Human Osteology and Funerary Studies at Winchester gives you the opportunity to study the practical and theoretical aspects of human remains and funerary studies in archaeology, and what they tell us about the life, health and death of past populations. The course includes taught components on a wide range of practical and theoretical aspects of the study of human remains in archaeology, with some modules focusing on the study of funerary beliefs and rituals throughout prehistory and history.
You study and undertake research from a particular archaeological period or geographical area, such as The Palaeolithic of Western Europe, The Roman Period, The Post-Medieval Period in Europe, or North America and the Caribbean. The practical teaching on the course uses skeletons from the St Mary Magdalen Leprosy Hospital, curated in the Department of Archaeology.
You complete core modules in Human Skeletal Anatomy and Fundamentals of Skeletal Analysis, Palaeopathology, Concepts of Funerary Archaeology, and Funerary Studies, along with Research Methods and Skills, which is designed to help you complete your final dissertation.
The dissertation allows you to apply your knowledge and research skills in the production of a substantive piece of research of 15,000 words on a relevant topic of your choice, supervised by a member of staff with relevant research interests. Departmental staff have expertise in themes and approaches including Medieval Hospitals, Leprosy in the Medieval Period, Skeletal Trauma, Deviant Burials, Disability in Prehistory, Commingled and Disarticulated Remains and Cremated Remains.
Collections available for dissertations include material in the Novium Collections at Fishbourne and the extensive holdings of the Hampshire Cultural Trust. You also choose a module from a wide range of options including Issues in Global Cultural Heritage, Byzantium and Beyond, The Archaeology of Africa, and The Archaeology of Buddhism.
MSc Human Osteology and Funerary Studies acts as a basis for a career within archaeology or a related discipline, or as preparation for undertaking an MRes, MPhil or PhD.
MSc Human Osteology and Funerary Studies acts as a basis for a career within archaeology, or related discipline, or as preparation for undertaking an MRes, MPhil or PhD.
*subject to validation
'Validation' is the process by which the University approves a new programme to ensure that it provides a distinct, high quality academic experience for students, that enables them to acquire the necessary academic knowledge, understanding, general and subject-specific skills required to pursue a graduate level career. In the unlikely event that a programme is not validated then we will do our best to find you an alternative programme within the University.
UK, EU, World
The course is taught through a combination of lectures, presentations and practical laboratory sessions, and attendance at departmental/research centre seminars enables students to share their experiences.
Collections available for dissertations include material in the Novium Collections at Fishbourne and the extensive holdings of the Hampshire Cultural Trust.
Taught elements of the course take place on our King Alfred Campus (Winchester) or at our West Downs Campus (Winchester)
Assessment is by means of a series of essays, reports and exams. The dissertation module allows students to apply the knowledge and research skills developed in the production of a substantive piece of research of 15,000 words on a Human Osteology and/or Funerary Studies topic of their choice, supervised by a member of staff with relevant research interests.
Our validated courses may adopt a range of means of assessing your learning. An indicative, and not necessarily comprehensive, list of assessment types you might encounter includes essays, portfolios, supervised independent work, presentations, written exams, or practical performances.
We ensure all students have an equal opportunity to achieve module learning outcomes. As such, where appropriate and necessary, students with recognised disabilities may have alternative assignments set that continue to test how successfully they have met the module's learning outcomes. Further details on assessment types used on the course you are interested in can be found on the course page, by attending an Open Day or Open Evening, or contacting our teaching staff.
We are committed to providing timely and appropriate feedback to you on your academic progress and achievement in order to enable you to reflect on your progress and plan your academic and skills development effectively. You are also encouraged to seek additional feedback from your course tutors.
For more information about our regulations for this course, please see our Academic Regulations, Policies and Procedures.
Bioarchaeology is an exciting and fast-advancing field which combines archaeology with branches of the natural sciences to study key topics such as past health and well-being, diet, ecology, subsistence strategies and environmental impacts.
Our MSc in Bioarchaeology aims to develop a broad understanding of these issues through the study of human remains. Students on this programme will also have the opportunity to study animal remains, as well as floral and faunal evidence depending which pathway they choose to follow.
The three available Bioarchaeology pathways are:
The programme develops advanced practical skills in skeletal analysis, making use of the department’s well-provisioned specialist laboratories and reference collections. A particular strength of our provision is that we are able to address the bioarchaeology of both the New and Old Worlds. Those completing the programme acquire the skills necessary to continue into academic research or employment, as an osteologist in field units, museums or CRM companies.
It allows you to specialise in one of two named pathways: Human Osteology (physical anthropology and funerary archaeology) or Zooarchaeology (animal bones and other faunal remains).
Most of the formal classes that you attend will be based on a mixture of lectures, seminars, and workshops. The precise mix will vary between modules. These aim to outline the principal issues of the module, to explore some detailed issues, and, where relevant, to give you experience of working with a particular technique or data set.
