Forensic Anthropology (ARC2514)

StaffDr Laura Evis - Convenor
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.5
NQF Level5
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

This module provides an introductory survey of the basic principles of the study of human remains to establish personal identity with emphases on the metric and non-metric characterisation of skeletal shape and size, and application of demographic reference standards for age and sex determination and population affinity. It also introduces pathological and anatomical variation applied to establishing human identity and the place of such studies within the discipline of biological anthropology.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Understand key concepts of forensic anthropology
  • 2. Use terms and conventions commonly employed in forensic anthropology
  • 3. Demonstrate competence in the identification of the bones of the human skeleton

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. Show initiative in interpreting a variety of information forms
  • 5. Demonstrate familiarity with the literature base germane to forensic anthropology

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 6. Demonstrate competence in summarizing published research
  • 7. Demonstrate competent knowledge base under examination conditions

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • Skeletal anatomy
  • Determination of age-at-death from skeletal remains
  • Determination of ancestral heritage from skeletal remains
  • Determination of stature from human remains
  • Determination of biological sex from human remains
  • Definition and identification of pathological conditions
  • Categorisation and identification of trauma
  • Categorisation and identification of non-metric anatomical variants
  • Role of the forensic anthropologist from crime scene to court
  • Role of the forensic anthropologist in international criminal investigations
  • Role of the forensic anthropologist in mass disaster investigations

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 Teaching18Lectures (9 x 2 hours)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching4Practical laboratory ( 2 x 2 hours)
Guided Independent Study128Private 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
In class test40In class1-6Mark and written comments
Examination602 hours1-7Mark 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
In class testSupervised practical quiz1-7Ref/Def period
ExaminationExamination 2 hours1-7Ref/Def period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.


Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:

  • Byers, S.N. (2008). Introduction to Forensic Anthropology. Allyn & Bacon, Boston (MA). (most recent edition)
  • Bass, W.M. (1987). Human Osteology: A Laboratory and Field Manual. Missouri Archaeological Society, Columbia (MO). (most recent edition)
  • Buikstra, J.E. and Ubelaker, D.H. (eds.) (1994). Standards for Data Collection from Human Skeletal Remains. Arkansas Archaeological Survey, Fayetteville (AR).
  • Hunter, J., Roberts, C., and Martin, A. (1996). Studies in Crime: An Introduction to Forensic Archaeology. Routledge, London.
  • Larsen, C.S. (1997). Bioarchaeology. Interpreting Behaviour from the Human Skeleton. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  • Saunders, S.R., Katzenberg, M.A. (eds.) (2008). Biological Anthropology of the Human Skeleton.
  • Wiley, New York. White, T.D. and Folkens, P.A. (1999). Human Osteology. Academic Press, New York (most recent edition)

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Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

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Key words search

Archaeology, Anthropology, Forensics