Thanatochemistry Syllabus for 2021-2022
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MRTS-1225-001 Thanatochemistry


Prerequisite: College-level mathematics course

Course Description

A survey of the basic principles of chemistry as they relate to funeral service. The chemical principles and precautions involved in sanitation, disinfection, public health and embalming practice will be stressed. The government regulation of chemicals currently used in funeral service is reviewed.

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(2 sem hrs; 2 lec)

Class Type

Online Course

Syllabus Information


Turning Art Into Science: Applying Chemistry to Funeral Service.  Damon de la Cruz and Robert Homes.



This course is computer based online instruction. Therefore, you are required to participate in online instructional activities. Each student will access the internet program known as AC CONNECT.  Access to AC CONNECT is MANDATORY.   You will log on to this course and be prepared to do the day's planned project, exercise, activity, group discussion, quiz or exam.

There is no foreseeable excuse for not being able to log on and complete any activity prepared by the instructor. There are computers at public libraries and numerous computer labs on the AC campus. If your computer is inoperable (or incapable) for whatever reason, you will need to make plans to access a computer at another location to do the work.  Incomplete work will receive zero credit, no exceptions.
The online-based instructional activities are delivered through a course website that is hosted on a learning management system called AC CONNECT. AC CONNECT may be accessed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The online learning activities, using either on or off campus computers, are available on dates and times to be provided by the instructor. You must have access to and the willingness to use computers, the internet, and web browsers. You are expected to view audio and video assisted instructional modules, use e-mail, take quizzes and exams, read both paper and electronic materials, and locate internet or web based learning resources. The instructor will require students to participate in online discussions and engage in team and individual communication exercises. The online instructional materials and experiences are designed to supplement the course lectures and textbooks.

Student Performance


By the end of the semester the student will be able to satisfactorily complete all the listed learning objectives with a minimum of 70 percent competency level based on the completion of a minimum of Four (4) major exams and a comprehensive post examination not to exceed two hours. These will be administered under the supervision of the instructor. 
Regular log-in and keeping up with all discussions, assignments, projects, quizzes and exams is necessary for satisfactory completion of this course. 
You are expected to follow the the guidelines set forth by the Mortuary Science Program and Amarillo College.
It is vital that you communicate with the instructor when you are having difficulty with the course.

* Academic Dishonesty will not be tolerated in this class and will result in a grade of 0 on the exam or assignment involved that cannot be replaced or dropped. Please see Student Rights and Responsibilities for a specific description of academic dishonesty. Any cases of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Students at Amarillo College.



Subject Description: This outline is a survey of the basic principles of chemistry as they relate to funeral service. Especially stressed are the chemical principles and precautions involved in sanitation, disinfection, pubic health, and embalming practice. The government regulation of chemicals currently used in funeral service is reviewed.
Objectives: Upon satisfactory completion of a course in chemistry the student should be able to:
1.                  Explain selected facts of general chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry, and embalming chemistry;
2.                  Identify the characteristics of solutions, colloids, suspensions, and the processes of diffusions and osmosis;
3.                  Explain the essential characteristics of autolysis, hydrolysis, fermentation, and putrefaction in the area of the chemistry of decomposition;
4.                  Define organic chemistry and describe the characteristics of organic compounds as they relate to embalming chemistry;
5.                  Compare and contrast the essential characteristics of carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins;
6.                  Differentiate among the representative chemicals in embalming fluid (arterial, cavity, and accessory) and describe their respective functions;
7.                  Identify and list the potentially harmful chemicals used in the preparation room, and their regulations.

Students Rights and Responsibilities

Student Rights and Responsibilities

Log in using the AC Connect Portal

In order to receive your AC Connect Email, you must log in through AC Connect at .

If you are an active staff or faculty member according to Human Resources, use "Exchange". All other students, use "AC Connect (Google) Email".

Expected Student Behavior

Due to unforseen contingencies, some of the class policies may be derived on a case by case basis.

Please be respectful of the other students in class.  Turn off cell phones/pagers.  Pay attention in class.  Do not be disruptive. While most of these rules apply more to a classroom setting, there are instances where these are applicable to the online course environment as well.

If there is any evidence of cheating on any homework, quiz, test, or final, you will receive a zero for that item and cannot make it up or replace it and it cannot be dropped.

NOTE: Modifications or additions applied to this syllabus may be made by the instructor as needed.

Grading Criteria


There will be 4 major exams worth 100 points each.  Quizzes will be given over most chapters.   
Your grade will be determined from a weighted average of the scores on the homework, quizzes, participation, section exams and final exam as follows:  10% Homework/Participation, 15% Quizzes, 60% Exams, 15% Final Exam.
This exam will be comprehensive and given the last week of the semester.
Grades are based on 90.0-100.0 = A, 80.0-89.9 = B, 70.0-79.9 = C, 0.0-69.9 = F.  This generally follows with the grading policy of the Mortuary Science program.


Unit exams and quizzes will end at 11:59 p.m. on the corresponding date due.

Mandatory Skills Building/Tutorials

  In an effort to improve student retention, the following policy is in place for this course:

If a student fails an exam (excluding the final), they will be required to schedule a visit with the instructor (over phone or in person), complete an additional assignment and retake the exam.  All this must be done prior to being able to take the next assigned exam.  If you fail the second attempt, the higher of the two grades will be entered in the grade book.  Failure to complete the tutorial and retake the exam during the required time will result in not being able to take the next assigned exam.  This will result in a zero (0) on the next exam and place you in serious jeopardy of failing the course.  Exams, quizzes and assignments in this course deserve serious attention on your behalf, and the tutorial requirements are instilled in this program to help you succeed.



Regular attendance/participation is necessary for satisfactory achievement. Therefore it is the responsibility of the student to attend class.


Expect exam questions to be from lecture material, assigned textbook readings, handouts, guest lecturer(s) , etc. Expect multiple choice, true/false, fill-in-the-blank and essay questions. THE FINAL EXAMINATION WILL BE COMPREHENSIVE. 

The final exam will be posted and administered during the normal final exam week. It will be a comprehensive examination.


Survey course of the basic principles of chemistry as they relate to funeral service. Especially stressed are the chemical principles and precautions involved in sanitation, disinfection, public health and embalming practice. Government regulation of chemicals currently used in funeral service is reviewed.
Course Structure: (Tentative schedule and may be revised as needed.)
Unit One:Chemical Fundamentals, Chapters 1 – 6, Chapter Quizzes, Exam 1
Unit Two: Organic Chemistry, Chapters 7 – 12, Chapter Quizzes, Exam 2
Unit Three: Biochemistry, Chapters 13 – 18, Chapter Quizzes, Exam 3
Unit Four: An Embalmer's Perspective, Chapters 19 – 23, Chapter Quizzes, Exam 4
Unit Five: Action & Composition of Embalming Fluids, Chapter 24

Additional Information

Syllabus Created on:

08/19/21 4:40 PM

Last Edited on:

08/19/21 5:15 PM