University of Chester

Programme Specification
Mortuary Science BSc (Hons) (Level 6 only)
2016 - 2017

Bachelor of Science (Level 6 only)

Mortuary Science

Mortuary Science

University of Chester

University of Chester

University of Chester

On-line learning

Undergraduate Modular Programme


Work-Based inc.(practice / placement)

2 years

3 Years

Annual - September




17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Medicine, Dentistry and Life Sciences Biological Sciences

QAA Biosciences 2007

QAA Biomedical Sciences 2007

Not applicable

Department of Biological Sciences

Friday 1st May 2009

The aims of this programme are to:

  • facilitate a widening of access to higher education within the local community and beyond through flexibility in admissions procedures and learning and teaching methods;
  • offer an undergraduate award promoting academic, vocational and personal development;
  • provide a coherent and challenging learning experience for students who have an interest in mortuary science;
  • provide students with the knowledge, understanding and skills required by employers, using teaching, learning and assessment strategies that develop professional experience concurrent with academic development;
  • provide a high quality academic and work-related programme of study in Mortuary Science that remains relevant, valid and responsive to the needs of employers and students, by maintaining and expanding effective partnerships with students, employers, professional bodies and sector skills councils;
  • offer attractive and flexible learning opportunities to students;
  • encourage a critically and theoretically infromed and reflective approach to academic study and professional practice;
  • foster a critical appreciation of the role and value of research and of a scientific approach to study;
  • increase self awareness and insight into both professional and ethical issues relevant to mortuary science;
  • provide students with the academic skills and confidence to engage in further learning throughout their lives. 

Have detailed knowledge and critical understanding of relevant scientific principles, investigative techniques and research methods as applied to mortuary science.

Have knowledge and understanding of the ethical, legal, health and safety issues related to embalming and mortuary practice.

Have knowledge of the main methods of enquiry into the applied sciences and the ability to critically evaluate the appropriateness of different approaches to solving problems in mortuary work contexts.

Be able to analyse, synthesise, evaluate, apply and reflect upon information gathered from the academic literature, professional organisations, and experiences in the work place, in order to propose solutions to problems in mortuary contexts

Be able to deploy academic and practical techniques for the integration of academic knowledge and understanding into effective professional practice in contexts.

Have understanding of the limits of own knowledge, and how this influences analysis and interpretations based on that knowledge.

Have skills of self-evaluation to understand own strengths and weaknesses, challenge received opinion, and develop own criteria and judgement.

Have key / transferable skills and confidence to undertake further training, develop existing skills, and acquire new competencies that will enable assumption of significant responsibility within relevant organisations.

Be able to effectively communicate information, arguments, and analysis in a variety of forms to specialist and non-specialist audiences.

Be able to use IT to manipulate quantitative and qualitative information to solve defined problems.

Be able to work effectively within a team, giving and receiving information and ideas, and modifying responses as appropriate.

Be able to manage resources for effective learning.

This Level 6 'top-up' programme is designed to enable students who have sucessfully completed the Foundation Degree in Mortuary Science (or equivalent) to continue their studies for a BSc (Honours) degree. The emphasis is on analysis, synthesis and reflection. Learning outcomes incorporate appropriate Level characteristics. The modular content and organisation of this programme is built from FHEQ Honours level qualification descriptors and is informed by the QAA Biosciences and Biomedical Sciences benchmark statements.

The constituent Level 6 modules foster the development of knowledge, understanding and skills in specialised areas of mortuary science (e.g. forensic osteology; disaster intervention, etc.). Throughout the programme, broader aspects are integrated to reflect the human interaction that many employees in the industry would be required to deal with when working with the deceased. The development of personal and professional skills, such as independence of learning/working, flexibility, critical evaluative skills and reflective practice is addressed through these modules.



Knowledge & Understanding                                    Transferable & Generic Skills               Learning Style

Emphasis on analysis, synthesis and reflection.Ability to handle cognitive complexity; to evaluate; to apply knowledge and skills in new situations.Development of creative solutions/approaches  


 Full range of study skills consolidated and applied to independent enquiry.Able to articulate personal standpoint in the context of respect for the views of others.

