Centre for Death & Society

Candles being lit by a river in Thailand

About the Centre for Death & Society

A University of Bath Research Showcase film about the Centre for Death & Society with Dr John Troyer and Dr Kate Woodthorpe.

Even in the most affluent society, risks around death remain. A feared, drawn-out dying through stroke, cancer or dementia becomes more likely the more affluent a society becomes.  Environmental concerns now render traditional ways to dispose of the dead problematic. Loss and bereavement threaten personal, social and economic wellbeing. Poverty and disadvantage create added risks, including the risk of dying much sooner. All these risks draw heavily on both public and private resources.

Yet research in both rich and poor countries also shows how practices around death can unite groups, develop communities and mobilise social change. For example, caring for a dying person at home requires yet can also build local social networks; collective provision for a decent funeral established the principle of social welfare in Victorian Britain and is doing so in a number of developing countries today; the anger of grief can motivate social movements for political and policy change.

Research focus

The Centre for Death & Society (CDAS) was established in September 2005 and is based in the Department of Social & Policy Sciences.

Our internationally recognised research on social aspects of death, dying and bereavement focuses on:

  • the experiences of people facing death and bereavement
  • practice and policy concerning the dying, the dead, and the bereaved
  • how end-of-life practices require yet can also foster community development
  • relationships between the living and the dead
  • how all this is influenced by economics, politics, inequality, social networks, technology and culture.

Research staff

Our research is carried out by:

At a time of growing interest in and concern for issues of mortality, we aim to be at the heart of national and international debate and networks – achieved through media engagement and a monthly e-newsletter. Seminars and an annual conference engage researchers, professions and the public in exploring contemporary issues. We host the editorial office of the inter-disciplinary journal Mortality.

Our staff aim to contribute to the research agendas of the Department of Social & Policy Sciences, the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, and the University of Bath. We aim for intellectual creativity, rigour in our research, and to engage – as relevant - with industry, the professions and government.


CDAS staff supervise doctoral students. CDAS does not itself run any courses, but several of our staff teach on the BSc courses in Social and Policy Sciences at the University of Bath.  If you take one of these 3 or 4 year degrees, you can take the final year optional unit Sociology of Death, write a dissertation in some aspect of death and society, and there will be opportunities to address death-related social issues in some of the other units. Courses at other universities are listed on our Useful Links page.