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Personal profile

Research interests

I was a freelance scholar from 1975 - 1994, writing books on the treatment of young offenders, religion and society, landscape, unemployment, social security, basic income, and the concept of need.

On re-entering academia in 1994, I worked as Lecturer, then Reader, in Sociology at the University of Reading. Since 2006, I have been Professor of Death Studies at the University of Bath, including four years (2011-15) as director of the Centre for Death & Society www.bath.ac.uk/cdas. At both universities I set up and directed a Masters course in Death & Society.

Since the early 1990s, my writing and lecturing have focussed on developing a sociological understanding of death in modern society. In this, I have collaborated with colleagues in religious studies, history, archaeology, linguistics, psychology, geography, computer science, medicine, social work, and gerontology. Research areas have included: 

  • funerals
  • pilgrimage
  • afterlife beliefs
  • personal bereavement and public mourning
  • the portrayal of death in the news media
  • collective memory
  • human remains in museums
  • end of life care and neo-liberalism
  • discourses of spirituality
  • social networks at the end of life
  • mediations between the living and the dead
  • how the internet shapes dying and grieving.
  • the role of angels in mourning
  • space and place

My most recent books are:

- What Death Means Now (Polity Press, 2017). This short-form book discusses contemporary issues in death, dying, funerals and bereavement.    https://policy.bristoluniversitypress.co.uk/what-death-means-now

- Death in the Modern World (Sage, 2020). This global book focusses on national, cultural and environmental variations in how death is managed in the modern world.    https://uk.sagepub.com/en-gb/eur/death-in-the-modern-world/book255329

I have also helped Civil Ceremonies Ltd http://www.civilceremonies.co.uk/  and the Church of England to provide funeral training for celebrants and clergy.

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Research Output

Death in the Modern World

Walter, T., 2020, London: Sage Publications. 299 p.

Research output: Book/ReportBook

End of life care: A scoping review of experiences of Advance Care Planning for people with dementia.

Jones, K., Birchley, G., Huxtable, R., Clare, L., Walter, J. & Dixon, J., 1 Apr 2019, In : Dementia: the international journal of social research and practice. 18, 3, p. 825-845 21 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
  • 11 Citations (Scopus)
    135 Downloads (Pure)

    Grief, funeral fees and coffin calendar girls: life in death studies

    Troyer, J., Valentine, C., Walter, T. & Woodthorpe, K., 2019, The Times Higher Education.

    Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

    The Pervasive Dead

    Walter, J., 2019, In : Mortality. 24, 4, p. 389-404 16 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
  • 2 Citations (Scopus)

    Voices and Silences of the Dead in Western Modernity

    Walter, T., 2019, Articulate Necrographies. Panagiotopoulos, A. & Santo, D. E. (eds.). New York: Berghahn Books, p. 17-39

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    Understanding and responding to adults bereaved following a drug or alcohol-related death

    Walter, T. (Creator), Valentine, C. (Creator), Templeton, L. (Other), McKell, J. (Other), Ford, A. (Other), Velleman, R. (Other), Hay, G. (Other) & Bauld, L. (Other), UK Data Service, 9 Dec 2015



    British churches, participation and community development

    Author: Scofield, J., 1 May 2011

    Supervisor: Walter, J. (Supervisor), Room, G. (Supervisor) & Devine, J. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


    Feasting with Death: A Study of Funeral-Food Practices

    Author: Graham, J., 16 Oct 2017

    Supervisor: Troyer, J. (Supervisor) & Walter, J. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


    Going to Funerals in Contemporary Britain: The Individual, the Family and the Meeting with Death

    Author: Bailey, T., 31 Dec 2013

    Supervisor: Walter, J. (Supervisor) & Tuckwell, K. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


    The Grief of Nations: An analysis of how nations behave in the wake of loss: does it constitute grief?

    Author: Malamah-Thomas, A., 1 Jul 2011

    Supervisor: Walter, J. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


    The management of historic cemeteries by friends groups: Local narratives and the sense of place

    Author: Jolly, G., 21 Feb 2014

    Supervisor: Forsyth, M. (Supervisor) & Walter, J. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisMPhil