The Sociology of Aging and Dying

Course content

The aim is to explore and discuss social aspects of aging and dying in modern societies. Furthermore, to study and describe dilemmas in the implementation of sufficient care in relation to the growing number of elderly people and severely ill patients. First part of the course will introduce the notion of ‘healthy aging’ and the implementation of this norm in relation to elderly users of the welfare system. Secondly, the course will present historical and cultural backgrounds for the concepts around death and dying, related to the field of thanatology (death studies). Thirdly, the use of technologies to prevent aging and dying will be studied and compared to the ‘death awareness movement’, which promote an encounter with mortality. 


MSc in Public Health Science

Open for BSc students in Public Health Science who have passed 1st semester BSc course in Sociology (or similar).

Learning outcome

At the end of the course the students should be able to:


  • To understand aging and dying in contemporary society as a site of social and cultural negotiation of coming to terms with mortality.

  • To understand the role of elderly population’s lived experiences in relation to governance and altered ways of being in an aging or dying body.

  • To understand how thebody affects’ways to


  • Have developed a sociological awareness of the aging and dying body in society in a public health scientific perspective.




  • Be able to analyse contemporary social issues in relation to the aging and dying body and public health;

  • Be able to demonstrate critical thinking skills in applying a sociological perspective to the area of gerontology and thanatology.

Lectures, student presentations, class and group discussions, tutorials

Passed course in Sociology SFOA09006U at BSc level in the BSc in Public Health Science (or similar).

This course is open for MSc students from MSc in Global Health, MSc in Health Science and MSc in Health Informatics without pre-approval.

Informal verbal feedback: during lectures and tutorials for individual and group work.

Formative feedback: during the course when the students contribute regularly by short presentations of course relevant texts/material.

Summative feedback: as a grade on the assessed coursework.

Type of assessment
Written assignment
Essay: A paper to be written parallel to and after the course. Written individually (15 pages (15 x 2400 characters (with spaces, references excluded), or in groups up until three students (see guidelines for number of pages).
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
One internal examiner
Criteria for exam assessment

To achieve the maximum grade of 12, the student is expected to:


  • With application of sociological literature and other relevant literature to demonstrate an understanding of cases within the context of aging and dying in society.


  • Demonstrating written communication skills in a well-reasoned paper.

  • Demonstrating the ability to select and use relevant literature relating to the chosen problem and the gerontological or thanatological case(s).


  • Analysing and discussing aging and dying and the treatment of elderly people or severely ill patients in a sociological and public health perspective.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 30
  • Exam
  • 75
  • Preparation
  • 170
  • English
  • 275