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Last modified: 22 May 2019 17:07

Course Overview

This course explores the key existential questions in the modern world.  Through a series of theoretical approaches and case studies it examines the changes in individuals' understanding of sex, the meaning of life, and death.  The overarching theme of the course focuses on the changing attitudes and practices surrounding existential issues in light of an increasingly secularised social context.  As church involvement and knowledge of Christian beliefs have declined, people have little choice but to become increasingly inventive, which in turn affects the shape of the modern self.  The course addresses these individual and cultural shifts through a sociological framework.

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 4
Session First Sub Session Credit Points 30 credits (15 ECTS credits)
Campus Old Aberdeen Sustained Study No
  • Dr Marta Trzebiatowska

What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?

  • Programme Level 4
  • Either Sociology (SO) (Studied) or BSc Medical Science (Medical Humanities)
  • Any Undergraduate Programme (Studied)

What other courses must be taken with this course?


What courses cannot be taken with this course?


Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description

This course explores the key existential concerns - sex, death and the possibility of an afterlife - through a sociological lens.  In part one, we begin by examining the social and historical construction of human sexuality.  Key topics covered are the science of sex, sexualisation of modern societies, and pornography as the commodification of sex. Part two of the course deals with the questions of death, dying, burial and mourning practices, as well as representations of death in popular culture, from celebrities to vampires.  In part three we take a look at the changing images of life after death in modern societies.  We finish by briefly exploring the human quest for immortality through a variety of examples, ranging from ancient mythology to latest scientific discoveries.

In light of Covid-19 this information is indicative and may be subject to change.

Contact Teaching Time

Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.

Teaching Breakdown

  • 1 Lecture during University weeks 7 - 17
  • 1 Tutorial during University weeks 7 - 17

More Information about Week Numbers

In light of Covid-19 and the move to blended learning delivery the assessment information advertised for second half-session courses may be subject to change. All updates for second-half session courses will be actioned in advance of the second half-session teaching starting. Please check back regularly for updates.

Summative Assessments

1st Attempt: 1 three-hour examination (60%) and continuous assessment (40%); consisting of two 2,500 word essays.
Resit: 1 three-hour examination (100%)

Formative Assessment

Tutorial group presentations and one online quiz


Written feedback will be provided for continuous assessment work. This will normally be provided within three weeks of the submission date. Oral feedback will also be provided on tutorial facilitation where appropriate.

Course Learning Outcomes


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