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MSc Forensic Anthropology


Course Description

Modern techniques, increasing media interest, and the role that forensic anthropologists are now playing in international investigations of genocide have led to a heightened profile for forensic anthropology in terms of both modern criminal applications and archaeological research on populations from the past. The MSc in Forensic Anthropology is designed to enable graduate students to develop skills in areas which concern the identification, processing and analysis of human skeletal and dental remains, ranging from complete skeletons to mixed and disarticulated elements, to small fragments and cremated and calcined material. The course provides intensive training in developmental anatomy and osteology, forensic anthropology method and theory, forensic taphonomy in theory and practice, crime scene investigation and the law, research methods, and expert witness and presentation skills. Students graduating from this course will be well placed to go on to further research in academia, take up jobs in forensic labs, or to participate in human remains excavations and analysis in forensic, archaeological or humanitarian contexts.

Students on this course will have the chance to learn the current issues and techniques involved in all aspects of human remains recovery and identification. They will gain a detailed knowledge of developmental human skeletal and soft tissue anatomy, have knowledge of modes of decomposition and death, and learn how to approach a body in any condition to learn the most from it. In addition, they will have the chance to develop a large number of transferable skills.

MSc Forensic Anthropology is a one-year taught masters programme consisting of two semesters' coursework and one semester of an original research project. This 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. The MSc in 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. The course provides intensive training in developmental anatomy and osteology, forensic anthropology method 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 (eg UK and US) and forensic anthropology in the context of international humanitarian work and international criminal investigation.

The course is structured into 3 parts :

Part 1 (14 weeks) :
Developmental Anatomy: Covers human embryology and developmental anatomy through the adult form.
Forensic Anthropology: Concerned with methods of identification in the forensic context, utilising a lab-based focus on the estimation of age, sex, stature, and race and the identification of trauma and pathology. Issues in both domestic and international contexts of forensic work will be addressed.
Research Methods: Trains students in a wide range of skills, including technical documentation, project management, data analysis and retrieval, writing and research skills, and library use.

Part 2 (14 weeks) :
Forensic Taphonomy: Covers the process and sequence of human decomposition, as well as the burial and surface dispersal of human remains.
Crime Scene Investigation and the Anthropologist: Concerned with crime scene investigation and the supporting role of the forensic archaeologist and anthropologist at the crime scene and in the mortuary, and the legal framework governing domestic and international investigation procedure.
Expert Witness and Communication: Communication skills providing background and training in expert witness delivery, and the study of British and International Law.

Part 3 (16 weeks) - Research Project :
Every student will undertake a research project, which will use and enhance many of the skills learnt on the course. The project will be based within the university, at a museum, or as an experimental field project. The end result of the research project should be a publishable quality paper. Following the conclusion of the work, the student will give a presentation of their findings.

Course Leader Tal Simmons is a Diplomat of the American Board of Forensic Anthropology. She received her PhD in Anthropology from the University of Tennessee, her MA in Palaeopathology and Funerary Archaeology from Sheffield University, and her BA in Anthropology from Bryn Mawr College. Tal has been a forensic anthropology consultant to law enforcement both within the US and the UK. Among other international consultancies, she has worked as director of the Physicians for Human Rights Forensic Monitoring Project in Bosnia (1997) and as lab director for the Physicians for Human Rights Cyprus Project (1999); in 2000, she was also the senior forensic consultant for the OSCE in Kosovo. Tal has also taught workshops for forensic teams in both Bosnia and Guatemala. Tal’s main research interests are human burial taphonomy, population variation in age estimation techniques, the archaeozoology of birds in the Levant, and modern human origins.

Visit the MSc Forensic Anthropology page on the University of Central Lancashire website for more details!

Entry Requirements

Honours 2:1 in appropriate discipline

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