Forensic Anthropology - SE609

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2018-19 2019-20
Canterbury Autumn
View Timetable
6 15 (7.5) DR GE Fahy


SE302- Foundations of Biological Anthropology


Stage 3 students ONLY



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.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

24 hours


Optional module for BSc in Biological Anthropology and BSc in Anthropology.
Also available as a Wild Module for other programmes

Method of assessment

Coursework (60%):
Assignment 1 (25%): Expert witness laboratory report
Students produce an expert witness report that will assess knowledge of methods used to build a biological profile, possible cause of death and demonstrate application of problem solving in the forensic analysis of human remains.
Assignment 2 (25%): Mock trail: a forensic anthropologist as an expert witness.
The mock trial relates to evidence individually gathered during the laboratory practical and is based on the student's expert witness laboratory reports. Students are separated into groups to act as defence, prosecution and expert witness.
Assignment 3 (10%): Online MCQ: vocabulary & definitions.
An in-class MCQ quiz student knowledge on vocabulary, terminology and definitions essential in forensic anthropology.

Summer term exam (40%):
The end of year exam will assess the student knowledge and understanding of relevant topics and theories in forensic anthropology.

Preliminary reading

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

Learning outcomes

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 an understanding of the crime scene to court process.
9.1 Critically assess and analyse peer reviewed journals and books.
9.2 Communicate information though the development of writing skills, presentation skills.
9.3 Learn effective time management and preparation.
9.4 Organise information in a clear and concise way.
9.5 Develop basic laboratory skills.
9.6 Correctly apply methods and techniques learned.

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