Department of Social & Policy Sciences

Hororary Professor Tony Walter

The world's only Professor of Death Studies

Tony Walter

Honorary Professor


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I was a freelance writer for many years, before becoming Lecturer, then Reader, in Sociology at the University of Reading 1994-2007.

In the mid-1980s, I wrote three books on unemployment and social security, but over the past twenty years I have focused on researching, writing and lecturing on death in modern society, e.g. funerals, afterlife beliefs, personal bereavement and public mourning, human remains in museums, new discourses of spirituality, death in the news media and in online social media.

I have helped promote the interdisciplinary study of death and society, and collaborated with colleagues in, for example, religious studies, history, archaeology, linguistics, psychology, social work, geography, computer science, medicine, and gerontology.

I also work with the churches and Civil Ceremonies Ltd to train funeral celebrants.

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 September 2015 became Honorary Professor. As well as giving presentations around the world and continuing to work with CDAS (e.g. media, organising seminars), I am now 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.

Research interests

  • Bereavement
  • Social relationships between the living and the dead
  • Informal social networks (online and offline) at the end of life



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