Human Skeletal Biology - ANTB6280

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2023 to 2024
Autumn Term 5 15 (7.5) Simon Chapple checkmark-circle


The study of the human skeletal system is basic to the disciplines of biological anthropology and human biology. 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 and human biology hat 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.
• Evaluation of major research studies 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


Optional to BSc Anthropology
Compulsory to BSc Biological Anthropology
BSc Human Biology and Behaviour (and cognate year abroad/professional
practice programs)

Method of assessment

Lab Quiz 1 15%
Lab Quiz 2 15%
Lab Report (3000 wrd) 70%*
*This element is pass compulsory and must be passed to achieve the learning outcomes of the module.

Reassessment method:
100% coursework

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-
White, T.D., Black, M.T., Folkins, P.A. 2012 Human Osteology 3nd Ed. Academic Press

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will demonstrate:
8.1. An 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 research in biological anthropology and human biology.

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 the scientific study of humans today.

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

8.5. Evaluation of new research in the field of human skeletal biology.


  1. Credit level 5. Intermediate level module usually taken in Stage 2 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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