Assumption of a greater responsibility for own learning, both independently and collaboratively.Autonomy.


Throughout Level 6 study, students are encouraged to develop fully as independent and autonomous learners. The students' knowledge base will be significantly broadened through a range of modules covering the more specialised areas of Mortuary Science. In addition, students are required to undertake a research dissertation (double module), where strong emphasis is placed on the development of independent research skills, along with the ability of the student to present scientific data and arguments in the context of the overall body of knowledge within the discipline.

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
BI6110 6 Dissertation 40 Comp
BI6123 6 Facial Reconstruction 20 N/A
BI6147 6 Forensic Osteology 20 Comp
BI6148 6 Biomedical Toxicology 20 Comp
BI6149 6 Disaster Intervention 20 Optional
BI6150 6 Chemical Decomposition and Investigation 20 Comp
BI6151 6 Counselling Issues for Mortuary Science 20 Optional
NT6001 6 Project & Risk Management in Healthcare 20 Optional

In accordance with the recommendations of theFHEQ, a Level 6 (HE6) Graduate (Bachelor Degree with Honours) will have a minimum of 360 credits, normally with 120 or more at HE6, where 120 equates broadly to the total learning expected from a year of full-time study.
Proposed Pathway for Part-Time Delivery
Level 6 - Year 1
Biomedical Toxicology
Chemical Decomposition and Investigation
Forensic Osteology
Dissertation (Double Module)
Level 6 - Year 2
Dissertation (Double Module)
Disaster Intervention*
Project & Risk Management in Healthcare*
Counselling Issues for Mortuary Science*
Facial Reconstruction*
*Students choose one taught modules out of thefour listed

Candidates will have successfully completed the FdSc in Mortuary Science. Candidates from other institutions who have successfully completed a FdSc or two years of a BSc in a relevant discipline are also welcome to apply.

Kite-marked Access to Science courses, Open College Units and Open University Credits are also accepted.

The Department welcomes applicants from ‘non-conventional' pathways into Higher Education, and we see these students as having a positive effect on the whole student cohort.

Applications are made directly to the University of Chester. Accreditation of prior learning will be considered in line with University policy.

Applicants may be interviewed. The interview will focus on personal qualities and mortuary science-related skills and experience in addition to formal academic requirements.

The minimum starting age is 18 years.

The benchmark statements in Biology and in Biomedical Sciences have been used as an important reference point in the construction of this programme’s learning outcomes, knowledge, skills and content, together with the methods of learning, teaching and assessment. Particular reference has been made to the threshold statements - these being the minimum requirement described in the benchmarking statements by The Quality Assurance Agency (2007). Any individual student will take the equivalent of five modules in total (one being at 40 credits), four of which are core to this programme. The structure and content of the core and optional modules is such that all students will have the opportunity to develop the "skills and attributes acquired by the biosciences graduate …… for a career in biosciences or elsewhere, and make them valued by employers." (The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education 2007.  Biosciences). The particular sets of statements that have been consulted and referenced are generic standards and subject specific standards. 

The programme will be delivered by blended learning in the form of learning packages, e-mail, discussion boards, telephone contact, residential schools and workplace mentoring. The Module Texts (supplemented by set texts) will provide the main learning materials and the University intranet (IBIS) will be used to provide the learning framework, information on work patterns, additional support materials and the platform for communication throughout the programme. Laboratory-based practical exercises which contribute to the Learning Outcomes of some modules will be undertaken within the appropriate Residential School, which will be scheduled at the start and end of each module. This approach to learning and teaching has been successfully implemented by the Department for the delivery of several science foundation degrees (including the foundation degree in Moruary Science).    

