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Death, dying and bereavement

Studying death, dying and bereavement with The Open University

Death, studies has been one of the School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Carers major research and teaching themes for over twenty years. The work in this area ranges from dying through to death and bereavement in all age groups - before birth and at the end of a long life. End-of-life care is a key strand of research and teaching, and includes the underpinning philosophy, care planning and delivery;  and lived experiences at the end of life.  Ethical issues and the development of professional competencies are key aspects of this challenging area. Additional research topics include: cultural diversity in death, dying and bereavement; reproductive loss (abortion, miscarriage and stillbirth); advance care planning and capacity; and professionals who deal with deceased people such as hospital staff and undertakers. 

Qualifications available:

PhD or MPhil.  See also our Doctorate in Health and Social Care (DHSC)


For detailed information on current fees visit Fees and funding.

Entry requirements:

Minimum 2:1 (or equivalent) plus either a masters degree or research methods training at masters level (or equivalent)

Potential research projects

Sociological and anthropological approaches to:
  • Reproductive loss (to include abortion, miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death)
  • End-of-life care across the life course, from perinatal death to old age
  • Cultural diversity in death, dying and bereavement
  • Ethnographic work on death, dying and bereavement
  • Post mortem care
  • Bereavement care

Current/recent research projects

  • The role of the hospice volunteer
  • Recovery following bereavement
  • The sexuality, relationships and reproductive choices of young people with life-limited conditions
  • End-of-life care at Milton Keynes hospice

Further information

If you have an enquiry specific to this research area please contact:

Dr Lindsay O’Dell, Director of Postgraduate Studies

For general enquiries please contact the Research Degrees Team via the link under 'Your Questions' on the right of the page.