Forensic Anthropology - ANTB6090

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2021 to 2022
Spring Term 6 15 (7.5) Chris Deter checkmark-circle


This module examines the contribution of biological anthropology to the study of forensic science and provides students with a detailed understanding of the methods and theory of forensic anthropology. We cover topics such as biological profiling, field excavation and recovery, forensic taphonomy, identity, trauma and expert witness testimony. By the end of this module students will know how biological anthropology is applied in a forensic arena, and understand how human remains are recovered and analysed.

Students are introduced to concepts applied in forensic anthropology. Students learn how to correctly excavate a burial and recover human remains. Students are introduced to environmental factors influencing crime scene recovery and skeletal material and will learn about the importance of other forensic specialities such as forensic entomology, palynology, sedimentology and odontology. They are introduced to forensic anthropological recovery on a local scale and in mass disaster situations. Students also acquire an understanding of the role of a forensic anthropologist in the courtroom.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 24

Private study hours: 126

Total study hours: 150


BSc Anthropology
BSc Biological Anthropology
Available as an elective module

Method of assessment

Expert Witness Lab Report (25%)
Mock Trial and Report (25%)
Online Multiple Choice Questions (10%)
Examination, 2 hour (40%)

Reassessment: Like for Like

Indicative reading

Black, S., Sunderland, G, Hackman, L. & Mallet, X., (2011), Disaster Victim Identification: Experience and Practice (Global Perspectives on Disaster Victim Identification), CRC Press

Burns, K. R. (1999). Forensic anthropology training manual. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall.

Haglund, W. D., & Sorg, M. H. (Eds.). (1996). Forensic taphonomy: the postmortem fate of human remains. CRC Press.

Thompson, T., & Black, S. (Eds.). (2006). Forensic human identification: An introduction. CRC Press

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
8.1 Critically apply anthropological methods in a legal setting.
8.2 Employ the methods used to build a biological profile, forensic taphonomy, disaster victim identification, and understand how these data are utilised to answer specific medico-legal questions.
8.3 Relate ethical thinking with working with human remains within the legal system.
8.4 Evaluate critically new research methods in the field of forensic anthropology.
8.5 Demonstrate a systematic understanding of the crime scene to court process.


  1. Credit level 6. Higher level module usually taken in Stage 3 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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