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Human Osteoarchaeology (MSc)

Course Description

Programme description

With human bones representing a major portion of archaeological finds, it’s not surprising that we rely on their analysis to further our understanding of ancient societies.

This programme gives you the skills to work with these archaeological treasures to discover evidence of population structure, biological affinities, cultural behaviour, and patterns of disease in prehistoric and historic civilisations.

You’ll be part of a steadily growing community, as interest in osteoarchaeology expands globally and the discipline takes its place as a vital means of understanding our past.

Combining theoretical learning with hands-on practice, the course provides a grounding in osteoarchaeological method and theory, which will be essential to your handling of specimens recovered from archaeological sites.

Programme structure

Throughout the programme you’ll take part in lectures, seminars and practical work with archaeological skeletal assemblages and reference collections.

You’ll complete six courses:

Analytical Methods in Human Osteology
Bioarchaeological Interpretation
Human Musculoskeletal Anatomy
Practical Osteology
Research Sources and Strategies in Archaeology
Skeletal Pathology

In addition to essays, reports, and practical assessments, you’ll submit a dissertation on a research topic of your choosing.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the programme, you will be able to:

identify and interpret human bone remains from archaeological sites
develop hypothesis testing skills
carry out relevant scientific analyses, often in cooperation with experts in other disciplines
engage in theoretical and methodological discussions relevant to osteoarchaeology
design research strategies based on transferable skills providing a basis for advanced studies (PhD and beyond)

Career opportunities

The programme provides a foundation for further study or your career. Following successful completion of the programme, a large proportion of students continue their studies to PhD level and beyond, and the programme provides the necessary osteological knowledge for PhD study involving human remains.

You may wish to work in mainstream archaeology, or develop a career in museums or archaeological units.

Visit the Human Osteoarchaeology (MSc) page on the University of Edinburgh website for more details!

Student Profiles

Entry Requirements

An undergraduate degree performance at upper 2:1 honours level, 65% or above UK or GPA 3.4 or other international equivalent in a relevant subject, such as archaeology, anthropology, anatomy, medical sciences and related fields. Applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis. No previous knowledge of human osteology is required.

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