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 - elective course

MSc in Health Informatics - elective course

MSc in Global Health - elective course

MSc in Health Science - elective course

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 the body affects individuals’ ways to perform and relate to each other.


  • 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.

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester

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
Course paper: A paper to be written parallel to and after the course. Written individually , or in groups up until three students.

Extent of written assignments:
Students are obliged to disclose the number of characters of the submission of written assignments with maximum length. A standard page contains 2,400 characters including spaces. The individual pages can consist of fewer or more than 2,400 characters, but the total number of characters must not exceed 2,400 characters x max. number of pages, exclusive title page, table of contents and reference list. The course paper can be written individually (maximum 15 pages/ 36,000 characters including spaces) or in groups up until three students (2 students: maximum 24 pages; 3 students maximum 30 pages).
On the tasks and projects, which is a maximum length of the number of standard pages of 2,400 characters with spaces, the front page must contain an indication of number of characters in the assignment, excluding table of contents, abstract, tables, figures, bibliography and appendices, but including footnote or endnotes. Appendix, as a student wishes to be included in the overall assessment shall be identified and counted in the number of pages. If assignments exceed the permitted number of pages/characters, this must affect the assessment.

Management of receipts:
Any documents can be added at the end of the assignment file. For written take-home assignments, the student must be aware that in special cases might require appendices, such as audio files, central computer printouts, etc., if the examiner or co-examiner requires it. The student has an obligation to keep relevant material, until the assignment is assessed.

Group assignments:
Requirements for individualisation of written assignments means that the student must account for the students who have been the main responsibility for which section. This division must follow a meaningful division of the assignment, e.g. in paragraphs, sections, or subsections. Up to 1/3 of the assignment may be prepared with collective responsibility, which obviously can include the introduction and conclusion. The division of responsibility is displayed on a separate page, which is included in the task, but does not count towards characters, so that the assignment of roles and responsibilities is a single file that can easily be submitted in digital exam. A separate and individual grade will be given to each student.
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 create a course relevant problem/question to be discussed/answered in the paper and 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
  • Exam
  • 75
  • Preparation
  • 160
  • Class Instruction
  • 40
  • English
  • 275