Bioarchaeological and Forensic Anthropology MSc

London, Bloomsbury

This MSc provides students with fundamental skills and knowledge to study human remains in both bioarchaeological and forensic anthropological contexts. This degree 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.

UK students International students
Study mode
Full-time
UK tuition fees (2023/24)
£14,100
Overseas tuition fees (2023/24)
£29,000
Duration
1 calendar year
Programme starts
September 2023
Applications accepted
All applicants: 17 Oct 2022 – 30 Jun 2023

Applications open

Entry requirements

A minimum of an upper second-class Bachelor's degree in archaeology or related subject from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard. Ordinarily, students applying for admission to this programme should have taken an undergraduate level human osteology module or human anatomy module (or similar). Alternatively, students could have attended an osteology related field school or have undertaken archaeological field work involving human remains. Students with other types of experience should contact the degree coordinator for advice.

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: Level 2

UCL Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English courses are for international students who are aiming to study for a postgraduate degree at UCL. The courses will develop your academic English and academic skills required to succeed at postgraduate level. International Preparation Courses

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

Equivalent qualifications

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. Please note that the equivalency will correspond to the broad UK degree classification stated on this page (e.g. upper second-class). Where a specific overall percentage is required in the UK qualification, the international equivalency will be higher than that stated below. Please contact Graduate Admissions should you require further advice.

About this degree

The human skeleton is a complex and dynamic structure that retains an individual's unique physiological experiences gained throughout life, as well as after death. Bioarchaeologists and Forensic Anthropologists have the opportunity to explore those experiences through the study of human skeletal and dental remains. This unique MSc degree draws on the theoretical and scientific methodological approaches of both Bioarchaeology and Forensic Anthropology. It provides a comprehensive programme that allows students to gain in-depth insight into both disciplines, including the opportunity to choose their own research path through their dissertation project.

By studying and working with real human skeletal remains from London (and beyond) students learn how to identify, analyse and report on skeletonised human remains from both archaeological and forensic contexts. How we identify evidence for disease, trauma, as well as the treatment of the body after death is also investigated within the context of real-world forensic and archaeological case-studies.

In combining their critical thinking, knowledge, and the training gained in the classroom and laboratory, this degree prepares students who aspire to continue their education (through doctoral research) or to work in related sectors such as contract archaeology, museums, heritage organisations or law enforcement.

Who this course is for

Instructors on this MSc are leaders in their respective fields (bioarchaeology, dental anthropology, palaeopathology, forensic anthropology), offering students an educational experience unlike any other. Students on this programme come from a diverse array of background and countries, facilitating an exceptional peer-learning environment.

What this course will give you

The UCL Institute of Archaeology is one of the largest and most diverse archaeology department in the UK, offering students a range of opportunities. Students also benefit from a close proximity to the British Museum and the Natural History Museum (NHM), where the course instructors have strong research links. We also have links with the Department of Security and Crime Science.

This particular MSc is unique, offering a combination of Bioarchaeology and Forensic Anthropology 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, radiography) is also available.

The foundation of your career

Employability

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.

Teaching and learning

Assessment is through essays, class tests, reports and the dissertation.

While there are some minor differences between terms, students enrolled on this MSc can expect to spend around 20% of their time in lectures, 30% of their time in practical sessions, and around 50% of their time independently working/revising in the laboratory and undertaking research.

Modules

This is a one year programme consisting of core and optional modules including a research project. Students will undertake taught modules that give a detailed foundation in the methods and theory used to analyse and interpret human skeletal remains, from both Bioarchaeological and Forensic Anthropological contexts. The programme will provide an in-depth grounding in skeletal and dental anatomy and physiology, methods for establishing the biological profile (age, sex, biological affinity), and an understanding of bone metabolism and bone/dental histology. Further, the degree also considers diseases that can be diagnosed from bones and teeth and the palaeoepidemiological insights we can draw from them, as well as the impact of violence on the human skeleton. You will learn procedures for recording skeletonized human remains and apply these methods to a small group of previously excavated skeletons, including the preparation of a report. Students undertaking the optional advanced module in forensic anthropology will also be provided with a unique insight into processes that impact the body after death and the influence of the environment on those processes.

Students complete the programme by undertaking an original research project under the supervision of an academic supervisor; this research is presented as an extended piece of writing in the form of a 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. Modules that are in use for the current academic year are linked for further information. Where no link is present, further information is not yet available.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits. Upon successful completion of 180 credits, you will be awarded an MSc in Bioarchaeological and Forensic Anthropology.

Accessibility

Details of the accessibility of UCL buildings can be obtained from AccessAble accessable.co.uk. Further information can also be obtained from the UCL Student Support & Wellbeing team.

Online - Open day

Graduate Open Events: UCL Institute of Archaeology

The UCL Institute of Archaeology is one of the largest centres for archaeology, cultural heritage and museum studies in Britain. Join us for a Virtual Graduate Open Event to find out more about our wide range of Master's programmes, how our programmes are taught, and what it's like to study at the Institute of Archaeology. Please contact Lisa Daniel, Graduate Admissions Administrator (l.daniel@ucl.ac.uk) if you have any questions.

Fees and funding

Fees for this course

UK students International students
Fee description Full-time
Tuition fees (2023/24) £14,100
Tuition fees (2023/24) £29,000

The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Where the programme is offered on a flexible/modular basis, fees are charged pro-rata to the appropriate full-time Master's fee taken in an academic session. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Students website: ucl.ac.uk/students/fees.

Additional costs

There are no additional costs for this programme.

For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at Accommodation and living costs.

Funding your studies

UCL Institute of Archaeology International Masters Student Award. Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor the scholarship will enable one Overseas fee paying student to undertake a year of study on an eligible taught Master's. It will provide support of up to £26,000 for the duration of their degree to cover fees. Further details can be found here. The deadline for applications is 1 March 2023.

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

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 £90 for online applications and £115 for paper applications. Further information can be found at Application fees.

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.

Applicants must have studied at least one Human Remains module. 

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

Please note that you may submit applications for a maximum of two graduate programmes (or one application for the Law LLM) in any application cycle.

Choose your programme

Please read the Application Guidance before proceeding with your application.

Year of entry: 2023-2024

UCL is regulated by the Office for Students.