guided course readings and access to the e-resources held in the University library in order to complete assessments.
A visit to a local crematorium, cemetery, mortuary and/or funeral home is an essential aspect of the programme.
The programme is taught by a team of highly qualified and enthusiastic staff who include internationally renowned scholars.


Our validated courses may adopt a range of means of assessing your learning. An indicative, and not necessarily comprehensive, list of assessment types you might encounter includes essays, portfolios, supervised independent work, presentations, written exams, or practical performances.
We ensure all students have an equal opportunity to achieve module learning outcomes. As such, where appropriate and necessary, students with recognised disabilities may have alternative assignments set that continue to test how successfully they have met the module's learning outcomes. Further details on assessment types used on the course you are interested in can be found on the course page, by attending an Open Day or Open Evening, or contacting our teaching staff.


We are committed to providing timely and appropriate feedback to you on your academic progress and achievement in order to enable you to reflect on your progress and plan your academic and skills development effectively. You are also encouraged to seek additional feedback from your course tutors.

Further information

For more information about our regulations for this course, please see our Academic Regulations, Policies and Procedures



Normally a first or second-class Honours degree or professional experience in the area of study.

The course is great for anyone with an interest in exploring death as a subject area, and how religion and culture affect perceptions of death, dying and bereavement. No previous knowledge of religion or death studies is required although some summer reading would help students prepare.

If English is not your first language: IELTS 6.0 overall with a minimum of 5.5 in writing or equivalent

Personal computing requirements

Due to the Distance Learning deliverance of the course there are minimum personal computing requirements. Please see the Distance Learning Policy.    

Course enquiries and applications

Telephone: +44 (0) 1962 827234
Send us a message

International students

If you are living outside of the UK or Europe, you can find out more about how to join this course by emailing our International Recruitment Team at or calling +44 (0)1962 827023. Applications need to be submitted by 31st May 2022.

Visit us

Explore our campus and find out more about studying at Winchester by coming to one of our Open Evenings.


Year 1 (Level 7)

Modules Credits

Contemporary Approaches to Death and Dying 20

This core module will focus on the ways in which contemporary societies respond to the problems posed by human mortality. It will apply the diverse methodologies of Religious Studies and Theology to the study of these beliefs and rituals (such as Anthropology, Cultural Studies, Sociology, Psychology). It will examine through the critical analysis of a number of dominant theories the problems of establishing a credible meta-narrative about human mortality in the face of the diversity of human experiences of death and the complexities that arise within a multi-ethnic, multi-faith and multi-cultural Western context, and the wider world.

This module includes a critical reflection report on a self-arranged visit to a relevant site (green burial site, cemetery, funeral directors, crematoria), and incorporates academic study skills.

Gateway to Independent Study 20

This module builds is designed to facilitate the development of a research enquiry in the form of a written dissertation. In conjunction with a supervisor, continuing students will develop their plans for their Independent Study, ensuring they have explored a variety of relevant research methodologies, developed a literature review for their chosen subject area and understood the requirements of research ethics.

Students intending to continue to Independent Study are required to pass this module, ensuring the viability of their chosen project and equipping them to complete the Independent Study Registration form as the first task within the Independent Study.

Independent Study 60

In 15-20,000 words, candidates must argue and discuss with a full critical method a stated proposition which is to be presented and defended by demonstration of appropriate materials and the proper use of evidence. The proposition must be one which relates to the subject matter of the Programme and which permits the demonstration of independent research, study and reflection. 

In discussion with the Programme Leader the dissertation, an appropriate work-related project may contribute to the 15-20,000 word piece of work.


Optional Modules
  • Death in the Christian Tradition – 20 Credits
  • Death in World Religions – 20 Credits
  • Death and Martyrdom – 20 Credits
  • The Philosophy, Ethics and Theology of Death – 20 Credits
  • The Pastoral Care of the Dying and Bereaved – 20 Credits
  • Death and Visual Culture – 20 Credits
  • Philosophical Approaches to Mourning and Eulogy – 20 Credits
  • Connecting Death to Professional Practice – 20 Credits
  • Postgraduate Seminar – 20 Credits

Please note the modules listed are correct at the time of publishing, for full-time students entering the programme in Year 1. Optional modules are listed where applicable. Please note the University cannot guarantee the availability of all modules listed and modules may be subject to change. For further information please refer to the terms and conditions at
The University will notify applicants of any changes made to the core modules listed above.

Progression from one level of the programme to the next is subject to meeting the University’s academic regulations.

2022 Course Tuition Fees

UK/Channel Islands and Isle of Man

Full-time entry | £6,900
Part-time entry | £3,450 p/a

Total Cost | £6,900

International Students

Distance Learning only:

Full-time entry | £9,250
Part-time entry | £4,625 p/a

Total Cost | £9,250


As one of our students, all of your teaching and assessments are included in your tuition fees including, lectures/guest lectures and tutorials, seminars, laboratory sessions and specialist teaching facilities. You will also have access to a wide range of student support and IT services.

There might be additional costs you may encounter whilst studying. The following highlights the mandatory and optional costs for this course:


Core texts

Due to copyright restrictions, compulsory modules require students to purchase the core texts. Some Core Texts can be bought second hand which can often reduce this cost. Indicative cost for compulsory modules is £30. Indicative cost for optional modules is £50-£100.

Printing and Binding

The University is pleased to offer our students a free printing allowance of £20 each academic year. This will print around 500 A4 mono pages. If students wish to print more, printer credit can be topped up by the student. The University and Student Union are champions of sustainability and we ask all our students to consider the environmental impact before printing. Our Reprographics team also offer printing and binding services, including dissertation binding which may be required by your course with an indicative cost of £1.50-£3.



We have a variety of scholarship and bursaries available to support you financially with the cost of your course. To see if you’re eligible, please see our Scholarships and Awards.

Key course details

Full-time: 1 year; Part-time: 2 years
Typical offer
Normally a first or second-class Honours degree
Distance learning only