Centre for Death & Society


Our members have a formal appointment at the University and are predominantly based in the Department of Social & Policy Sciences.

For general enquires see our contact page.

Academic staff

Dr John Troyer • Centre Director

John Troyer

John became CDAS Director in 2015. John focuses on locating and defining the concept of the dead body in relation to science and technology. His research on death and dying, coupled with his cultural studies of science and technology research, complements the work already occurring in the Centre.

Research interests

  • The social and technological control of the dead body in both time and space through mechanical manipulation of human biology
  • The legal, scientific and medical protocols that determine social policies, for example, those which pronounce a time of death for human beings
  • The illicit, global trade in human tissues and body parts
  • Cultural studies of death and dying
  • Death and architecture
  • Aesthetics and death


Jo Davis

Jo started work at the University in June 2017 as Professional practice Tutor for the BSc (hons) Social Work & Applied Social Studies.  Jo completed the MSc in Death and Society at the University and spent the majority of her time in practice as a specialist palliative care social worker; including working with the bereaved.  Jo has supported many social work students in training to experience this complex multidisciplinary area of social work practice.


Dr Jeremy Dixon

Jeremy Dixon is a lecturer in social work at the University of Bath.  He is a specialist in mental health issues and holds a doctorate from Cardiff University.  His research focusses on the way in which people with mental health problems assess and manage their own risk.  He continues to practice as a mental health practitioner.

Research Interests:

  • Sociology of mental health and illness
  • Risk and uncertainty 
  • Socio-legal decision making
  • Formal and informal networks of care
  • Mental capacity


Dr Abbi Jordan

Dr Abbie Jordan is Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Bath and a Chartered Health Psychologist with specific interests in the area of bereavement, adolescent chronic pain and chronic illness.   

Abbie’s current research interests focus concern exploring the experiences of parents and wider family members after the loss of a baby and their support needs.  In particular, Abbie is interested in exploring issues of loss and identity after bereavement relating to a multiple birth for parents and the wider family unit.   


Research Interests:

  • Family narratives concerning the experience of paediatric pain
  • Parenting and parental experience in the context of caring for a young person with pain
  • Social development and adolescent chronic pain
  • Paediatric pain assessment and measurement 
  • Familial experience of bereavement
  • Parental support needs and identity after loss of a baby
  • The psychosocial and familial impact of chronic health conditions


Dr Hannah Rumble

Hannah Rumble

Dr Rumble is a social anthropologist with an interest in death, dying and disposal, both human and non-human. Her regional focus is the United Kingdom, where her previous research has addressed 'funeral poverty' in the UK, the British natural burial movement and young people's creative responses to death and places of disposal and memory. Dr Rumble has conducted numerous projects with community partnerships; most recently, in adult social care settings delivering intergenerational activities with residents and visiting primary school pupils across Bristol, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset to address social isolation in older adults.

Currently, when not working on a direct cremation research project with colleagues at CDAS, she is fulfilling duties in her roles as: a Senior Research Associate at the University of Bristol, the Early Career's Representative on the General Council of the Association for the Study of Death and Society and as a member of the Editorial board for the academic journal, Mortality: Promoting the Interdisciplinary Study of Death and Dying.

Research Interests:

  • Natural burial
  • Human-Animal Relations
  • Participatory and Action Research
  • Death in the anthropocene 

Dr Paula Smith

Paula Smith

Paula is a member of the Department of Psychology at the University of Bath.  She is a Chartered Health Psychologist who also has a nursing background. Her PhD, from the University of Southampton, concerned the support needs of family caregivers in palliative care settings. More recently, Paula has been a lecturer in nursing and was Course Leader for the MSc in Palliative Care at the University of Sheffield.

Paula is currently a member of the steering group of Help the Hospices 'Care for the Carer' project, a five year project aimed at highlighting and supporting carers in hospice settings.

