Course Title: Loss, Trauma and Grief

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Loss, Trauma and Grief

Credit Points: 12


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


365H Global, Urban and Social Studies


Sem 2 2015,
Sem 2 2016,
Sem 2 2017,
Sem 1 2018,
Sem 2 2019

Course Coordinator: Dr Susie Costello

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 3234

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: Building 8, Level 10

Course Coordinator Availability: by appointment

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

Undergraduate degree

Course Description

This course provides you with a critical introduction from a social work perspective to issues related to grief as a response to situations of significant loss or trauma. Grieving and loss can be understood from a range of interdisciplinary perspectives yet medical and psychological viewpoints have tended to dominate. Experiences of loss and grief in contemporary society are shaped by many factors, including the globalization of culture, the popular culture of the mass media, and changing views on spirituality. New frameworks are developing that provide useful directions for individuals and for public health in understanding and coping with grief from socially just and culturally affirming perspectives.

You will explore the diversity of people’s experiences of loss, trauma and grief and the differing meanings given to these experiences; examine key theories for understanding loss, trauma and the grieving process; and explore individual, social and political responses to significant loss, trauma and grief, identifying particular problems and ways of constructively responding to these.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:
• Analyse the impact of diverse political, social, cultural and psychological discourses on perceptions of loss and trauma and the ways people grieve, in both local and global contexts.
• Critically evaluate competing theories informing loss, trauma and the grieving process.
• Assess your own values regarding experiences of loss trauma and grief with reference to the literature and diverse socio-political contexts.
• Formulate strategies for responding constructively and creatively to vulnerable grieving or traumatised populations.

You will be assessed on your development of the following program learning outcomes in this course:
• Apply specialist social work knowledge and skills to understanding and responding to contemporary social disadvantage, oppression and marginalisation, recognising the fundamentally political nature of social suffering
• Use appropriate research strategies to inform ethical professional social work practice and to broaden the scope of contemporary social work theory and practice
• Critically analyse theories informing social work practice and the contemporary policy context to develop an evidence base for ethical professional practice
• Apply critical analytical problem solving skills to develop innovative and creative policy and practice responses to contemporary social problems and to promote the fundamental social, economic and cultural rights of individuals, families, groups and communities.
• Engage in practice which acknowledges the fundamentally multicultural nature of contemporary societies and acknowledges the unique position of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, seeking to promote the rights of these groups.

Overview of Learning Activities

You will be engaged in learning that involves a range of activities such as lecture / seminars and workshops, class and small group discussions, individual and small group activities and reflection, and independent reading and research. As exploring situations associated with the subject of loss, trauma and grief may at times be uncomfortable or challenging your regular attendance is extremely important to build an atmosphere that allows for the development of confidence in reflecting on and discussing the various topics.

Overview of Learning Resources

RMIT will provide you with resources and tools for learning in this course through our online systems. A list of recommended learning resources will be provided by your lecturer, including books, articles and web resources, and copies of PowerPoint presentations and recordings of lectures will normally be available online. You will also be expected to seek further resources relevant to the focus of your own learning.

Overview of Assessment

You will be assessed on how well you meet the course’s learning outcomes and on your development against the program capabilities. Assessment tasks are mapped to the learning outcomes. Assessment tasks may include reflections on class material and readings, and an essay, and will cover both theoretical and practical aspects of your learning. There will be scope for you to be able to develop your work in relation to your own specific areas of interest.

Weighting on the assessment tasks for postgraduate students will vary with an additional or expanded assessment task.

Feedback will be given on all assessment tasks.

If you have a long term medical condition and/or disability it may be possible to negotiate to vary aspects of the learning or assessment methods. You can contact the program coordinator or the Disability Liaison Unit if you would like to find out more.

Your course assessment conforms to RMIT assessment principles, regulations, policies, procedures and instructions which are available for review online: