Institute of Archaeology


Programme Structure for MSc Bioarchaeological and Forensic Anthropology

The MSc Bioarchaeological and Forensic Anthropology provides students with fundamental skills and knowledge to study human remains in both bioarchaeological and forensic anthropological context.

Degree co-ordinator: Carolyn Rando

Other Major Contributors: Katie Hemer and Rebecca Watts 

The degree programme provides students with a solid grounding in all aspects of skeletal and dental anatomy, methods and procedures for assessing human skeletal material, identifying disease in the skeleton, and the legal context when dealing with modern forensic human remains.

Students will learn how to identify, analyse and report on skeletonised human remains, both from archaeological and forensic contexts. Students will learn basic and advanced skeletal and dental anatomy, how to create a biological profile, trauma analysis, disease analysis (palaeopathology), skeletal biomechanics, bone metabolism, and palaeoepidemiology. Core critical thinking and research skills will be developed.

Please note that this degree is only available for full time study in 2024/25

Degree handbook 


Students take five core modules, choose one option module and complete a 15,000 word dissertation. Teaching is carried out over a full academic year, although it is possible to take the course part-time over two years.

Core Modules

All students must take the following:

Option Modules

Students choose to follow one further options module (15 credits), which may be chosen from the following list or from the wider range of Masters module options 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 course co-ordinator before making your options choice. 

Please note not all modules are available every year.


(90 credits)- All students undertake an independent research project and write a dissertation (15,000 words) over a period of about 4 months. Students are allocated a Supervisor to provide guidance during the dissertation research.

Examples of past topics include:

  • Degenerative joint disease of the cervical spine in population groups from Sudan
  • Non-metric osteological traits (e.g. mandibular tori) and their relevance for bioarchaeology
  • A study of migration patterns in Roman Britain using multivariate cranial analysis
  • The epidemiology of gout in eighteenth-century London
  • Osteopenia and osteoporosis in archaeological material
  • The study of tooth development such as molar crown formation and its archaeological implications
  • The osteological evidence for the mercury treatment of syphilis in 17th to 19th century London
  • Analysis of trauma fracture patterns in burnt bone
  • Sex estimation from the metatarsals/metacarpals
  • The concept of race in forensic anthropology
  • Analysis of corrosive household chemicals on bone
  • Identification of sharp-force trauma on bone
  • SfM/GIS and mass grave analysis
  • Blast distribution patterns in close-contact explosions
  • Animal scavenging behaviour and buried remains