Research Interests

  • The support needs of family caregivers in palliative and end of life settings
  • Psychological issues of loss grief and bereavement
  • Palliative and end of life care for people with non-malignant conditions
  • Pain in older people
  • Education and continuing professional development for health and social care practitioners


Dr Christine Valentine

Christine Valentine

Christine is a Teaching Fellow in the Department of Social and Policy Sciences.  She holds a PhD from the University of Bath, 'Bereavement and Identity: Making sense of Bereavement  in Contemporary British Society.'  She has also researched bereavement, identity and meaning-making in the Japanese context. The findings from these studies have been published in various articles, edited collections and the book ‘Bereavement Narratives: Continuing Bonds in the 21st Century’ (Routledge, 2008). Christine is a founder member of the Association for the Study of Death and Society (ASDS).

Research interests


Prof Tony Walter • Honorary Professor

Tony Walter

Tony is Honorary Professor of Death Studies at the University of Bath and past Director of CDAS.  He also works with the churches and Civil Ceremonies Ltd, training funeral celebrants.

Research interests

I joined the University of Bath in 2006. From 2011-15, I was director of the Centre for Death & Society, and on my retirement from university employment in Sept 2015 became Honorary Professor. Though I am not taking on any new PhD students, I remain active as a scholar, working with CDAS (e.g. organising seminars, media), giving presentations around the world and writing three books that bring together my past 25 years' work:

1.    An introduction to death and society that takes national differences seriously.
2.    A book on the roles of the dead in contemporary society.
3.    A short introduction to key challenges in death and dying today.

Download a video of Tony discussing his work »


Dr Kate Woodthorpe

Kate Woodthorpe

Kate joined CDAS in January 2010, where she acted as Programme Leader for the Foundation Degree in Funeral Services until 2012. Since completing her PhD in 2007, Kate has had articles and book chapters published on funeral costs, state support for funerals, mortuary practice, professional development, cemetery usage, the experience of researching in this area, and public dying. She is co-editor of the journal Mortality and in 2016 acted as a Special Adviser to the Government's Work and Pensions Select Committee Inquiry on Bereavement Benefits.

Research interests

  • Funeral costs and social inclusion
  • Professionalisation and the deathcare workforce
  • Memorialisation and grief behaviour

Kate is happy to supervise PhD students in related areas. Please contact her for an informal chat.


Visiting staff

John Birrell

John is a Visiting Research Fellow at the Centre for Death & Society and the Department of Social and Policy Studies. A former healthcare chaplain and NHS bereavement lead, he worked with Scottish Government for a number of years to develop a range of guidance on bereavement issues for NHS Scotland, and currently chairs the Scottish Working Group on Funeral Poverty. He chaired the Board of Cruse Bereavement Care Scotland for six years, and regularly writes and delivers training for them. He is a member of the International Work Group on Death Dying and bereavement.

John’s research interests are around the efficacy of bereavement care and the causes and consequences of funeral poverty. He is currently a member of the team exploring the relationship between cremation and grief one to two years following a death.

John has a private practice as a bereavement consultant and trainer, based in Perth, Scotland.


Dr Clare Gittings

Clare is a historian with an impressive track record over 20 years of publishing high quality research in the history of death and dying. She is foremost in her field as an early modern historian of death and dying, and provides an essential link with the museums sector.

She has worked with Tony Walter on a recent project looking at burial on private land which led to two publications, see past research for details. 

She is learning manager at the National Portrait Gallery in London where she runs the schools programme. 


Prof Malcolm Johnson

Malcolm Johnson

Malcolm is a Visiting Professor with the Department of Social & Policy Sciences and active member of CDAS. He was one of the founding members in 2005.

Malcolm's research and consultancy includes extensive work on the long term care of older people, theories of ageing and on assessment issues. Over the past fifteen years it has extended into end of life care and spirituality in later life.

Research interests

  • The social aspects of health and illness
  • Biographical studies
  • Social policy analysis
  • Death and dying
  • Ageing and the lifespan
  • Long term care of older people
  • Spirituality in later life

Lorna Templeton

Lorna has over 15 years experience of research in the fields of addiction and mental health. Her main area of interest and expertise is in the impact of alcohol and drug problems on children and families and she has been involved in national and international research in this area, including the ESRC project on bereavement following substance use.