Death, Killing and Conflict


This module looks at changing attitudes to death, dying and killing. It examines the connections between power and the right to take or preserve life, how death and killing are represented and legitimated in various contexts.


The aim of this Module is to provide the student with : an opportunity to explore the social, cultural, moral and ethical issues around death and dying in contemporary society, and specifically in relation to war and conflict.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module the student should be able to:

1.  Critically examine a range of theoretical approaches to killing and dying.

2.  Provide an analytical account of the relationship between power, inequalities and death.

3.  Demonstrate an awareness of the ways in which killing is represented and legitimated in different contexts.

4.  Show understanding of the processes which underpin changes in the social and cultural practices and attitudes related to killing and dying

5.  Critically analyse the political nature of discourses and practices around killing.

6.  Critically examine the concept of state crime in relation to various forms or sites of killing.

Indicative Content

1 The death-denial thesis

Changing ideas of death and dying from pre-modernity to postmodernity Death denial and ambivalence The sequestration of death The 'revival' of death

2 Social, political and legal constructions of death

State crime and deviance, militarism

3 Death and representation

Conflict, commemoration and public memorialising; Death and popular culture, representations of war and death in news

4 Death and power

The social mechanisms of oppression, consent and legitimation that determine when, how and why people kill and die; Terror Genocide

5 Bioethics and politics

The sanctity of life versus the quality of life; The politics of 'ethical' decisions about life and death; Capital punishment

Statement on Teaching, Learning and Assessment

The module is taught through lectures, tutorials and workshops. It is a challenging module with content that will promote the intellectual development of the students in accordance with the Abertay Graduate Attributes. The learning outcomes are specifically designed to foster individuals to master their subject, understand how it is evolving and how it interacts with other subjects; and to critically evaluate information. It will also require students to be responsive and responsible in personal, cultural and social contexts and to develop their potential as active citizens by examining ethical issues and reflecting on their own values and beliefs about a potentially sensitive subject.

Teaching and Learning Work Loads

Total 200
Lecture 24
Tutorial/Seminar 12
Supervised Practical Activity 0
Unsupervised Practical Activity 0
Assessment 32
Independent 132

Guidance notes

Credit Value – The total value of SCQF credits for the module. 20 credits are the equivalent of 10 ECTS credits. A full-time student should normally register for 60 SCQF credits per semester.


We make every effort to ensure that the information on our website is accurate but it is possible that some changes may occur prior to the academic year of entry. The modules listed in this catalogue are offered subject to availability during academic year 2019/10 , and may be subject to change for future years.