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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Learn with the End of Life Studies Group at the University of Glasgow

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

How we understand dying and death is bound up with its presentation throughout history and within each culture and religion. In other words, death is as much a social and cultural process as it is a biological event.

You’ll start the course by exploring the social construction of death, and historical and cultural expectations around ageing and dying. You’ll discover 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 why this is not easily done in social and clinical settings, and consider the implications for initiating end of life conversations and planning for death.

You’ll also discuss frailty, dementia and end of life care, seeing 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 how people and healthcare systems are responding to the challenge of delivering end of life care in an ageing world, and with a growing global population.

You’ll investigate how end of life practices are evolving, comparing approaches in different countries around the world. Next, you’ll find out about the historical development of pain theories and about the biopsychosocial theory of pain. With this knowledge, you’ll explore the origins and development of palliative care around the world and also reflect on whether or not palliative care can be considered a human right.

Moving forward, you’ll delve into the thorny area of assisted dying. You’ll examine why people ask for help to die, and how assisted dying is being implemented around the world. You’ll also explore the relationship between assisted dying and palliative care.

Finally, you’ll explore bereavement care, which is tied to palliative care delivery. Understanding of the social psychology of grief has changed across the decades. You’ll explore this shifting terrain, finding out about ‘complicated grief’ and ‘disenfranchised grief’, as well as considering cross-cultural variation in how grief is expressed and understood.

Gain essential skills with professionals in the industry

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 course, 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. With this, there is an increased demand for clinicians within the United Kingdom and abroad to gain additional skills in this area. In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, these skills have never been more essential.

While the demand for training like this microcredential particularly concerns postgraduate doctors in training, the cross-speciality nature of dying in healthcare means the course will also be valuable for other healthcare professionals, including nurses, physician associates, SAS doctors, consultants, and other allied health professionals.

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 critical-thinking skills have the potential to inform your clinical practice as well as heighten your understanding of global inequalities in relation 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. Support will be available on how to develop and record a PechaKucha presentation.

What will I receive after completing this microcredential?

After you have submitted both parts of your assessments and they have been marked, you will receive a grade for your assessment.

Once you’ve successfully completed the 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 18 Sep 2023

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

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