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Unit information: Introduction to Forensic Anthropology in 2018/19

Please note: It is possible that the information shown for future academic years may change due to developments in the relevant academic field. Optional unit availability varies depending on both staffing and student choice.

Unit name Introduction to Forensic Anthropology
Unit code ARCH30039
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Robson Brown
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Archaeology and Anthropology
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This third year unit sets forth the approaches and techniques used by osteologists studying past populations, with attention to the identification and mensuration of skeletal remains. Classes including practical demonstrations and completion of assignments give students the ability to recognise special characteristics of skeletal remains and appreciate the implications of these for the understanding of past populations.

Intended learning outcomes

At the end of this unit, a successful student will be able to:

1) Identify human bones and assemble them in correct anatomical position

2) Describe the main features of the bone biology, and the implications of this quality of preservation in the archaeological record.

3) Correctly sex an individual from skeletal evidence alone, where possible

4) Correctly age an individual from skeletal evidence alone, where possible

5) Discuss the major categories of quantitative skeletal traits, how they are measured and how they contribute to our understanding of past population biology.

6)Discuss the major categories of bone and dental pathology, how these relate to clinical disease, and how these may be interpreted to inform us of health, palaeoepidemiology and past activity.

7) Write a bone report

8) Describe current UK regulations for the treatment and handling of human remains, and discuss these within the context of more general ethical issues.

Teaching details

weekly Lectures and Seminars

Assessment Details

1 in-class spot-test (50%) Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs) 1,3,4,5,6

1 3,000 word report (50%) ILOs 1-8

Reading and References

Buikstra, J. & Ubelaker, D. H. (eds) (1994). Standards for data collection from human skeletal remains. Arkansas Archaeological Survey Research Series No 44. (MED)

Cox, M. & Mays, S. (2000). Human osteology in archaeology and forensic science . London: Greenwich Medical Media. (ASS)

Larsen, C. S. (1999). Bioarchaeology: Interpreting behaviour from the human skeleton . Cambridge University Press. (ASS)

Roberts, C. (2009). Human remains in Archaeology: A handbook . CBA Handbook. (ISBN-13:978-1-902771-75-5; ISBN-10: 1-902771-75-3)

Roberts, C. & Manchester, K. (1995). The archaeology of disease . Stroud: Alan Sutton. (ASS)

White, t. d. & Folkens, P. A. (2005. The human bone manual. Academic Press. (ISBN-10:0120884674 ; ISBN-13: 978-0120884674).