Forensic Taphonomy - SE815

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2020 to 2021
Spring 7 15 (7.5) DR D Finaughty checkmark-circle


This module is fundamental to this MSc where students learn various stages of postmortem decay to human remains, focusing largely on environmental effects—including decomposition in soil and interaction with plants, insects, and other animals. Other topics covered are; PMI methods (time elapsed since death), biotaphonomy, and geotaphonomy.


This module appears in the following module collections.

Contact hours



Spring term

Method of assessment

3000 word essay (60%)
lab notebook (20%)
Poster presentation (20%)

Indicative reading

Haglund, W. D., & Sorg, M. H. (Eds.). (1996). Forensic taphonomy: the postmortem fate of human remains. CRC Press
Haglund, W. D., & Sorg, M. H. (Eds.). (2001). Advances in forensic taphonomy: method, theory, and archaeological perspectives. CRC Press.
Pokines, J., & Symes, S. A. (Eds.). (2013). Manual of forensic taphonomy. CRC Press.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
1. demonstrate a systematic knowledge of how environmental conditions affect human
2. demonstrate a systematic knowledge of how to calculate post-mortem interval (PMI);
3. demonstrate a systematic knowledge of how cultural and social traditions can affect
taphonomic processes.


  1. Credit level 7. Undergraduate or postgraduate masters level module.
  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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