Members of the Department of Biological Sciences have many years of experience in offering distinctive programmes of study at foundation, diploma, undergraduate, postgraduate and post-experience levels. The Department has considerable experience of supporting the learning needs of mature students and of students generally with ‘non-standard entry’ qualifications. Considerable experience has been achieved with students with limited entry qualifications both in terms of academic performance and personal development.

Residential Schools 

At the start of each module, students will attend a Residential School at which the module content (including support provision, learning materials and assessment details) will be described. Considerable guidance will be given on learning to learn, accessing and using resources and preparing assignments as well as an introduction to the modular content.

Students will be encouraged to form self-help groups (communicating through e-mail, discussion boards, chat rooms or telephone) and these will be explained and organised at the Residential School. 

On completion of the allocated time for the module, there will be a second Residential School. This will include any formal assessment – as described in the module descriptor – and module evaluation and staff/student liaison meetings.

Learning Packages

(a) The main learning materials will be in the form of Module Texts supported by a Programme Handbook. The Module Texts will contain a range of text materials, articles, data handling exercises and so on and will be augmented by on-line learning. Wherever possible, a set text will be part of the learning package. Students will be encouraged to carry out self-assessment which will be progressively developed using a variety of in-text questions (ITQs) and self-assessment questions (SAQs) at the end of each section of work. Answers to these questions – together with explanatory notes where appropriate – will give valuable on-going feedback to the students as they progress through the learning materials.

(b) On-line learning

The on-line materials (using the University intranet IBIS) will be used to provide the following: 

The programme

  • A structured weekly guide to the module content
  • Self-assessment questions
  • Assessment details and guidance on presenting the assignment(s)
  • Access to distant, appropriate websites
  • Access to the Library on-line support (including e-books, the Encyclopaedia of Life Sciences)
  • Access to the module Discussion Board and Chat Room
  • e-mail links to the module tutor(s)
  • Text references.
  • Access to the support infrastructure.
E-mail seminars 

Time will be given each week to student/staff interaction via e-mail. Students will be allocated a time slot during which the module tutor will answer e-mails concerning the module content and/or assessment.

Practical work 

Practical exercises relevant to modular content will be undertaken at the appropriate Residential School. These provide the opportunity for students to develop their data handling and analytical skills as well as their practical skills (e.g. observational and manipulative skills). An impotant aspect of practical work is also the opportunity it offers for group work, encouraging working with others. 

Employability Skills

Employability skills encompass the attributes that help graduates to secure employment , enable them to respond to the changing demands of the workplace and contribute positively to their employer’s success and their own progress are essential as outcomes in programmes of study.  Employability skills include; self-management, team working, business and customer awareness, problem-solving, communication and literacy, application of numeracy, application of information technology. All programme modules delivered by the Dept of Biological Sciences have identifiable employability learning outcomes.  These have been developed to help student’s identify and develop skills that will equip them for their working lives. 

Visiting Lecturers

Visiting Lecturers will be used to support the delivery of the programme. This will provide expertise in pathology, forensics and will include contributions from a range of personnel involved in aspects of mortuary science and related industries.

The University's over-arching Level-related criteria are a key reference when designing modular assessments. Therefore, assessments that require significant levels of study autonomy and critical analysis underpin the overall assessment strategy of this programme. 

In addition, all students who pass any part of an honours degree are expected to possess such basic skills as the ability to make use of numerical and statistical information; the ability to locate internet sites from given web addresses; the ability to send and receive e-mail messages; the ability to use basic software packages such as Word; the ability to perform basic searches on standard electronic retrieval systems, and the ability to write legibly. Students who succeed at Level 6 should be able to construct an essay using correct grammar, spelling and referencing according to the American Psychological Association (APA) system of referencing.

Each module is assessed on a 4,000 word-equivalent basis, with a one-hour examination equating to 1,000 words. The module descriptors include information on assessment methods; nearly all modules involve more than one method of assessment.  At the modular level, assessment is tied to learning outcomes so that assessment modes indicate those outcomes that are being assessed

Generally, there is a balance in the core modules between course work and examination - this has been departmental policy for some time. The staff believe that in preparing and submiting course work (which can include essays, laboratory reports and data handling exercises), students are given time and scope to present their work in a variety of modes which would be inappropriate for an examination. However, we are aware that examinations have an important role in summative assessment as well as giving academic credibility, both internally and externally, to the work of the Department. 

