Forensic Archaeology: This lecture-based unit explores the principles, techniques and methodologies of traditional archaeological practices when they are adapted to use in forensic contexts. Theoretical and practical concepts of archaeology such as stratigraphy, remote sensing, geophysical survey, search, location, recovery and dating techniques are covered. The application of these methods to forensic scenes is demonstrated through a series of domestic and international case studies. Techniques employed in the excavation of single and mass graves are also explored.
Advanced Forensic Archaeology: An introduction to a range of practical field skills which build on the theory you gained from the Forensic Archaeology unit. You'll develop higher levels of technical knowledge and practical experience in mapping - including using geographical information systems (GIS) - topographical survey, search (including using geophysical surveys) and excavation techniques. There's an emphasis practicing finding and excavating burials and recovering human remains, along with associated forensic evidence and analysis and reporting such evidence.
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 the principles and application of biological profiling from the skeleton. Characteristics covered include age-at death, biological sex, stature and metric and non-metric variation. You'll also get a general introduction to skeletal anatomy, the sub-adult skeleton and the dentition and differences between human and non-human animal bone. The unit functions as a self-contained introduction to human osteology at Master's level which can stand alone or form the foundation for more advanced study of human skeletal remains.
Professional Practice in Forensic Science: Gain the necessary experience, theoretical understanding and practical skills for presenting subject specific material to the courts. You'll become trained in expert witness and courtroom skills, legal and practical aspects of evidence and gain an understanding of pre-trial duties, courtroom procedures, lawyers’ requirements, and preparing and structuring the expert witness’ report. This unit will be delivered through a combination of lectures, training in court room skills and practical exercises involving simulated forensic investigations.
Please note that option units require minimum numbers in order to run and may change from year to year.
You'll choose one of the following units
Human Functional Anatomy: Lectures and laboratory practicals, the use of teaching casts and skeletal material, anatomical drawing hand-outs and anatomy reference sources will develop your osteological and general study skills. Accessing the laboratory outside teaching hours gives you the opportunity to self-direct your learning and to study materials in your own time. The aim of this unit is to enable you to 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. It provides you with proficiency in distinguishing morphological variation and produces a working knowledge of human functional anatomy. This includes considering developmental processes in the human skeleton and understanding biomechanical approaches to human movement.
Marine Environment, Heritage & Spatial Planning: Environmental changes in the marine environment have affected the degradation and preservation of underwater heritage. This unit, which may involve field trips, will help you understand the effect of physical, chemical and biological damage to the historic environment and natural hazards to historical and archaeological sites in coastal and shallow marine environments. After completing this unit, you'll be able to manage in situ degradation and the protection of underwater archaeological sites, and appraise mitigation methods for preserving our underwater cultural heritage in situ.
Principles & Methods in Zooarchaeology: This unit will provide you with a solid basis in the principles of identification of mammals, birds and fish and the recording and analytical methods currently employed in the study of animal bones from archaeological sites. It will also provide you with an appreciation of how animal bone studies are integrated with other aspects of archaeology. You will learn mainly through practical workshops, in which you will further your familiarity with zooarchaeological assemblages and techniques, through the handling of material and by practical exercises based on that material. Case studies will explore how investigations of faunal remains can be integrated within the wider discipline of archaeology.
Techniques of Archaeological Recovery & Recording: Taking part in field work exercises and practical demonstrations gives you grounding in the methods involved in archaeological field recording and recovery. You'll learn about the principles of location, survey, excavation and the planning and recording of archaeological finds and features. You'll also learn about planning field projects, which covers health & safety and budgeting.
And one of the following:
Advanced Zooarchaeology: Your identification skills will be put to practice during this explorative unit of a diverse range of skeletal remains. You will evaluate the potential of archaeological data and consider ways in which you can put together an appropriate programme of post-excavation analysis and design a suitable recording scheme for a selected body of material.
Crime Scene Management: Understand the developing nature of crime scene, major incident and disaster management and how expertise from a range of disciplines is used 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 service and crime scene protocols that forensic scientists operate in, and is delivered through lectures and practical exercises to demonstrate and test the processes of crime scene control and emergency management. We invite experts in the field to speak about their role in crime scene management and investigations, and normally run a joint air-crash practice exercise with Bournemouth Airport.
Humans, Animals & Diet: Gain a detailed understanding of the history of animal exploitation for food and the inter-relationships between humans and animals in different periods and regions. This unit aims to provide you with knowledge of the major developments in animal exploitation in Britain. A number of central themes in zooarchaeological studies will be explored that can be applied to the study of human diets in European, Asian and New World contexts. You will also be developing critical awareness of the range of cultural attitudes towards animals, in different human societies.
- Research Project: Develop your expertise in research methods, data collection, analysis, interpretation and synthesis and explore in detail core aspects of your subject area, with a view to generating new practical or theoretical insights. You will develop methodological, research, presentation skills and advanced communication skills by producing an extensive dissertation or report on your research.
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 Archaeology.
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.
Full entry requirements
The normal requirements for embarking upon this course are:
- A Bachelors Honours degree with 2:2 or equivalent in a required subject
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 with a minimum of 5.5 in each component of writing, speaking, listening and reading 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.
Forensic archaeology is an expanding international field. Upon completion of the course you will join other BU graduates who are acknowledged as some of the most experienced forensic archaeologists in the field. This will open up a wide range of career prospects for you, and you could end up work anywhere in the world examining crime scenes, mass graves & disasters and educating other researchers in new forensic science approaches.
As an MSc Forensic Archaeology graduate, you will be prepared to undertake roles such as:
- Forensic archaeologist
- Human rights investigator
- Police officer
- Medical examiner
Industries worked in
- Forensic organisations
- Police force
- Academic research.
If you want to continue your studies after achieving your Master's, you can look into our range of doctoral programmes.
Meet our staff
Paul Cheetham is the programme leader. Paul has specialised in archaeological geophysics since 1989. He regularly undertakes archaeological geophysical surveys and archaeological excavations of sites of all periods in the UK and Europe; his research is focused on the late Iron Age and Romano-British settlement in Dorset. Paul is a co-director of the Durotriges Project.
He has worked on over 50 domestic homicide cases in a search and recovery capacity, and has been involved in locating mass graves in Kosovo, Iraq and Ukraine. He has published a number of papers on search and recovery techniques in forensic contexts.
You can find out more about Paul's research interests online, or contact him by email: email@example.com