Human Osteology - ANTB5660

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2022 to 2023.


The study of the human skeletal system is basic to the discipline of biological anthropology. This module will examine the fundamentals of human osteology. Students will learn to identify and analyse human bone and evaluate and interpret major research in biological anthropology that has as its basis the analysis of bone.
Indicative topics are:
• A detailed consideration of the basic properties of bone growth, development, and function in the human body.
• An examination of all major skeletal structures and the morphological features associated with them. The focus will be on the function of these structures within the body as well as the identification of fragmentary remnants of them in a forensic or archaeological context.
• Major techniques used in biological anthropology to analyse human bone, such as estimation of age at death, estimation of biological sex and stature.
• Critical evaluation of major research studies in biological anthropology involving analysis of human bone.
• Consideration of ethical issues in the collection and curation of human bone.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 36

Private study hours: 114

Total study hours: 150


BSc in Biological Anthropology, BSc in Anthropology

Method of assessment

Lab Quiz 1 (15%)
Lab Quiz 2 (15%)
Lab Report (70%)

Reassessment: Like for Like

Indicative reading

Hillson, S. 1996 Dental Anthropology Cambridge University Press

Katzenberg, M.A. and Saunders, S.R. 2000 Biological Anthropology of the Human Skeleton Wiley-Liss

White, T.D. 2000 Human Osteology 2nd Ed. Academic Press.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will demonstrate:

8.1. A comprehensive understanding of the human skeletal system, including the nature and function of bone, the identification of bone and bony fragments in an anthropological context, and the interpretation of morphological features of bone for biological anthropology research.

8.2. Experience with the identification, and analysis of human bone, and understanding of how these data are utilized to answer significant anthropological research questions.

8.3. An understanding of the ethical treatment of human remains in light of major moral and legal dilemmas facing anthropology today.

8.4. Exposure to an anthropological approach to the study of the skeletal structure of humans.

8.5. Critical evaluation of new research in the field of human skeletal biology.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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