Funerary Osteoarchaeology (ARCM412)

StaffDr Catriona Mckenzie - Convenor
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.50
NQF Level7
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

This module will outline the complex and variable funerary treatments of the dead in past societies through a series of lectures. The lectures are focused predominantly on the British Isles, with additional examples included from Europe and the Near East. The lectures trace a chronological development from the Middle Palaeolithic to the Post-Medieval period. 

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Demonstrate an appreciation for the diversity of funerary behaviour and its use in reconstructing the social organisation of past societies
  • 2. Accurately use terms used to describe the skeleton and that apply to spatial patterning of funerary contexts

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. Apply a biocultural approach to the study of funerary osteoarchaeology
  • 4. Demonstrate an understanding of how the funerary record can be integrated within archaeological discourse

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 5. Critically evaluate information drawn from a variety of sources, including lectures, course literature, ethnohistoric documents, and ethnographic films
  • 6. Demonstrate proficiency in written presentation skills

Syllabus plan

The module will start with an introduction to theoretical approaches to osteoarchaeology. The classes will then focus on different time periods starting from the early evidence of burial practices in the Upper Palaeolithic and ending with the post-medieval period.

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 activities22Lectures (11 x 2 hrs)
Guided independent study128Independent library-based study; essay topic and report crtique chosen by student

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
Essay1004,000 words1-6verbal and written

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay 4,000 words1-6referred/deferred period

Re-assessment notes

Re-assessment will be a 4,000 word essay which is 100% of the credits.

Module has an active ELE page?


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date


Key words search

Archaeology, Osteology, Funerary, Burial