A summary of the assessment components involved in each module and percentage weighting is presented below:

Module Code

ExaminationCoursework(practical reports, essay or presentation)

 BI6110 100
 BI6147                  5050


 BI6149 100
 BI6150 50 50
 BI6151 100
 BI6123 100

If a student fails a module overall, he/she will be reassessed in the failed component(s). Reassessment will normally use the same mode as the original assessment, reassessing those learning outcomes that were not achieved in the failed component(s). The module descriptors indicate how each module is reassessed.

Formative assessment and feedback

All sudents receive writen comments on course work and additional feedback on the work is given more informally by individual tutors. Additionally, students are invited to discuss their assessment results with the appropriate tutor. This opportunity allows students to discuss their performance and ways to enhance it for the future. 

Formative feedback is an important and essential component of all taught modules. The nature of the assessment and feedback varies from module to module.

Assessment matrices are useful indicators of the development of learning in relation to content and key skills. Learning outcomes from modules in the programme are mapped against Key Skills below.   

Key Skill

CommunicationITApplication of numberWorking with othersImproving own learningProblem solving
Module Number      
BI6110E  AE  AE  A  EE  A
BI6147E  AE  A E  A EE  A 


E  A E  A E  A EE  A 
NT6001E  A   E AE  A 
BI6148E  A E  AE  A  E  A
BI6149E  AE     E  A
BI6150E  AE  A  E  A  
BI6123 E  AE  A   

E - indicates that the skill is included in the module learning outcomes 

A  - indicates that the skill is included in the module assessment

This programme is designed to equip graduates with the necessary knowledge and practical (transferable) skills to embark on careers within the mortuary/funeral care organisations and related bioscience and biomedicine industries, or to undertake further training for specialist careers. The transferable skills embedded throughout the programme will benefit graduates considering a change of career and equip them to enter other areas of employment (e.g. business, personnel work; sales, etc).

Graduates of the BSc Mortuary Science should have:

  • knowledge and understanding of the application of science and research methods to the practice of mortuary science.
  • ability to apply academic knowledge and techniques to practical solutions in mortuary science.
  • skills of academic enquiry to generate potential solutions to problems relevant to mortuary science, and cognitive skills to critically evaluate these to arrive at solutions fitted to context.
  • an understanding of the limits of their knowledge, and how this influences analysis and interpretations.
  • skills to effectively communicate information, arguments, and analysis, in written and oral form, to specialist and non-specialist audiences.
  • confidence and transferable skills to undertake further training, develop existing skills, and acquire new competencies that will enable them to assume responsibility within mortuary science or funeral care organisations.

Graduates from the programme should be able to:

(i) adopt a systematic and rigorous approach to academic study

(ii) demonstrate extensive knowledge and a critical understanding of relevant theories and concepts

(iii) integrate and synthesise knowledge and understanding in the biosciences

(iv) be able to use a range of practical (e.g. observation, recording of findings, data interpretation, etc,) and work-related skills

(v) apply a critically and theoretically informed perspective to relevant issues and current developments (as appropriate) in biosciences

(vi) apply and evaluate a scientific approach to academic study;

(vii) demonstrate the competence and skills necessary to progress from tutor-led to student-led learning

(viii) adopt appropriate problem-solving, communication and presentation skills and ICT and numeracy

(ix) plan and implement an appropriate project and critically reflect on their practice.

