This MSc provides students with fundamental skills and knowledge to study human remains in both bioarchaeological and forensic anthropological context. 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.
Modes and duration
Tuition fees (2021/22)
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: ucl.ac.uk/students/fees.
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.
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
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.
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 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.
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).
Upon successful completion of 180 credits, you will be awarded a MSc in Bioarchaeological and Forensic Anthropology.
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.
Students are required to take the following:
- 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
Students choose one optional module from the following list or from the wider range of Master's optional modules available at the UCL Institute of Archaeology. 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
All students undertake an independent research project and write a 15,000 word dissertation (90 credits) over a period of about 4 months.
Examples of past topics include:
- degenerative joint disease of the cervical spine
- comparison of ancestry estimation approaches using both metric and non metric methods
- cogntitive bias in forensic sex estimation methods
- dental cervical diameters in estimating sex in juvenile skelatal material
Teaching and learning
The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars, practical classes and field trips. 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.
For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at Accommodation and living costs.
Institute of Archaeology Master's Awards: a small number of grants up to the value of £1,000 are available for the academic year 2021/22. 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 2021.
UCL Institute of Archaeology International Masters Student Award: thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor the scholarship will enable one international fee paying student to undertake a year of study. It will provide support of up to £26,000 for the duration of their degree and funds can be used to support fees and/or maintenance costs at the recipient’s discretion. Further details can be found here. The deadline for applications is 1 March 2021.
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. 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 bioarchaeological 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.
Department: Institute of Archaeology
What our students and staff say
"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 PearsonArchaeology 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.
This programme requires two references. Further information regarding references can be found in our How to apply section.
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: ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate/taught/application.
Who can apply?
Instructors on this MSc are leaders in their respective fields (bioarchaeology, dental anthropology, palaeopathology, forensic anthropology), offering students an educational experience unlike any other. Additionally, students on this programme come from a diverse array of background and countries, facilitating an exceptional peer-learning environment.
- All applicants
- 31 March 2021
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.
Applicants must have studied at least one Human Remains module.
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