Institute of Archaeology


Forensic Anthropology

This course will give the student an introduction to the techniques needed when dealing with human remains within the legal frame work: at a crime and mass fatality scene, as well at the mortuary.


The course provides students with the skills required to produce a basic legal statement based on the analysis of human remains as it is done at a mortuary, and to aid the police in the identification of the person(s) in question by understanding what the police looks for, and how to work within a multidisciplinary team of forensic archaeologists, entomologists, DNA specialists and others. It is expected that the students enrolling in this course has a basic knowledge of human osteology or have taken ARCL0114 Morphology and Palaeopathology of the Human Skeleton.

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 outline the role of other forensic specialists when arriving at an identification.
  • To introduce the students to the stages of body decomposition and how it applies to forensic identification.
  • To introduce the student in the analysis of cremated remains and the application in forensic cases.


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
  • Recognize when the skills in human identification could assist the investigations, and when other specialists have to be called in.
  • Be able to write a simple report based on anthropological findings

Teaching Methods

Teaching the course is accomplished by a combination of formal lectures, as well as by discussion and practical sessions. Each teaching session focuses on a particular topic and has an associated reading list.

Course information

  • Code: ARCL0119  
  • 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