Online Microcredential in Healthcare & Medicine

End of Life Challenges and Palliative Care

Explore critical perspectives on dying, death, and grief to develop your professional practice or reflect on personal experience.

Created by

The University of GlasgowThe University of Glasgow

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In collaboration with

Royal College of Physicians of EdinburghRoyal College of Physicians of Edinburgh

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Take an interdisciplinary approach to palliative care and end of life issues

Around the world, there is growing interest in palliative care, end of life issues, and the cultural values that surround dying, death, and bereavement. Meanwhile, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become obvious how necessary end of life skills are for all health and social care providers.

On this ten-week microcredential from the University of Glasgow, you’ll be introduced to new critical perspectives from within the social sciences, humanities, and clinical disciplines. Taking an interdisciplinary approach that encourages new ways of thinking, you’ll gain the tools to reflect on your own professional and personal encounters with dying, death, and grief.

Understand historical and cultural expectations of ageing and dying

The way we view death is bound up with its presentation throughout history and in each culture and religion. That means that death is as much a social and cultural as a biological phenomenon.

You’ll start the microcredential by exploring the social construction of death, and different historical and cultural expectations around ageing and dying. You’ll learn how cultural attitudes towards dying and old age influenced policy and clinical responses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Examine the difficulties of diagnosing dying

Diagnosing dying is not as easy as you might think. You’ll look at difficulties surrounding diagnosis in social and clinical settings, and the implications of these for initiating end of life conversations and planning for death.

You’ll also discuss frailty, dementia and end of life care, examining what the current healthcare system can offer in terms of treatment and understanding.

Investigate evolving approaches to palliative care, assisted dying, and grief

The overarching focus of this microcredential is on how people and healthcare systems are responding to the challenge of delivering end of life care in an ageing world, with a growing global population.

You’ll investigate how end of life practices are evolving, comparing approaches in different countries around the world. You’ll also explore theories of pain, the development of palliative care, and the thorny area of assisted dying.

Last but not lest, the tenth week of the programme will look at bereavement care and its connections to palliative care delivery. You’ll examine shifts in the psychology of grief over the last century, and discuss cultural variation in how grief is expressed and understood.

Gain essential skills from health and social care professionals

End of Life Challenges and Palliative Care is led by the University of Glasgow’s End of Life Studies Group, a research and teaching team dedicated to examining end of life issues. This course is supported and approved by the Royal College of Physicians Edinburgh (RCPE), and learners who are members of the RCPE will earn 50 CPD Credits upon completion of this microcredential.

By the end of the 10-week programme, you’ll have deepened your own thinking on a range of end of life issues, while gaining the training and credentials you need to work in palliative care.

How will this microcredential help to develop my career?

“Managing end of life and applying palliative care skills” has been recognised as a vital skill for postgraduate medical training. This means there is an increased demand for clinicians in the UK and abroad to gain additional skills in this area.

You’ll gain in-depth knowledge and demonstrable expertise in an increasingly crucial medical and social field. You’ll also enhance your communication skills and your ability to discuss the complex ethical issues around dying, death, and bereavement. Finally, you’ll be better able to think critically about how the dying are treated socially and clinically, and the importance of meaning-making at the end of life.

These crucial critical thinking and communication skills will help to inform your clinical practice and heighten your understanding of global inequalities relating to the relief of suffering at the end of life.

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed through two separate assignments: a 1,500-word reflective report and a PechaKucha presentation.

In the 1500-word reflective report, you will draw on course materials and on your professional and/or personal experience to critically reflect on and connect ideas presented in the course. This will be worth 60% of the grade.

A PechaKucha is a presentation application involving slides and audio commentary on each slide. Learners will create a short and visually appealing presentation to elaborate on aspects of their written reflective report. This will be worth 40% of the grade.

What will I receive after completing this microcredential?

Upon successful completion of this microcredential, you’ll receive 10 postgraduate level academic credits and a HEAR (Higher Education Achievement Record) from the University of Glasgow. Members of the Royal College of Physicians Edinburgh (RCPE) will receive 50 CPD credits upon completion.

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What skills will you learn?

  • Communication
  • Empathy
  • Critical assessment
  • Critical evaluation
  • Cultural awareness
  • Social awareness
  • Sensitivity

What you will achieve

By the end of the microcredential, you’ll be able to...

  • Explain the ways in which dying can be regarded as a social process as much as a biological event
  • Explain the global spread of palliative care and articulate its core concerns and challenges
  • Identify new and emerging responses to contemporary dying, death, and bereavement
  • Reflect critically on and apply an interdisciplinary perspective to the student’s professional practice or personal experience

Are you eligible for this microcredential?

To enrol in this microcredential, you should be educated to undergraduate degree level or have equivalent professional and/or industry experience. Non-native English speakers will need an IELTS score of 6.5 or equivalent.

Is this microcredential right for you?