The programmes of study in the Dept of Biological Sciences fully embrace the University’s commitment to the active promotion of equality of opportunity. The  University seeks to ensure that no student is disadvantaged or discriminated against on the grounds of: gender; age; marital or parental status; sexual orientation; racial group (race, colour, nationality, ethnicity or national origins); creed (religious, political or personal beliefs or principles); membership or non-membership of a trade union; and socio-economic background. It also aims to ensure that disabled people and those with special needs do not suffer unfair discrimination, and that they are enabled to achieve their full potential as students.  The ultimate objective of the programmes delivered are to ensure all aspects of delivery are open to all sections of society and in whose activities all students can participate to the best of their ability. This programme is designed to ensure inclusivity and to ensure that the diverse needs of our students are provided for.  At a departmental level all programmes are developed and delivered with the following aspects in mind:

  • Admission requirements are clearly set out in promotional materials and due consideration is given to a policy of widening access, participation, diversity and equality. 
  • Each module and programme is developed in line with University policy to both promote equality and diversity and encourage all students in the development of their learning.
  • There is flexibility in materials and delivery of teaching to support students with disability or from culturally diverse backgrounds and the Department works closely with Learning Support in delivering this support through Learning Support Plans.
  • The induction week activities are designed to integrate all students both academically and socially and to make academic staff aware of any issues.  Students are made aware of avenues of support if they a have any issues regarding diversity and equality.
  • Supportive formative exercises are presented in modules in the first year to give all students an equal chance of succeeding.
  • Assessments are designed to afford equal opportunity to all students to display their knowledge and skills. The introduction of anonymous marking and the blue sticker scheme also enhance equal opportunity to all students.
  • In order to ensure that the needs of all students are met any barriers to access (physical, environmental and curriculum) are identified and removed or reasonable adjustments will be made based on requirements.
  • All learning materials and teaching and learning sessions are designed to be free from racist, sexist and other discriminatory assumptions and practices.
  • All lecturers are aware of diversity issues and discharge their PAT roles with knowledge and sympathy and all students are made aware of the Department structures to discuss issues should a concern arise. 

The Department of Biological Sciences currently employs circa 30 academic staff, 8 technical staff, and 4 administrative staff.  Student numbers in the Department are buoyant with over 500 undergraduate students and 70 postgraduate students. The Department offers programmes of study at Undergraduate, Masters and Foundation degree level in core and applied aspects of biological sciences.   

The Department’s current portfolio comprises a number of programmes with a core of biological sciences curriculum with application in the human or animal sciences. The Department has a number of existing Fd Sc which have been developed with external partners. This includes the Fd Sc Health Care Sciences, developed in partnership with the National Blood Service, and the Fd Sc Mortuary Science which was developed in consultation with the British Institute of Embalmers. In addition the Department delivers a BSc in Biomedical Sciences accredited by the Institute of Biomedical Sciences with eligibility to register with the Health Professions Council.  In 2003 the Department was successful in becoming the Strategic Health Authority selected institution for the commissioning of pre-registration training in Dietetics at undergraduate and postgraduate level. This proposal will extend existing provision in the human sciences programmes. The Department's long-standing commitment to work in accordance with the ethics and values of professional and learned bodies places it firmly within the institutional mission.  Across all its programmes, the Department is concerned with the development of innovative approaches to teaching and learning, research and scholarly activity.  Students on existing programmes delivered by blended learning are supported in their learning by means of a well-established induction and development programme that introduces a wide range of study skills and key skills, thereby contributing towards the University’s commitment to widening access to HE programmes.  

Quality of Provision

The Department was highly commended in the Institutional Audit (2005) and in the 2006 Major Review of Healthcare provision. The focus for the Department is the Thomas Building in the centre of the main campus. Here there are recently refurbished teaching laboratories, offices and a preparation room and five research laboratories. In addition, the Department has a further large undergraduate teaching laboratory in the Tower building.


The University has invested considerable finances in adding to the research expertise in Biological Sciences. In the 2008 RAE (Allied Health Professions and Studies), 20% of our research output was considered world leading or internationally excellent, and 39% was internationally recognised for its significance. We have 25 research students reading for PhD degrees and we hope to increase this number.  The research activity in the forensic biology area has been developed in recent years and there are now a number of PhD students researching in areas related to this.

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