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 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 is acting 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.

Support staff

Caron Staley

Caron Staley

Caron joined the Centre for Death & Society in 2006. She manages all events, seminars and conferences organised by CDAS and is the first is the point of contact for all media enquires. She manages the website and public engagement aspects of the Centre's work and oversees the various networks of academics and practitioners in the fields of death and dying studies around the world.

Caron works with CDAS members to develop research proposal submissions, particularly financial and dissemination information, and is involved with a number of current research projects as a member of the project team.

Caron manages a small team of research support administrators who offer a range of services to academics and researchers within the Department of Social & Policy Sciences, and is a member of the Impact Strategy Group for the Department of Social & Policy Sciences, and the Public Engagement Forum at the University of Bath.

Visiting staff

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

Dr Una MacConville

Una MacConville

Una MacConville, PhD, is a sociologist and Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Death & Society, Department of Social and Policy Sciences.

Una is currently invoved in developing resources and training for interpreters working with palliative care services in Ireland and for palliative care professionals working with interpreters - funded under the Irish Hospice Foundation Development Grant Scheme.

Una has also conducted research on deathbed experiences, including deathbed visions, in Irish palliative care, funded by the Irish Hospice Foundation and St Francis Hospice, and is also involved in a range of research and teaching activity.

Research interests

  • Palliative care
  • Religion and spirituality
  • Roadside memorials
  • After-life communication
  • End of life care needs for people with dementia
  • Cultural aspects of death, dying and bereavement

Dr Wendy Moncur

Wendy Moncur is an EPSRC Post-Doctoral Cross-Disciplinary Research Fellow and Lecturer  in the School of Computing at the University of Dundee in Scotland. She was appointed Visiting Fellow in the Department for Social & Policy Sciences at the University of Bath in 2012.

Research Interests 

  • Interdisciplinary research
  • Design of technology to support people throughout the lifespan and beyond
  • Ethical considerations and methodologies for working in sensitive contexts
  • Socio-technical systems