Bodies of Evidence - Skeletal Changes Before & After Death: There's an emphasis on skeletonised remains and interpreting material from forensic contexts and the unit will be relevant to archaeological material and consider soft tissue remains. It will also look at the changes that take place during an individual’s life and after death that produce variations in the nature and appearance of the skeleton. You'll learn about ways skeletal samples can be investigated statistically at the level of populations, and ways of report writing.
Crime Scene Management & Forensic Science: Understand the developing nature of crime scene, major incident and disaster management and how expertise from a range of disciplines is applied to analyse crime scenes. This unit provides an introduction to national and international criminal law and humanitarian and human rights law. It also covers the structure of the Police Force and scene of crime protocols, within which forensic scientists operate and is delivered through lectures and practical exercises to demonstrate and test the processes of crime scene control and emergency management.
Human Functional Anatomy: Gain detailed knowledge of human musculoskeletal anatomy that emphasises a functional approach to identifying and describing human remains, intact and fragmented, recovered from archaeological and forensic contexts. You'll develop proficiency in distinguishing morphological variation, gain a working knowledge of human functional anatomy and learn about biomechanical approaches to human movement.
Principles & Methods in Human Osteology: An introduction to the basic principles of analysis and interpretation involved in studying skeletal remains of modern humans from archaeological and forensic contexts. This covers biological profiling from the skeleton. You'll also be introduced to skeletal anatomy, the sub-adult skeleton and the dentition and differences between human and non-human animal bone.
Professional Practice in Forensic Science: Develop the experience, theoretical understanding and practical skills necessary for presenting subject specific material to the courts. Gain expert witness and courtroom skills, learn about legal and practical aspects of evidence and develop an understanding of pre-trial duties, courtroom procedures, lawyers’ requirements and preparing and structuring the expert witness’ report. You'll be trained in courtroom skills and practical exercises involving simulated forensic investigations. Simulations are tailored to each degree taking the unit. As an anthropologist, you'll undertake the only simulated mass grave exercise currently offered on a UK Master's programme.
Research Project: Develop your expertise in research methods, data collection, analysis, interpretation and synthesis, and explore in detail core aspects of your subject area to generate new practical or theoretical insights. You'll develop methodological, research, presentation and advanced communication skills by producing an extensive dissertation or report on your research.
Option units (choose one):
Please note that option units require minimum numbers in order to run and may change from year to year.
Forensic Archaeology: Explore the principles, techniques and methodologies of Traditional Archaeological practices adapted for forensic contexts. Stratigraphy, remote sensing, geophysical survey, search, location, recovery and dating techniques are covered. These methods are applied to forensic scenes through a series of domestic and international case studies. You'll also explore techniques for excavating single and mass graves.
Techniques of Archaeological Recovery & Recording: Take part in field work exercises and practical demonstrations to gain grounding in the principal range of methods involved in archaeological field recording and recovery. You'll learn the principles of location, survey, excavation, planning and recording of archaeological finds and features. You will also learn about the planning of field projects, including health & safety and budgeting.
Programme specifications provide definitive records of the University's taught degrees in line with Quality Assurance Agency requirements. Every taught course leading to a BU Award has a programme specification which describes its aims, structure, content and learning outcomes, plus the teaching, learning and assessment methods used.
Download the programme specification for MSc Forensic Anthropology.
Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the programme specification, the information is liable to change to take advantage of exciting new approaches to teaching and learning as well as developments in industry. If you have been unable to locate the programme specification for the course you are interested in, it will be available as soon as the latest version is ready. Alternatively please contact us for assistance.
Background and experience
For Forensic Anthropology we are looking for applicants who:
- Are enthusiastic about issues relating to the theory and practice of the application of biological anthropology to forensic investigations
- Are keen on practical learning in a laboratory environment
- Are keen to apply the skills they gain on their degree course to practice in a professional sphere
- Can demonstrate an academic interest and ability in sciences relevant to forensic anthropology by having suitable prior experience and/or qualifications – most likely including archaeology, and/or forensic science
- Can demonstrate an existing interest in the study of human remains by having previous experience of the study of human osteology or anatomy.
We are looking for students who are keen to develop their intellectual skills by gaining a solid grounding in a range of aspects of biological anthropology and its specific application in forensic contexts. We particularly encourage applications from people who have an enthusiasm for developing critical thinking and observational skills and who would like to develop these skills with a view to working within a wider multidisciplinary team. Such qualities comprise transferable skills that appeal to a range of employers. Students on this degree course will typically have backgrounds in archaeology or forensic science.
Applicants are not normally required to attend an interview but are encouraged to arrange an appointment at one of the postgraduate open days in order to make sure the course selected is right for them.
For more information, take a look at our how to apply pages.
Full entry requirements
The normal requirements for embarking upon this course are:
- Possession of a 2:2 degree or equivalent
- For post-experience and professional qualifications, there may be additional entry requirements set by the association or institute that ultimately administers the qualification in question. The qualification description on the course information pages should tell you what these are but please get in touch with the Future Students Enquiry Team if you are in doubt.
If you lack the formal academic qualifications needed to enter a postgraduate or post-experience degree, there are several alternative routes to follow - some based on experience. Contact the Future Students Enquiry Team for more information.
International entry requirements
If English is not your first language, you will need to provide evidence that you can understand English to a satisfactory level. English language requirements for this course are normally:
- IELTS (academic) 6.5 overall with a minimum of 5.5 in each component, or equivalent.
View further information about our English language requirements.
A number of pre-sessional English and preparatory programmes are offered through our partner institution, Bournemouth University International College, and will get you ready for study at BU at the appropriate level.
You can also find further details of the international qualifications we accept, and what level of study they apply to, on our postgraduate entry requirements page.
Most of our Forensic Anthropology graduates embark on a career in teaching or future research, however there are many and varied professional opportunities. Specialist anthropological skills can contribute not only to our understanding of the past, but also to the effective investigation of serious incidents in the modern world such as both natural and man-made mass disasters. Forensic Anthropology graduates can therefore enjoy a wide range of career opportunities in a range of disciplines.
As an MSc Forensic Anthropology graduate, you will be prepared to undertake roles such as:
- Forensic scientist
- Academic researcher.
Industries worked in
- Forensic corporations
- Non-profit organisations
- Non-governmental organisations
If you want to continue your studies after achieving your Master's, you can look into our range of doctoral programmes.
Meet our staff
Dr Martin Smith, the course leader, is a Biological Anthropologist with particular interests in prehistoric populations. His interests centre principally on areas of taphonomy and trauma with relevance to both forensic and archaeological remains. Martin has strong interests in the study of conflict from prehistoric to modern times. A question that continues to fascinate him is the extent to which war /organized conflict is ‘hard-wired’ in human beings rather than simply a practical response to environmental or social circumstances. Ethical questions concerning human remains have become particularly prominent in recent years. Martin has repeatedly involved himself in current debates over the retention of skeletal assemblages and maintains the importance of keeping such collections, as once reburied they are effectively gone forever...
Dr Ellen Hambleton specialises in the study of animal remains. She was Principal Investigator for the review of late Bronze Age and Iron Age faunal remains from Southern England, commissioned by English Heritage and is the co-director of a BU project investigating the social, political and economic landscape of the Durotriges in later Prehistoric and Roman Britain.
You can read more about the staff in the Department of Archaeology, Anthropology & Forensic Science and register now to meet them at an open day.