This course is designed for anyone working in or around health and social care, including physicians, nurses, social workers, and other allied professionals. It will also be of interest to practitioners, students, researchers, volunteers, and policymakers in end-of-life care.


What happens before, during, and after your microcredential

  • Before learning

    You’ll have access to our online welcome area where you’ll be able to start conversations with learners.

  • Course

    From 15 Apr 2024

    End of Life Challenges and Palliative Care

    This course addresses the need for additional skills in postgraduate training surrounding palliative and end of life care.

    10 weeks

    10 hours per week

    • Week 1

      Introducing Your Micro-Credential
      • Welcome
      • Accessing Glasgow University Resources
      • Course information
      • Learner Introductions
      • The Social Construction of Dying
      • Good and Bad Dying
    • Week 2

      Ageing and Dying: Part 1
      • Historical Conceptions
      • Social Death
      • Exploring Stories of Ageing and Dying
      • LIVE Seminar
    • Week 3

      Ageing and Dying: Part 2
      • Frailty
      • Dementia
      • Covid-19 and Long-Term Care Facilities
    • Week 4

      Pain and Suffering at End of Life
      • Pain vs. Suffering
      • Suffering at the End of Life
      • Historical and Contemporary Approaches to Treating Pain at the End of Life
      • LIVE seminar
    • Week 5

      The Historical Development and Global Spread of Palliative Care
      • Global Mapping/Ranking Exercises
      • Global Inequities
      • Hospitals as Central to End of Life Care in the Global North
    • Week 6

      The Lancet Commission on the Value of Death and Public Health Approaches
      • Public Health Models
      • Lancet Commission Report on the Value of Death
      • Compassionate Communities
    • Week 7

      Assisted Dying - Part 1
      • Cultural Changes
      • Autonomy, Dignity & Burden
      • Individual Motivations
      • LIVE Seminar
    • Week 8

      Assisted Dying - Part 2
      • Implementation Challenges
      • Terminal/Palliative Sedation
      • Professional Responses
    • Week 9

      • Theories of Grief
      • Disenfranchised/Anticipatory/Complicated Grief
      • Grief Writing
      • LIVE Seminar
    • Week 10

      • The Social Nature of Dying
  • After learning

    Once you’ve successfully completed the microcredential, you’ll receive a HEAR (Higher Education Achievement Record) from the University of Glasgow. You’ll have ongoing, unlimited access to the course materials.

What you will receive

10 at Postgraduate level from The University of Glasgow

Find out how credits work and where you can use them in our FAQs.

What is a microcredential?

Microcredentials are designed to upskill you for work in rapidly-growing industries, without the time and cost commitment of a full degree. Your microcredential can stand alone as an independent credential, and some also offer academic credit to use towards a degree.

Learn online with expert instructors

Complete online courses led by experts over multiple weeks with a dedicated group of professionals.

Complete project-based assessments

Test your understanding with online tutor-marked assessments and exercises.

Earn a professional credential

Finish your learning and pass your assessments to gain an accredited credential.

Advance further in your career

Use your microcredential as evidence of your specialised skills and progress further in your industry.

Career-focused learning by The University of Glasgow

Founded in 1451, the University of Glasgow is the fourth oldest university in the English-speaking world. It is a member of the prestigious Russell Group of leading UK research universities.

  • Established

  • Location

    Glasgow, Scotland, UK
  • World ranking

    Top 70Source: QS World University Rankings 2020

This microcredential is in collaboration with Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh

Delivered by experts

I am Senior Lecturer in Social Science and Director of the Glasgow End of Life Studies Group. I am a social and visual anthropologist and specialise in cultural aspects of ageing and dying.

I am the Lead for the End of Life Studies MSc/PGDip/PGCert Program at the University of Glasgow. I am a medical anthropologist who is interested in interdisciplinary research on the end of life.

Learning on FutureLearn

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  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

Want to know more about learning on FutureLearn? Using FutureLearn

What are our learners saying?

My interest in palliative and end of life care have been deepened

"My interest in palliative and end of life care have been deepened through doing this course. It's been an eye-opener for me. "

This course changed how I manage my patients.

"This course has certainly changed how I have managed my patients recently and I’ve found myself talking about what I’ve learnt to friends and colleagues. Live seminars had brilliant discussions too."

When would you like to start?

Enrolment for this microcredential is closed. We aim to run our microcredentials every few months. Register to find out more about this microcredential and future start dates.

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We can accept payments made by card (Visa, Mastercard and American Express) or PayPal via our online system.

You will have 14 days from the day the course starts to apply for a refund. If this Microcredential has any non-refundable costs they will be stated in the ‘Overview’ section above. You can find more information in our cancellation and refund policy.

Microcredentials are designed to fit around your life and timezone.

There may be live events as part of your studies, but these will be recorded and can be watched afterwards if you aren’t online for the live broadcast.

No, microcredentials are designed to be taken anywhere in the world. You won’t need the right to study in the country where the university offering the microcredential is based.

Want to know more? Read the microcredential FAQs, or contact us.