Back in 2020 I enrolled on a masters degree at the University of Glasgow. I’d wanted to return to study when I turned 60, and I discovered that Glasgow was offering a new qualification in End of Life Studies that seemed perfectly to complement my professional practice as a funeral celebrant. Not only that, the course is entirely taught online and can be done as a part-time degree. So it was both relevant to my work and accessible, based as I am in Dundee and with my own celebrancy career and family caring responsibilities.

Now three years later, I have finished the course and in July will celebrate my graduation. It’s been a long haul and not always easy. It’s a demanding course and juggling all those demands proved hard at times. But always stimulating and fascinating. Taught modules included:

  • Study of the history of ideas around death and dying
  • Palliative care and compassionate communities
  • Assisted dying (very relevant at the moment in Scotland with possible legislation moving through Parliament)
  • Cultural representations of death
  • End of life issues seen from a global perspective

I found myself studying things as diverse as the development of compassionate communities in Inverclyde and Kerala; the portrayal of illness and death in the soap opera, Coronation Street; euthanasia in Colombia; global disparities in the availability of the most basic opioid drugs to relieve pain. And finally, I was able to conduct research into my own profession by completing a year-long dissertation exploring the shift in how funerals in Scotland have been conducted over the last twenty years.

The learning experience has been greatly enriched by working with an amazing group of fellow students. The online nature of the course means that people from all over the world can participate – there are students from Canada, the US, Mexico, Portugal, South Africa, Asia…. and we have made connections and firm friendships that will last long after the excitement of graduation subsides.

But that excitement is still to come! Our course is based at Glasgow University’s campus in Dumfries and that will be where the main Graduation in July takes place. I wanted to do something in Glasgow itself though and so we are organizing a private celebration on the main university campus in the West End. It will be led by my friend, fellow celebrant and SICA member, Gillian Robertson who carries out these private celebrations of graduation and academic achievement.

Lastly, I’d like to thank my course tutors and supervisor Drs Naomi Richards and Marian Krawczyk for all their support and guidance over these past three years. And for those of you who might be interested…..I am attaching below a summary of my dissertation. All in all it has been a fantastic opportunity and a reminder that it’s never too late in life to start new endeavours.

Michael Hannah, Dundee, February 2024

Michael Hannah MSc (Glasgow)

2 thoughts on “Michael Hannah MSc (Glasgow)

  • February 18, 2024 at 10:36 am

    Congratulations, Michael – a wonderful achievement!
    Such a fascinating piece of work at a time of such change, and I most certainly learned a lot from your research.
    Celebrants are, indeed, privileged to do the work that we do, and to be there for families – I most certainly agree that the ‘family visit’ is so much more, and I often feel that this is the most significant aspect of what we do, that really makes a difference and offers that unique opportunity to talk about some who is so loved and so missed – we don’t do that enough!
    Thank you for sharing!
    And, I couldn’t be more delighted and excited to be involved in your Graduation Celebration – thank you for inviting me!

    • February 18, 2024 at 10:50 am

      Thank you for your kind words Gillian – I am also looking forward to the Graduation and very excited to learn how you will help us mark this important achievement!


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