Institute of Archaeology

Forensic Anthropology


This course in intended to give the student an introduction to the techniques needed when dealing with human remains within the legal framework, both within a forensic death investigation and in larger mass fatality scenes. This course provides students with the skills required to create a biological profile for human remains, perform trauma analysis, and understand the role of the forensic anthropologist in a variety of situations. This course also provides students with a strong understanding of the basics of the legal framework that surrounds all forensic scientific inquiry, and how to best aide the police in their investigations.

This module also encourages students to think beyond the published literature and understand the impact their research has within the court system, with practitioners, and, potentially, with the wider public.

It is expected that the students enrolling in this course have a good understanding of basic human osteology or are enrolled on the ARCLG143 & ARCLG144 modules concurrently.

Aims of the course

  • To introduce students to the wide range of crimes and circumstances where the Forensic Anthropologist is required
  • To provide students with a comprehensive background in the function and role of forensic anthropological skills in forensic identification at the scene and mortuary
  • To introduce students to the legal framework in which forensic anthropologists work within in both the UK and abroad
  • To provide students with a clear and define framework in which human skeletal identifications are made
  • To provide students with the skills needed to undertake biological profiling tasks
  • To introduce the students to trauma analysis and the role of the forensic anthropologist when interpreting violent crimes
  •  To introduce students to mass fatality events and the role of the forensic anthropologist within their analysis


On completion of the course the student should:

  • Fully understand the varied role of the forensic anthropologist
  • Have an understanding of what is required at a scene and at a mortuary
  • Understand the importance of working within a multidisciplinary team
  • Recognise when the skills in human identification could assist the investigations, and when other specialists have to be called in
  • Be able to perform all biological profiling tasks and be able to undertake basic trauma analysis in skeletal material

Teaching Methods

Teaching the course is accomplished by a combination of formal lectures (with in-class discussions) and practical sessions. Each teaching session focuses on a particular topic and has an associated reading list.

Course information

  • Code: ARCLG151
  • Credits: 15
  • Coordinator: Carolyn Rando
  • Prerequisite: It is expected that students have a basic knowledge of human osteology and biological profiling.
  • Handbook: open»

For registered students


  • Runs every year

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