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Forensic & Archaeological …×

Durham University, Full Time MSc Degrees in Forensic & Archaeological Sciences

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Palaeopathology is the study of past disease in human remains; it is a sub-discipline of bioarchaeology (study of human remains from archaeological sites). Read more
Palaeopathology is the study of past disease in human remains; it is a sub-discipline of bioarchaeology (study of human remains from archaeological sites). This lecture, seminar and laboratory based MSc equips students with the theoretical and practical skills knowledge of how to study and interpret data collected from human remains. The emphasis is on health and well-being using a multidisciplinary approach, linking biological evidence for disease with cultural data (the bioarchaeological approach). This course is unique in the world and it takes a holistic view of disease, as seen in a clinical contexts today, and prepares students for undertaking significant research projects in this subject, or working in contract archaeology, and many other fields. It is aimed at graduates mainly in archaeology and anthropology with or without past experience of knowledge in this field, and for those who aspire to continue into a PhD programme or work in contract archaeology. However, past students have come from a variety of subject backgrounds, and destination data illustrate a wide range of employments take these students.

Course Structure

Two taught modules in the Epiphany term (Research and Study Skills in Archaeological Science and Identification and Analysis of the Normal Human Skeleton), and two taught modules in Michaelmas term (Palaeopathology: Theory and Method; Themes in Palaeopathology), with the double module dissertation over Easter term and the summer (submitted early September).

Core Modules

-Research and Study Skills in Archaeological Science
-Identification and Analysis of the Normal Human Skeleton
-Palaeopathology: Theory and Method
-Themes in Palaeopathology
-Dissertation (double module)

Learning and Teaching

The programme is mainly delivered through a mixture of lectures, seminars and practical classes. Typically lectures provide key information on a particular area, and identify the main areas for discussion and debate in bioarchaeology. Seminars then provide opportunities for smaller groups of students to discuss and debate particular issues or areas, based on the knowledge that they have gained through their lectures and through independent study outside the programme’s formal contact hours. Finally, practical laboratory classes allow students to gain direct practical skills in the recording and interpretation of data from skeletal remains. The latter provide an important element of the programme in allowing independent and group work, as well as hands-on experience under laboratory conditions, essential for a potential future working environment.

The balance of these types of activities changes over the course of the programme, as students develop their knowledge and ability as independent learners, giving them the opportunity to engage in research, professional practice, and developing and demonstrating research skills in a particular area of the subject.

In Term 1 students typically attend 4 hours a week of lectures and 2.5 hours of laboratory sessions, in addition to seminars over the term. Outside timetabled contact hours, students are also expected to undertake their own independent study to prepare for their classes and broaden their subject knowledge. External speakers specializing in specific subject areas from “industry” and academia are brought in to engage the students on issues in research, but also in the profession.

In Term 2 the balance shifts from learning the basic skills required for recording and interpreting skeletal data (age at death, sex, normal variation), to further developing skills for palaeopathological data recording and their interpretation and understanding the limitations. In addition, the Themes module aims to develop in students a critical approach to the evaluation of multiple forms of evidence, beyond that for human remains, for the reconstruction of specific themes. It focuses on discussion and debate of different related issues. In Term 2 students typically attend 4 hours a week of lectures and 2.5 hours of laboratory sessions, in addition to seminars over the term. Again, external speakers specializing in specific subject areas from “industry” and academia are brought in to engage the students on issues in research, but also in the profession.

The move towards greater emphasis on independent learning and research continues in Term 3 and beyond, where the research skills acquired earlier in the programme are developed through the dissertation research project. Under the supervision of a member of academic staff with whom they will typically have three one-to-one supervisory meetings, students undertake a detailed study of a particular area, resulting in a significant piece of independent research. The dissertation is regarded as a preparation for further professional or academic work. In Term 3 students are given the opportunity to attend a Careers Session in the Department where past graduates of the course talk about their career trajectories since graduating.

Throughout the programme, all students have access to an “academic adviser”, or in the case of this MSc the two Directors (Professor Charlotte Roberts and Dr Rebecca Gowland), who provide them with academic support and guidance. Typically a student meets their adviser two to three times a year, in addition to which all members of teaching staff have weekly office hours when they are available to meet with students on a ‘drop-in’ basis. The department also has an exciting programme of weekly one hour research seminars which postgraduate students are strongly encouraged to attend. Additionally, the students who attend the MSc Palaeopathology course are provided with the opportunity to attend journal paper critique sessions each term, and human bioarchaeology seminars given by PhD students.

