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Essential Objectives

Course Syllabus

Revision Date: 20-Jun-24

Fall 2024 | PSY-2130-VO01 - Death & Dying

Online Class

Online courses take place 100% online via Canvas, without required in-person or Zoom meetings.

Location: Online
Credits: 3 (45 hours)
Day/Times: Meets online
Semester Dates: 09-03-2024 to 12-16-2024
Last day to drop without a grade: 09-16-2024 - Refund Policy
Last day to withdraw (W grade): 11-04-2024 - Refund Policy
This section is waitlisted (0). Please contact your nearest center for availability.


Mary Ann Boyd
View Faculty Credentials

Hiring Coordinator for this course: Kate Hughes

General Education Requirements

This section meets the following CCV General Education Requirement(s) for the current catalog year:
VSCS Social Sciences
  1. Many degree programs have specific general education recommendations. In order to avoid taking unnecessary classes, please consult with additional resources like your program evaluation, your academic program catalog year page, and your academic advisor.
  2. Courses may only be used to meet one General Education Requirement.

Course Description

This course examines the nature of our society's attitudes toward death. Special attention is given to the ways in which society, families, medical, economic and religious institutions respond to death. Psychological aspects of impending death and the grieving process are emphasized.

Essential Objectives

1. Identify changes in society's present perspectives on death, dying, and life after death as represented by language, media, and the arts.
2. Compare and contrast the beliefs, rituals, and practices surrounding death expressed by a variety of cultures, religions, and periods in history.
3. Explore the various ways we learn about death and distinguish between how death and loss affects us across the lifespan.
4. Explain and demonstrate the coping patterns used in facing death, including the psychological stages of dealing with life-threatening illness as identified by Dr. K├╝bler-Ross.
5. Identify ways to recognize and intervene with a person who may be considering suicide and to help family and friends cope with this type of loss.
6. Describe the effects upon survivors and witnesses of environmental encounters with death such as accidents, violence, natural disasters, and war.
7. Analyze the ways in which the health care system helps and hinders patients and their families to be able to deal with death and the process of dying.
8. Describe legal and ethical conflicts surrounding death created by modern medicine and technology.
9. Discuss reports of near death experiences and how they have influenced ideas about life after death.
10. Explore and express their own personal thoughts and beliefs on dying a "good death" and the impact on life and living.

Required Technology

More information on general computer and internet recommendations is available on the CCV IT Support page. https://support.ccv.edu/general/computer-recommendations/

Please see CCV's Digital Equity Statement (pg. 45) to learn more about CCV's commitment to supporting all students access the technology they need to successfully finish their courses.

Required Textbooks and Resources

*** This is a low cost ($50 or less) textbook or resource class. ***

PSY-2130-VO01 Link to Textbooks/Resources Information for this course in eCampus.

The last day to use a Financial Aid Advance to purchase textbooks/books is the 3rd Tuesday of the semester. See your financial aid counselor at your academic center if you have any questions.



My name is Mary Ann Boyd, LICSW, and I will be your instructor this semester for "Death and Dying": PSY-2131-VO01.

I'd like to start by saying that I truly love teaching this course, and I am confident in saying it will be quite a journey for most of you. No matter if you are a student enrolled in the Funeral Director program, in any of the helping majors/professions...or just curious about this course, I truly believe you will be happy to be part of the journey.

Frankly, death is a topic which is not discussed in our society...in fact, it is almost considered "taboo" or "morbid" to do so. We avoid the topic, we brush over it, we make up words for it like "gone away", "sleeping", "past away" or "gone to a better place", however illness, grief, death, loss are all part of the experience of living.

Please look at some of the topics we will be exploring together by reviewing the syllabus and the course itself. Without a doubt, you WILL find some of the topics as being quite serious, and yes, even sad...however, as odd as it may sound, we have a great deal of fun here as well. In fact, many of my students have found this course to be quite liberating, validating, and perspective changing... finally having the opportunity to face, discuss, and exchange ideas, the human aspects of death and dying.

There will be two required textbooks', both in paperback and quite inexpensive. In fact, used books can be obtained for less than $10 each.

-Final Journeys, Maggie Callahan,
-On Grief and Grieving, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, M.D.

In addition to the texts, I have embedded a number of short articles, Ted talks, interviews and audio presentations. You will find that you are never stuck reading, reading, and more reading, as I purposely vary the course resources quite a bit.

As you know, this entire course will take place online, and though we will never be in the same place at the same time...we WILL truly get to know each other as we learn about one of the most sensitive topics together...that which entails many of the topics and concepts related to the end of life.

