Institute of Archaeology


MSc Bioarchaeology and Forensic Anthropology

This MSc provides students with a foundation in the analysis of human remains, both in archaeological and modern forensic settings. With a solid grounding in skeletal and dental anatomy, students learn about morphological variation, development, methods for biological profiling, human disease and forensic approaches to trauma and taphonomy.

Key information

Programme starts

September 2019

Modes and duration

Full time: 1 year
Part time: 2 years

Application dates

All applicants
Open: 15 October 2018
Close: 23 April 2019

Tuition fees (2019/20)

UK/EU: £11,060 (FT) £5,500 (PT)
Overseas: £22,660 (FT) £11,320 (PT)

Note on fees: The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Students website.

Location: London, Bloomsbury

Entry requirements

A minimum of an upper second-class Bachelor's degree in a relevant subject from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard.

English language requirements

If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency.

The English language level for this programme is: Good

Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.

International students

Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.

International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below.

Select your country:

About this degree

Students will learn procedures for interpretation and analysis of human skeletal remains - considering both archaeological and modern forensic contexts. There is a unique opportunity to analyse recently excavated human remains, utilising methods and techniques learned during the programme. While the focus of this programme is primarily on modern humans, late Pleistocene hominids are also considered.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.

The programme consists of five core modules (75 credits), one optional module (15 credits) and a research dissertation (90 credits).

Compulsory modules

  • Dental Anthropology
  • Forensic Anthropology
  • Methodology and Issues in Bioarchaeology and Palaeoepidemiology
  • Morphology and Palaeopathology of the Human Skeleton
  • Variation and Evolution of the Human Skull

Optional modules

Students choose one optional module from the following list or from the wider range of Master's optional modules available. Please note that some core modules are normally only available to those enrolled for the degree in question. If you wish to take a core module from another degree as an option certain restrictions may apply. Please consult the programme co-ordinator before choosing your optional module.

  • Advanced Forensic Anthropology
  • Archaeologies of the Modern World
  • Archaeology of Early Modern Humans
  • Forensic Geoscience (by arrangement with the Jill Dando Centre for Forensic Sciences)
  • Funerary Archaeology
  • Human Evolution (by arrangement with the Department of Anthropology)
  • Palaeoanthropology (by arrangement with the Department of Anthropology)
  • Zooarchaeology in Practice
  • Other Master's options available at the Institute of Archaeology

Other Master's options available at the Institute of Archaeology. Please note that not all options run every year. 


All students undertake an independent research project which culminates in a dissertation of 15,000 words.

Teaching and learning

The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars and practical classes. This MSc has strong links with the Forensic Archaeological Science MSc which gives individual programmes an interesting mix of participants and provides many opportunities for discussion. Assessment is through essays, class tests, reports and the dissertation.

Please note that the list of modules given here is indicative. This information is published a long time in advance of enrolment and module content and availability is subject to change.


UCL Institute of Archaeology (IoA) Master's Awards: a small number of grants up to the value of £1,000 are available for the academic year 2019/20. All UK/EU and Overseas fee-paying students with an offer to start any Master's degree offered by the IoA are eligible to apply. For an application form please email Lisa Daniel. The deadline for applications is 1 March 2019.

For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.


Some graduates of the programme go on to PhD studies, while others go on to work in a range of archaeological and non-archaeological roles as osteoarchaeological specialists, members of the police, curators and political researchers.

Why study this degree at UCL?

The UCL Institute of Archaeology is the largest and most diverse archaeology department in the UK, offering students a range of opportunities.

This particular MSc is unique, offering a combination of bioarchaeological and forensic principles for the study of human remains unlike anything else available in the UK. Students further benefit from access to a large collection of skeletal material for study, including dental and palaeopathology reference collections. Access to sophisticated equipment and techniques (laser scanner, SEM, thin sectioning, CT) is also available.

Some lectures will take place at the Royal College of Surgeons and students have access to their teaching collections and museums, including the Wellcome Museum of Anatomy and Pathology.

Department: Institute of Archaeology

What our students and staff say

Staff view

"It has been amazing to see the growth of public interest in Stonehenge and archaeology more generally in the ten years that we have been running this project."

Professor Mike Parker Pearson

Archaeology MA
Professor of Archaeology

Application and next steps


Students are advised to apply as early as possible due to competition for places. Those applying for scholarship funding (particularly overseas applicants) should take note of application deadlines.

There is an application processing fee for this programme of £75 for online applications and £100 for paper applications. Further information can be found at: www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate/taught/application.

Who can apply?

The programme is suitable for graduates with a first degree in archaeology, anthropology, or the clinical, biological and environmental sciences, but we also consider a range of related subjects such as history or geography. It provides a basis from which students can develop their own research projects or go on to gain experience in helping to report on-site collections.

Application deadlines

All applicants
23 April 2019

If applying after the deadline, please contact the department before making an application to see if places are still available.

For more information see our Applications page.

Apply now

What are we looking for?

When we assess your application we would like to learn:

  • why you want to study Bioarchaeology and Forensic Anthropology at graduate level
  • why you want to study Bioarchaeology and Forensic Anthropology at UCL
  • what particularly attracts you to this programme
  • how your personal, academic and professional background meets the demands of a challenging academic environment
  • where you would like to go professionally with your degree

Together with essential academic requirements, the personal statement is your opportunity to illustrate whether your reasons for applying to this programme match what the programme will deliver.

Contact information

Page last modified on 14 November 2017 by UCL Student Recruitment Marketing