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Within our highly-rated, nationally and internationally acclaimed, research-led department, some of the very best post-graduate students in Archaeology are able to develop and further their careers within their chosen field of research. Read more
Within our highly-rated, nationally and internationally acclaimed, research-led department, some of the very best post-graduate students in Archaeology are able to develop and further their careers within their chosen field of research. Our Department has a high research profile notably in British, European and Middle Eastern archaeology and in science-based and theoretical aspects of the discipline. We are keen to attract research students to work in these areas. We offer research supervision leading to MA by full-time and by part-time study. Where appropriate, we encourage higher degree candidates to obtain training in research methods by first taking an MA in either Archaeology or one of our other taught Masters courses.

Research postgraduates integrate with staff offering expert specialist knowledge and have access to extensive research facilities. Skills-based training is provided to assist in developing research projects. All postgraduates are encouraged to vocalize their research and share their knowledge with the departmental and wider academic community, by means of departmental seminars, afternoon workshops, postgraduate-led 1-day conferences and by means of publication.

Following one year of full-time or two years of part-time (plus up to six months writing up time) research and writing, you will produce a thesis of up to 50,000 words. The research topic for this qualification is usually based on a specific object, site, or phenomenon. If your topic is suitable and you demonstrate an aptitude for research, the MA or MSc by Research can lead to postgraduate research at a higher level (MPhil. or PhD).

Training

A range of general and specialist research training will be provided for you through individual and group tuition based in the department and more general research preparation courses organised centrally. Your individual training needs will be assessed at the start of your course, and this process is repeated annually.

Departmental Training:

Research and Study Skills in Social Archaeology/Archaeological Science;
access to Level 3 and taught Master's modules, where required;
training in teaching methods with feedback, normally from 2nd year onwards;
specialist training provided by supervisors specific to individual research needs;
contributions to the general Research Seminar Programme and seminars specific to Research Centes linked to the department.

University Training:

Faculty Induction Course at the start of your first year;
Training Needs Analysis to identify your specific training needs;
courses/workshops on research (e.g. 'Managing your research project', Managing the student-supervisor relationship', 'Your intellectual property rights');
access to UKGRAD HEFCE funded training events
access to University information technology courses.

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Within our highly-rated, nationally and internationally acclaimed, research-led department, some of the very best post-graduate students in Archaeology are able to develop and further their careers within their chosen field of research. Read more
Within our highly-rated, nationally and internationally acclaimed, research-led department, some of the very best post-graduate students in Archaeology are able to develop and further their careers within their chosen field of research. Our Department has a high research profile notably in British, European and Middle Eastern archaeology and in science-based and theoretical aspects of the discipline. We are keen to attract research students to work in these areas. We offer research supervision leading to MSc by full-time and by part-time study. Where appropriate, we encourage higher degree candidates to obtain training in research methods by first taking an MA in either Archaeology or one of our other taught Masters courses.

Research postgraduates integrate with staff offering expert specialist knowledge and have access to extensive research facilities. Skills-based training is provided to assist in developing research projects. All postgraduates are encouraged to vocalize their research and share their knowledge with the departmental and wider academic community, by means of departmental seminars, afternoon workshops, postgraduate-led 1-day conferences and by means of publication.

Following one year of full-time or two years of part-time (plus up to six months writing up time) research and writing, you will produce a thesis of up to 50,000 words. The research topic for this qualification is usually based on a specific object, site, or phenomenon. If your topic is suitable and you demonstrate an aptitude for research, the MA or MSc by Research can lead to postgraduate research at a higher level (MPhil. or PhD).

Training

A range of general and specialist research training will be provided for you through individual and group tuition based in the department and more general research preparation courses organised centrally. Your individual training needs will be assessed at the start of your course, and this process is repeated annually.

Departmental Training:

Research and Study Skills in Social Archaeology/Archaeological Science;
access to Level 3 and taught Master's modules, where required;
training in teaching methods with feedback, normally from 2nd year onwards;
specialist training provided by supervisors specific to individual research needs;
contributions to the general Research Seminar Programme and seminars specific to Research Centes linked to the department.
University Training:

Faculty Induction Course at the start of your first year;
Training Needs Analysis to identify your specific training needs;
courses/workshops on research (e.g. 'Managing your research project', Managing the student-supervisor relationship', 'Your intellectual property rights');
access to UKGRAD HEFCE funded training events
access to University information technology courses.

