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Course content

This one-year degree is designed for students who already hold a first degree (BA or BSc) in Forensic Anthropology or a related subject, and is intended to provide advanced training in subject areas which are germane to current professional requirements, but which are not available collectively at any other institution in the world.

Why study Anatomy & Advanced Forensic Anthropology at Dundee?

Forensic anthropology is the analysis of human remains for the medico-legal purpose of establishing identity. The discipline has adopted a pivotal role in UK and International investigations in cases of inter-personal violence and homicide, repatriation, mass disasters and war crimes.

Recent mass fatality incidents have highlighted the requirement for national and international disaster victim identification (DVI) capability, and cemented the forensic anthropologist’s role as a significant component within the multi-disciplinary response facility.

Traditionally the forensic anthropologist has dealt with human skeletal remains resulting from unexplained deaths; this professional definition is unrealistically restrictive given the multi-disciplinary nature of the demands of human identification in the twenty-first century. In particular there is a significant requirement for anatomically-trained forensic anthropologists who are competent in dealing with both soft and hard tissues in order to fulfil the requirements of DVI deployment.

Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification

This course is taught within the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identfication (CAHID) and is located in the Medical Sciences Institute at the University of Dundee, Scotland.

Prof Sue Black heads the Centre, she was awarded an OBE for her International Human Identification work from mass graves and co-authored Developmental Juvenile Osteology and The Juvenile Skeleton.

The award-winning staff of this Centre are amongst the most experienced in the UK in the fields of human identification, forensic anthropology, craniofacial identification and the study of the human body.

The core remit of the Centre is the study of anatomy. The Centre delivers high quality anatomy teaching at all levels, via whole body dissection which allows students to develop a sound knowledge of the human body. The Centre relies on the generosity of donors for the ability to teach students to the highest standard possible.

The Centre was awarded a prestigious Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher Education in November 2013. Presented in recognition of 'world class excellence', the Queen’s Anniversary Prizes are among the

Aims of the Programme

The aim of this programme is to provide training in anatomically-based forensic anthropology, and specifically to provide advanced training in musculoskeletal anatomy, juvenile osteology, comparative forensic osteology and DVI training.

What you will study

Course Structure:
This is a one year full time taught Masters programme in which all modules are compulsory. The research dissertation can be in the form of original laboratory research in an area pertinent to anatomy and forensic anthropology.

Human Gross Anatomy (Semesters 1 & 2):
Provides the opportunity to conduct whole body dissection, with particular emphasis on functional and musculoskeletal anatomy
Exposure to human form and function with direct relevance to the identification process
Only institution in the UK offering the opportunity to dissect cadavers which have been embalmed using the Thiel soft-fix method, which provides life-like preservation of the soft tissues.

Developmental Juvenile Osteology (Semester 1):
Focuses on the development of the human juvenile skeleton as a means to understanding adult skeletal form
Through practical examination, each bone of the body will be studied from its embryological origin, through key developmental milestones, until the attainment of its adult form
Practical sessions will focus on the unique Scheuer collection of juvenile skeletal remains.
Forensic Anthropology as Expert Evidence

Covering the more specialised skills including forensic anatomy, trauma analysis and age estimation in the living this module will cover the skills required to present your analyses in a court of law.

Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) training (Semesters 1 & 2):
Provides a thorough understanding of the DVI process in the UK and abroad
Developed by experienced practitioners, it is based on the National DVI Training course for the UK DVI team
Delivers a robust theoretical underpinning for anyone undertaking DVI work on a practical basis.

MSc Research Project (Semester 3):
Students will undertake an advanced level practical project supervised by a research-active practitioner
CAHID staff have significant experience in many areas of forensic human identification, including juvenile osteology, facial anthropology, facial reconstruction, age assessment in the living and dead, analysis of sexual dimorphism and ancestry, soft tissue biometric systems, human provenance, skeletal pathology and trauma, and virtual anthropology

How you will be assessed

A variety of assessment methods will be employed including practical spot exams, online assessment and traditional essay based examination.


There is a significant requirement for anatomically-trained forensic anthropologists who are competent in dealing with both soft and hard tissues in order to fulfill the requirements of DVI deployment. This degree will train individuals to be competent in specialist areas of anatomy and forensic anthropology.

Visit the MSc Anatomy and Advanced Forensic Anthropology page on the University of Dundee website for more details!






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