Forensic Archaeology (ARC1008)

StaffDr Laura Evis - Convenor
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.50
NQF Level4
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

The aim is to introduce students to key scientific approaches that are of common value to both traditional and forensic archaeology and provide students with basic practical skills in relevant techniques. Students will be introduced to techniques for searching and locating buried remains, the identification of evidence, excavation and recovery of buried remains. The role of the forensic archaeologist in court will be a key component of the module following the students' participation in a mock outdoor crime scene practical.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Know and understand the basic principles and limitations behind locating buried evidence through field craft, patterns of offender behaviour and the application of databases (Catchem, Necrosearch).
  • 2. Recognise the role of the forensic archaeologist in the investigation of a major incident, from the crime scene to the court room.
  • 3. Identify evidence types within the buried environment and know and understand sampling procedures and issues of contamination.
  • 4. Know and understand the basic principles of forensic excavation.
  • 5. Demonstrate basic practical skills in locating buried remains, identifying evidence types, excavating anomalous features, soil sampling, recovering buried remains and recording the crime scene.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 6. Demonstrate basic field skills
  • 7. Work safely in the field
  • 8. Have a competent overview of the use and acquisition of data
  • 9. Effectively communicate methods and results to non-experts.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 10. acquire a range of observational and analytical skills which are applicable in the wider world especially in the context of professional work

Syllabus plan

Topics and Activities:  Introduction to module; overview lecture on role of the forensic archaeologist and structure of those involved in the investigation of a major incident.  Search and location, introducing the application and limitations of various techniques such as the use of field craft, geophysics, cadaver dogs, search databases, POLSA search teams.  Forensic taphonomy.  Identification of evidence types and the recovery of buried remains.  Crime scene practical (8 hours).  The forensic archaeologist in the courtroom practical.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching activities25Lectures with discussion
Scheduled learning and teaching activities8Supervised practical work
Guided independent study117Independent study

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Written Report602000 words plus illustrations1-10mark and written comments
Worksheet in class4045 minutes, short answers1-5, 8, 10mark and written comments

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Worksheet in classWorksheet under exam conditions1-5, 8, 10Referral/deferral period
Written ReportWritten Report 2000 words1-10Referral/deferral period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Indicative basic reading list: Brothwell, D.R. and Pollard, A.M. (eds) 2001 Handbook of Archaeological Sciences. Chichester: Wiley. Hunter, J. and Cox, M, 2005 Forensic Archaeology: advances in theory and practice. London: Routledge. Hunter, J., Roberts, C. and Martin, A. 1996 Studies in Crime: An Introduction to Forensic Archaeology. London: Batsford. Indicative web based resources e.g. ELE: ELE containing lecture powerpoint presentations, handouts and module details Other resources: Departmental archaeology excavation equipment, replica skeletons.

Module has an active ELE page?


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date


Key words search

Forensic, taphonomy, archaeology