Read less
The MSc in Archaeological Science is designed to provide a broad theoretical and practical understanding of current issues and the techniques archaeologists use to investigate the human past. Read more
The MSc in Archaeological Science is designed to provide a broad theoretical and practical understanding of current issues and the techniques archaeologists use to investigate the human past. Its purpose is to provide a pathway for archaeologists or graduates of other scientific disciplines to either professional posts or doctoral research in archaeological science. It focuses particularly on the organic remains of humans, animals and plants which is a rapidly developing and exciting field of archaeometry. Major global themes such as animal and plant domestication and human migration and diet will be explored integrating evidence from a range of sub-disciplines in environmental and biomolecular archaeology Students taking this course will study and work in a range of environmental, DNA, isotope and dating laboratories alongside expert academic staff.

The aim of this programme is to equip students to:
-Devise and carry out in-depth study in archaeological science
-Analyse and interpret results
-Communicate scientific results to a variety of audiences
-Develop the inter-disciplinary skills (cultural and scientific) to work effectively in archaeology

Students will gain a critical understanding of the application of scientific techniques to our study of the human past, and receive intensive training in a specific area of archaeological science. Students will examine the theory underpinning a range of scientific techniques, as well as the current archaeological context in which they are applied and interpreted. This will be achieved through a broad archaeological framework which will educate students to reconcile the underlying constraints of analytical science with the concept-based approach of cultural archaeology. Students will therefore examine both theoretical and practical approaches to particular problems, and to the choice of suitable techniques to address them. They will learn how to assess the uncertainties of their conclusions, and to acknowledge the probable need for future reinterpretations as the methods develop. Following training in one specific archaeological science area of their choice, students will be expected to demonstrate that they can combine a broad contextual and theoretical knowledge of archaeology with their detailed understanding of the methods in their chosen area, through an original research dissertation.

Course Structure

The course consists of four taught modules of 30 credits each and a 60 credit research dissertation. Students will study two core modules in Term 1 and two elective modules in Term1/2 followed by a research dissertation.
Core Modules:
-Research and Study Skills in Archaeological Science
-Topics in Archaeological Science
-Research Dissertation

Optional Modules:
In previous years, optional modules available included:
-Themes in Palaeopathology
-Plants and People
-Animals and People
-Chronometry
-Isotope and Molecular Archaeology
-Practical Guided Study

Learning and Teaching

The programme is delivered through a mixture of lectures, seminars, tutorials and workshops and practical classes. Typically lectures provide key information on a particular area, and identify the main areas for discussion and debate among archaeologists in a specific area or on a particular theme. Seminars and tutorials then provide opportunities for smaller groups of student-led discussion and debate of particular issues or areas, based on the knowledge that they have gained through their lectures and through independent study outside the programme’s formal contact hours.

Practical classes and workshops allow students to gain direct experience of practical and interpretative skills in Archaeological Science with guidance from experienced and qualified scientists in Archaeology. Finally, independent supervised study enables students to develop and undertake a research project to an advanced level. Throughout the programme emphasis is placed on working independently outside the contact hours, in order to synthesise large datasets and to develop critical and analytical skills to an advanced level.

The balance of activities changes over the course of the programme, as students develop their knowledge and the ability as independent learners and researchers. In Terms 1 and 2 the emphasis is upon students acquiring the generic, practical skills and knowledge that archaeological scientists need to undertake scientific study in archaeology whilst examining and debating relevant archaeological theory and the 'big questions' to which scientific methods are applied. They also study a choice of specific areas creating their individual research profile and interests.

Students typically attend three hours a week of lectures, and two one hour seminars or tutorials each week. In addition, they may be required to attend three-four hours a week of workshops or practicals based on lectures. The practical work complements desk-based analytical skills which are intended to develop skills applicable within and outside the field of archaeology. Outside timetabled contact hours, students are also expected to undertake their own independent study to prepare effectively for their classes, focus their subject knowledge and develop a research agenda.

The balance shifts into Term 3, as students develop their abilities as independent researchers with a dissertation. The lectures and practicals already attended have introduced them to and given them the chance to practice archaeology research methods within specific fields of study. Students have also engaged with academic issues, archaeological datasets and their interpretation which are at the forefront of archaeological research. The dissertation is regarded as the cap-stone of the taught programme and an indicator of advanced research potential, which could be developed further in a professional or academic field. Under the supervision of a member of academic staff with whom they will typically have ten one-hour supervisory meetings, students undertake a detailed study of a particular theme or area resulting in a significant piece of independent research. They also interact with scientific lab staff as they carry out their research.

Throughout the programme, all students also have access to an academic adviser who will provide them with academic support and guidance. Typically a student will meet with their adviser two to three times a year, in addition to which all members of teaching staff have weekly office hours when they are available to meet with students on a ‘drop-in’ basis. The department also has an exciting programme of weekly one hour research seminars which postgraduate students are strongly encouraged to attend..

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