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Subject area:    Thanatology  Bachelor (in related fields), Master, Doctorate   

                                            (keywords: bereavement and loss, death and dying, palliative care, hospice care, grief counselling, grief counseling, counselling the dying,
                                            spirituality, afterlife, consciousness)    


Awarding body:             Calamus International University.  For further details of CIU please see the about page.


Status of course:           The degrees are non-UK qualifications. For status of CIU please see the status page.  CIU is accredited by the International Association for Distance Learning.  


Entry requirements:      Bachelor - by accelerated entry - approx. 50% credit from previous studies and/or experience needed for entry.

                                    Master -  a suitable bachelor's degree is normally required.
                                    Doctorate -  a Bachelor's degree (and preferably a Master's) are normally required.


Method of study:            Distance learning (taught course units are textbook-based) Textbooks are not included in tuition fees. 


Start date:                        Any time of year (subject to availability)


Duration:                         The standard period of registration for an accelerated (advanced-entry) Bachelor's degree, a Master's degree or a Doctorate is a maximum of 18 months, after which registration lapses unless continuing registration fees are paid.  This plan ensures that students can (a) complete as soon as academic requirements are fulfilled and (b) do not have to pay for long compulsory registration periods of several years before the final requirements can be met.  In some cases, where the student needs to meet additional requirements, the agreed initial registration period will be up to 24 months.




This brochure should be read together with the Calamus general prospectus (catalogue) and Course Unit List.  Calamus International University degrees are not UK degrees and do not have government accreditation.  


Thanatology - the interdisciplinary study of death and dying

Thanatology is the multidisciplinary study of death, dying and bereavement.

BA degree

There is no BA major in Thanatology.  However this field overlaps with certain other fields in which thanatology topics can play a part, e.g. Psychology, Counselling Psychology, Personal Development, Contemporary Spirituality, Religious Studies, Metaphysics, Hypnotherapy, etc.  BA degees are available in those fields. 

MA degree

We offer a programme of study leading to the Calamus International University distance learning MA in Thanatology. (This is not a UK degree).  A Bachelor’s degree or equivalent is normally required for entry, but other acceptable  qualifications may be considered (e.g. Counsellor/Psychotherapist, Nurse, Social Worker, or other professional qualification).

The normal entry requirement for the MA is an acceptable Bachelor’s degree in any field plus demonstrable interest and/or experience in a relevant applied field. However, exceptional applicants without a degree may enter the MA directly - they should have a previous professional qualification such as teaching certificate, complementary medicine qualification, counselling or psychotherapy qualification, nursing or social work diploma, ordination as a minister of religion, etc.  If necessary, an entrance examination may be set to determine whether the candidate can cope with the course. A fee may be charged for such an examination.

The MA can be earned by taking 45 credits (equivalent to 15 x 3-credit units) which can comprise entirely taught courses or 12 x 3-credit units plus a written project worth 9 credits.

The syllabus for the MA Thanatology is negotiated individually according to the student’s interests and prior relevant education/experience. 

Topics for the MA in Thanatology can include:

  • Death and Bereavement (including relevant studies in comparative religion)

  • Counselling skills

  • Bereavement counselling (various units will be available)

  • Transpersonal psychology

  • Regression and reincarnation studies (a large number of units is available covering many aspects of this topic)

  • Spirit Releasement and Depossession

  • Shamanic Soul Retrieval

  • Contemporary and historical Spiritualist studies

  • The Near-Death Experience

  • Relevant areas of parapsychology

  • Interpretation of Patients’ Drawings

  • Hypnotherapy and guided imagery for children

  • Research suggesting life after death

  • Jewish attitudes to life after death

  • Exploring afterlife knowledge through astral projection and related techniques of consciousness expansion

  • Eye Movement Therapies and After-Death Communication

Electives may also be taken from course unit listings in contemporary spirituality, counselling skills and other topics.  If you require a specialist area of study not listed we can consider making it available as a unit, and will be pleased to receive recommendations of textbooks.  If you have specialist knowledge through experience or private study it is possible to gain credit for that knowledge through doing “challenge essays”.  Altogether these options provide the opportunity for a highly personalised programme of study.

As well as providing a broad base of theoretical knowledge, the course aims to allow the student to build up a personal eclectic model of the survival of consciousness after death and to integrate that model with the student’s own philosophy and practice.

The distance learning degree comprises academic study and does not in itself include fieldwork of any kind. However credit can be given for ongoing relevant work during the period of enrolment, such as hospice work or counselling those with terminal illness. The degree may be taken for personal interest, as a way of gaining intellectual knowledge to supplement professional training or practice, or as a way of learning more about the subject before deciding whether to commit yourself to a suitable internship.

Alternative degree majors you may be interested in:

  • Parapsychology

  • Contemporary Spirituality

  • Transpersonal Psychology

Advanced Diploma in Bereavement Counselling and Thanatology

This diploma is available by correspondence from UK College of Holistic Training – see   It uses (under licence) units that are part of the Calamus range.  The Advanced Diploma is for:
People who do not need the Calamus International University (non-UK) MA or are seeking a cheaper alternative.
People who want to do a Diploma course first before proceeding to the MA.

Credit will be given for Advanced Diploma graduates towards the Calamus MA.  However, the MA fees will remain the same, so going direct for the MA is a cheaper option overall if you are aiming for an M.A. degree. 

Joint MA/Diploma Programme

If you enrol on the Calamus International University MA,  you will be able to gain the Advanced Diploma from UK College of Holistic Training at a special fee as soon as you complete 6 units. The Diploma fee will need to be paid separately and will be invoiced by UK College of Holistic Training.

Ph.D. degree

A PhD, awarded by Calamus International University, mainly through research and dissertation is available; however this degree demands sound academic writing and research skills and those without such skills may be asked to take a special course.  If you are a published author in a relevant field, it could be possible to use ongoing research for your next project as the basis of a Ph.D, subject to approval. The Ph.D. will need taught courses to be completed in addition to the dissertation if appropriate postgraduate transfer credit is not available. 

Psy.D. (Doctor of Psychology) degree

The Psy.D. with concentration in Thanatology may be taken along the same lines as an M.A. except that 60 credits are required including a thesis, or 70 credits without a thesis. Students with relevant M.A. degrees and/or professional qualifications in relevant disciplines plus any Master's degree may proceed directly to a Psy.D. programme.


Credit requirements


Bachelor -  120 credits including transfer credits.

Master -  45 credits including any transfer credits if the degree includes a thesis, or 48 credits without a thesis.

Doctorate (taught or research) - minimum 60 credits including any transfer credits if the degree includes a dissertation, or 70 credits without a dissertation.  The Ph.D. must include a dissertation.  A research doctorate will normally incorporate postgraduate transfer credits or credits from professional trainings.  If insufficient transfer credit is available then some CIU taught course modules may need to be taken in addition to the research programme and dissertation.    


One credit is nominally equivalent to one semester hour as in the typical American degree programme. The average course unit taken with CIU has a value of 3 credits or 3 semester hours.



Further advice


This brochure cannot cover everything, and further advice is available on enquiry. For best advice, please send us a copy of your curriculum vitae or resume with details of all relevant trainings you have done.

To see our prospectus and course unit list, and also to download an application form, please go to our downloads page

To see our tuition fees on-line please go to our tuition fees page

Calamus International University which awards the degrees is not a UK or US university - for status details click here.

If you have any queries please contact us, preferably by email on

Page updated 22 April 2011

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