All members of staff are actively engaged in research, both in Britain and abroad, and regularly attend conferences, symposia and workshops. It is through this active engagement in the discipline that we are able to supply top quality teaching by experts in their field and as a result we have a 24/24 grading for our teaching from the Quality Assurance Agency.
In addition to our established palaeobotany, experimental archaeology, and microscopy laboratories, we have a new bioarchaeology lab dedicated to the study of anatomical variation, palaeopathological conditions, and the funerary context of human and animal remains. The laboratory, accompanied by a designated store for the Department's collection of human remains, provides facilities for use by researchers and students for examining skeletal remains recovered from archaeological sites. Equipment includes anatomical casts and demographic reference standards used to determine the sex, age-at-death, stature and body proportions from human remains.
Bioarchaeological research at Exeter combines the study of archaeology with branches of the natural and physical sciences to address questions of health and well-being, diet, ecology, subsistence strategies and natural and human-induced environmental impacts in the past.
Our approach is holistic and inter-disciplinary, drawing its inspiration from both definitions of ‘bioarchaeology’: as a study applied to human remains (human osteoarchaeology) and, as originally defined by Grahame Clark, as related to the integration of environmental archaeology, floral and faunal evidence – archaeobotany and zooarchaeology – in archaeological research.
Active field research programmes in North and South America and Eurasia link with extensive laboratory research to address questions of social structure and social organisation, the process of animal and plant domestication, the development of social inequality and power relations, violence and warfare, the rise of élites and craft specialists, and division of labour.
This programme includes 135 credits of compulsory modules and 45 credits of optional modules.
The compulsory modules for each of the pathways can include the following;
The following is a list of the possible optional modules;
The modules listed here provide examples of what you can expect to learn on this degree course based on recent academic teaching. The precise modules available to you in future years may vary depending on staff availability and research interests, new topics of study, timetabling and student demand
MSc Forensic Anthropology is designed to enable graduate students to develop skills in a variety of areas, which concern the processing, analysis and identification of human remains. This postgraduate course provides intensive training in developmental anatomy and osteology, forensic anthropology methods and theory, forensic taphonomy in theory and practice, crime scene investigation and the law, research methods and expert witness and presentation skills. The course has a focus on both domestic forensic anthropology work (e.g. UK and US) and forensic anthropology in the context of international humanitarian work and international criminal investigation.
UCLan’s postgraduate Forensic Anthropology course is the only forensic anthropology/osteology MSc in the UK to be based within a dedicated forensics department with state-of-the-art Crime Scene Investigation practical labs as well as excellent resources in Forensic Biology and Chemistry.
We have a dedicated MSc Forensic Anthropology laboratory and radiography facilities with the full range of teaching casts as well as an extensive collection of experimentally induced projectile, blunt and sharp force trauma. We have an archaeological skeletal collection consisting of some 120 individuals from two sites, one late Medieval and one Victorian. UCLan’s TRACES facility for decomposition and taphonomic experimentation is located nearby and many students choose to conduct MSc dissertation research projects as part of the long term research agenda into estimating time since death. Staff members teaching the course are also active in research and consultancy.
Assessment is based on a combination of coursework and examination and includes an MSc dissertation project. Students are encouraged to present their research findings at international meetings.
Graduating from this course, you will be well placed to undertake further research at the doctoral level, take up jobs in forensic anthropology laboratories, or to participate in human remains excavations.
Human skeletal remains are the most direct evidence of past lifeways and their scientific investigation gives unique insights into human history. Bioarchaeology (the study of archaeological human remains) is an exciting field that draws on a variety of techniques, ranging from visual examination of the whole skeleton to the biomolecular analysis of small bone samples. Demographic shifts, environmental changes, migrations, the spread of diseases and the impact of violence and conflict all leave traces on the skeleton.
This MSc provides the skills required to understand skeletal biographies and interpret them in their cultural context at the individual and the population level. Combining theoretical learning with hands-on practice, we will provide you with the theoretical knowledge and practical skills essential to your handling and analysis of specimens recovered from archaeological sites.
Throughout the programme, you’ll take part in lectures, seminars and practical work with archaeological skeletal assemblages and reference collections. Drawing on Edinburgh’s long history in the study of the human body, you will also have the opportunity to visit Surgeons’ Hall Museum and anatomy department, which provide unique collections of pathological and anatomical study specimens.
You will complete six compulsory courses and select one further option. You will be assessed through reports, lab exams, oral and poster presentations, and essays. You will also submit a dissertation on a research topic of your choosing. Past dissertations have ranged from experimental projects on violence in prehistory to dietary studies of Chalcolithic Turkey and considerations of disease and impairment in post-medieval England.
The compulsory courses on this programme are:
Option courses change from year to year and those available when you start your studies may be different from those shown in the list:
On successful completion of the programme, you will be able to:
Examples of career paths available to archaeology graduates (although some may require additional training) include: higher education, heritage management and agencies, commercial archaeology, environmental assessment, teaching, tourism industry, broadcasting and the police.
An archaeology degree does not, of course, restrict you to a career in archaeology. The programme also equips you for advanced study.