So...here we go!

Teaching Methods:

A weekly discussion forum assignment related to textbook content and/or other course resources which will require the submission of an original post, as well as three responses to classmates' posts.

*Weekly lectures, reading assignments as well various videos and other postings related to the weekly topic.

*Short Essays

*5 Study Guide assignments related to course content.

*A final Oral Presentation on a topic of interest.

*Final Exam derived from Study Guide material.

Evaluation Criteria

Your work will be graded on the following components, all of which you will find more detail within the rubrics for each category of assignments:

*Quality of Information
*Quality of Effort
*Writing Mechanics

The total grading system for each assignment category will be weighted as follows:

*Discussions forums: 20%, AND I take your original post, as well as your replies to others into consideration.
*Study Guides: 25%
*Essays/Journals: 25%
*Final Exam: 15%
*Final Presentation: 15%

Grading Criteria

CCV Letter Grades as outlined in the Evaluation System Policy are assigned according to the following chart:

A Less than 9893
A-Less than 9390
B+Less than 9088
B Less than 8883
B-Less than 8380
C+Less than 8078
C Less than 7873
C-Less than 7370
D+Less than 7068
D Less than 6863
D-Less than 6360
FLess than 60 
NPLess than 600

Weekly Schedule

Week/ModuleTopic  Readings  Assignments


Week 1: Hello and Welcome!

- Introduction to the course and one-another

- Overview of Course


Discussion Forum



Mental Health Aspects of Grief through various losses.


Discussion Forum
Short Introductory Presentation
Study Guide 1



Cross Cultural Aspects of Grieving and Death





Cross Cultural Aspects of Death (continued) and the History of Death Practices.


Study Guide 2
Cultural Competency Essay



How we learn about Death as Children.


Study Guide 3








Terminal Illness and the experience of approaching death...for the dying and survivors.


Study Guide 4



Terminal Illness and Aproaching Death


The Bucket List Essay



Health Care Systems, Medical Ethics, Dying in a Technological Age.





Health Care Systems, Medical Ethics, Dying in a Technological Age (continued)


Study Guide 5



Traditional Funerals, Burials and Cremation





Alternatives to the Traditional Practices.





Final Exams!


Final Exam



Final Oral Presentations





Our last week...Humor, Art and Goodbyes!




Attendance Policy

Regular attendance and participation in classes are essential for success in and are completion requirements for courses at CCV. A student's failure to meet attendance requirements as specified in course descriptions will normally result in a non-satisfactory grade.

  • In general, missing more than 20% of a course due to absences, lateness or early departures may jeopardize a student's ability to earn a satisfactory final grade.
  • Attending an on-ground or synchronous course means a student appeared in the live classroom for at least a meaningful portion of a given class meeting. Attending an online course means a student posted a discussion forum response, completed a quiz or attempted some other academically required activity. Simply viewing a course item or module does not count as attendance.
  • Meeting the minimum attendance requirement for a course does not mean a student has satisfied the academic requirements for participation, which require students to go above and beyond simply attending a portion of the class. Faculty members will individually determine what constitutes participation in each course they teach and explain in their course descriptions how participation factors into a student's final grade.

Missing & Late Work Policy

If you have fallen behind, please inform me of this as soon as you can, and if it is due to an extenuating circumstance, we can determine a plan for a late submission... with a deduction of at least 10 points. If you do not provide prior notice pertaining to this, or if it becomes habitual, I will not accept your late submission. Though I am quite fair, I do have expectations that we are ALL on the same timeframe from week to week.

Accessibility Services for Students with Disabilities:

CCV strives to mitigate barriers to course access for students with documented disabilities. To request accommodations, please
  1. Provide disability documentation to the Accessibility Coordinator at your academic center. https://ccv.edu/discover-resources/students-with-disabilities/
  2. Request an appointment to meet with accessibility coordinator to discuss your request and create an accommodation plan.
  3. Once created, students will share the accommodation plan with faculty. Please note, faculty cannot make disability accommodations outside of this process.

Academic Integrity

CCV has a commitment to honesty and excellence in academic work and expects the same from all students. Academic dishonesty, or cheating, can occur whenever you present -as your own work- something that you did not do. You can also be guilty of cheating if you help someone else cheat. Being unaware of what constitutes academic dishonesty (such as knowing what plagiarism is) does not absolve a student of the responsibility to be honest in his/her academic work. Academic dishonesty is taken very seriously and may lead to dismissal from the College.