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This programme is a pathways-based MSc degree, with a strong emphasis on the development of skills and specialism in Bioarcheology, including opportunities to gain experience with both human and zooarchaeological remains.

Students will acquire expertise in the anatomy of humans and animals, bone identification, sexing, ageing, health and disease, paleopathology, growth, diet, death and burial, and ethics. They will learn how to consider issues such as status, ethnicity, social identity, disability, migration and domestication thorough skeletal material and mortuary contexts.

The programme has a strong practical component. Students have full and unlimited access to the large human skeletal collection held in purpose-built facilities in the Department of Archaeology, including Bronze Age, Roman, Anglo-Saxon, and medieval skeletons, as well as one of the largest faunal comparative collections in the UK, including fish and birds. Practical work further includes opportunities to work with isotopes for analysis of diet and migration in our isotope preparation lab, with analysis undertaken at National Oceanography Center, part of University of Southampton. State-of-the-art imaging is available at University of Southampton MuVIS Imaging Centre where students can access a full scanning, imaging and micro-CT suite through Archaeology’s collaboration with Bioengineering. Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) and 3-D printing facilities are also available. In addition, students engage with the latest developments in molecular techniques that can be applied to osteological material.

Bioarchaeology at University of Southampton has close links and collaboration with Anatomy through the Centre for Learning Anatomical Sciences and with Historic England. It is a global leader in research with projects across the globe including Spain, Romania, Croatia, Sudan, Egypt, USA, Canada, Denmark, UK and students frequently participate in these. Staff are actively involved in the following journals and organisations: Bioarchaeology International, Paleopathology Association, British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology (BABAO), and American Journal of Physical Anthropology (AJPA)


You will engage with hands-on, real-world archaeological materials and situations, including opportunities to collaborate with a range of stakeholders and partners in the archaeological sector through a professional placement. By these means you will acquire skills for vocational employment or subsequent PhD research. Your programme will be embedded within Southampton Archaeology’s distinctive research culture, with world-class expertise, diverse practice, and contacts with the commercial environment and the heritage sector.

The specialism in Bioarchaeology includes elements that familiarise you with human skeletal biology; key research questions in, and approaches to, bioarchaeology; palaeopathology and disease; the archaeology and anthropology of death; and zooarchaeology. This pathway provides a springboard towards further research or a career in the commercial sector. 

Important aspects of the programme are available across all specialisms. These include the compulsory dissertation module, which should focus on an area of your specialism, if you have chosen one. Furthermore, modules from each pathway are open to you as options, regardless of your chosen specialism. By these means you will be able to build a personalised and flexible programme tailored to your needs. 

This programme includes opportunities for credit-bearing placements within organisations involved in commercial archaeology, heritage management, fieldwork projects and/or museums. The placements are typically organised by the University, and may be available to students following all specialisms, or crossing between them.

View the programme specification document for this course

Visit the Archaeology (Bioarchaeology) - MSc page on the University of Southampton website for more details!




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