Forensic Anthropology: Principles and Practice (ARCM602)

StaffDr Laura Evis - Convenor
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.5
NQF Level7
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

To provide you with an advanced level of understanding of the role of the forensic anthropologist from crime scene to court.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Understand the methods used to search for and recover human remains.
  • 2. Understand the techniques and methods used to assist with the identification of human remains (macroscopic, microscopic, metric and biomolecular).
  • 3. Understand the key concepts of Forensic Taphonomy.
  • 4. Understand the process of decomposition and its impact on human remains.
  • 5. Understand the impact that burial practices can have on the preservation and analysis of human remains.
  • 6. Understand the structure of the police force in the United Kingdom.
  • 7. Demonstrate an awareness of the work undertaken by forensic anthropologists in criminal, humanitarian and mass disaster contexts, both nationally and internationally.
  • 8. Demonstrate an awareness of the capabilities of other forensic specialisms.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 9. Show initiative in interpreting a variety of information forms.
  • 10. Demonstrate familiarity with the literature base relevant to Forensic Anthropology.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 11. Demonstrate competence in summarised published research.
  • 12. Demonstrate a competent knowledge base in written work.
  • 13. Demonstrate proficiency in written presentation skills.

Syllabus plan

Topics covered: 

  • Forensic anthropology: Its development and use in criminal, humanitarian and mass disaster investigations.
  • International legislation and admissibility regulations.
  • The search for and detection of human remains.
  • The recovery and recording of human remains.
  • The process of decomposition. 
  • Forensic taphonomy.
  • Biological profiling in forensic contexts.
  • The assessment of manner and/or cause of death.
  • Establishing the identity of decedents: Macroscopic, microscopic, metric and biomolecular approaches. 

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 Activities3311 X 3-hour lectures
Guided independent study117

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay plan500 words1-13written and verbal

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
Test302 hours1-13written and verbal
Essay703,500 words1-13written and verbal

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
TestTest 2 hours1-13Referred/deferred period
EssayEssay 3,500 words1-13Referred/deferred period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Blau, S. and Ubelaker, D.H., 2009. Handbook of forensic anthropology and archaeology. Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press. *Call No. 614.17BLA.

Boddington, A., Garland, A.N. and Janaway, R.C., 1987. Death, decay and reconstruction: approaches to archaeology and forensic science. *Call No. 913.02611DEA.

Brickley, M. and Ferllini, R., 2007. Forensic Anthropology Case Studies from Europe. Springfield, Illinois: Charles C Thomas. *Call No. 614.17094BRI.

Byers, S,N., 2011. Introduction to forensic anthropology. Harlow: Pearson Education. *Call No. 614.17BYE.

Galloway, A., 1999. Broken bones: anthropological analysis of blunt force trauma. Springfield, Illinois: Charles C Thomas. Call No. 614.1GAL.

Haglund, W.D. and Sorg, M.H., 1997. Forensic Taphonomy: the postmortem fate of human remains. Boca Raton: CRC Press. *Call No. 614.1HAG.

Haglund, W.D. and Sorg, M.H., 2002. Advances in Forensic Taphonomy: method, theory and archaeological perspectives. Boca Raton: CRC Press. *Call No. 614HAG.

Hunter, J. and Cox, M., 2005. Forensic Archaeology: Advances in theory and practice. London: Routledge. *Call No. 930.10285HUN.

Hunter, J., Roberts, C. and Martin A., 1999. Studies in Crime: an introduction to forensic archaeology. London: Routledge. * Call No. 913.02616HUN.

Klepinger, L., 2006. Fundamentals of Forensic Anthropology. Chichester: Wiley-Liss. *Available online. 

Schmidt, C.W. and Symes, S.A., 2008. The analysis of burned human remains. London: Academic Press. *Call No. 614.17SCH.

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Key words search

Archaeology, Bioarchaeology, Forensic Science, Forensic Anthropology, Forensic Investigation