Death and Dying

I.     Course Prefix/Number: SOC 210

       Course Name: Death and Dying

       Credits: 3 (3 lecture; 0 lab)

II.    Prerequisite


III.   Course (Catalog) Description

Course studies social and personal problems relating to the crisis of dying and the phenomenon of death.  Content includes medical ethics associated with aging; legal problems, euthanasia, social rituals and taboos of old age; family and personal dynamics associated with terminal illness; grieving process, personal clarification of feelings and attitudes about death and dying; suicide and nuclear war.

IV.   Learning Objectives

  1. To inform the student about legal, historical, and sociological issues concerning death and dying.
  2. To help the student deal with the affective issues surrounding the death of others and personal death.
  3. Consumer information on medical and funeral services.
  4. Socio-ethical issues centering on death and dying.

V.    Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton's Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:

• cheating,
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.

There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.

Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at

VI.   Sequence of Topics

  1. Society and Death
    1. Ethical Wills -- The Right to Die
    2. To Tell or Not to Tell -- The Doctor-Patient Relationship
    3. Hospital-Patient Relationship -- Legal but Caring?
    4. Religious Parameters to Dying
    5. Legal Definitions of Death; Withdrawal of Treatment Issues
    6. Social Context of Death in America
    7. The Hospice
  2. The Family and Its Reaction to Loss
    1. The Dying Person
    2. Helping the Dying Patient and the Family (including children)
    3. When the Dying Person is a Child
    4. Anticipatory Grief
    5. After the Death -- Changes in Family Interaction
      1. Grief Reactions
      2. Adjusting to the Loss
      3. Complications
    6. The Funeral -- Rituals, Consumer Awareness, Social Meaning
  3. Personal Responses to Grief
    1. What does it mean to me to die?  How do I cope?
    2. Suicide -- personal, family responses, social concerns
    3. Nuclear War and Death

VII.  Methods of Instruction

Lecture-discussion, videotapes, films, field trip, role-play.
Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

  1. Reading
  2. Writing: Students will be required to write for the class the equivalent of 12-15 typed pages of material that will be graded. This writing may take the form of a research or term paper, summaries of journal articles, and/or a series of shorter, analytical papers.
  3. Other

IX.   Instructional Materials

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton's Schedule of Classes.

Corr, Charles (2000). Death and Dying, Life and Living (3rd ed.). Stanford, CT: Wadsworth (International Thomson Publishing).

Despelder, Lynne Ann (2002). Last Dance: Encountering Death and Dying (6th ed.). Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing Co.

Kubler-Ross, Elisabeth (1997). On Death and Dying (4th ed.). NewYork, NY: Schribner.

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton’s Schedule of Classes.

X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

  1. Participation; in-class discussion
  2. Research Project
  3. Midterm and final exams

XI.   Other Course Information

If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.

Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.

Resources and support for
  • pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
  • victims of sexual misconduct
can be found at

Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at

Electronic video and/or audio recording is not permitted during class unless the student obtains written permission from the instructor. In cases where recordings are allowed, such content is restricted to personal use only. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited. Personal use is defined as use by an individual student for the purpose of studying or completing course assignments.

For students who have been approved for audio and/or video recording of lectures and other classroom activities as a reasonable accommodation by Oakton’s Access Disabilities Resource Center (ADRC), applicable federal law requires instructors to permit those recordings. Such recordings are also limited to personal use. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited.

Violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action through the Code of Student Conduct.