Forensic Anthropology MSc

  • For Entry: September
  • Duration: 1 year
  • School: Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification (CAHID)

The MSc Forensic Anthropology is designed to equip students with the skills necessary for the analysis and identification of human skeletal remains. The one-year degree is uniquely designed for students who already hold a degree in a relevant biomedical science and wish to pursue further study in Forensic Anthropology.

Why study Forensic Anthropology at Dundee?

Forensic anthropology is the analysis of human remains for the medico-legal purpose of establishing identity. The discipline has adopted a pivotal role in UK and International investigations in cases of inter-personal violence and homicide, repatriation, mass disasters and war crimes.

Our course provides you with training in dedicated laboratory areas with exclusive access to the unique skeletal collections in the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identfication (CAHID). The programme offers a unique mix of theoretical subject matter combined with hands on practical experience which is delivered by case active academic staff who are world leaders in the field.

Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification

This course is taught within Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification (CAHID). The award winning staff of CAHID are among the most experienced in the UK in the fields of human identification, forensic anthropology, cranio-facial reconstruction and the study of the human body. The Centre is regularly contacted for advice and input in high-profile forensic cases both at home and abroad and all staff who run and teach on the courses are accredited at FA I - the highest level of accreditation possible in the UK. The cases involving our staff inform much of the research undertaken by the Centre. This enables us to maintain a high profile within the forensic community.

The Centre was awarded a prestigious Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher Education in November 2013. Presented in recognition of 'world class excellence', the Queen's Anniversary Prizes are among the most highly-regarded awards for the UK's universities and colleges.

Top 10 reasons to study Forensic Anthropology at Dundee

  1. Only institution in the UK to offer a career progression pathway in Forensic Anthropology
  2. Opportunity to review forensic case work undertaken by CAHID staff
  3. Teaching by world leading forensic practitioners
  4. Access to several unique skeletal collections
  5. Opportunity to act as an expert witness in simulated courtroom exercises
  6. We teach and train towards RAI accreditation standards following the approved Forensic Anthropology curriculum
  7. Multidisciplinary approach with excellent links across subject boundaries
  8. Access to cases from CAHID's virtual anthropology communication service
  9. Regular programme of seminars delivered by invited speakers from the UK and abroad
  10. Diversity of career opportunities – our graduates work in a variety of related fields

Who should study this course?

This taught programme is intended for students graduating from relevant biomedical science subjects who wish to extend their specialist knowledge within the field of forensic anthropology and/or who wish to pursue a career in the forensic sciences in the UK or abroad.

The programme will be taught through a combination of face-to-face lectures and on-line learning resources as well as a large practical involving direct examination of the adult human skeleton.

Course Structure

This is a one year full time taught Masters programme in which all modules are compulsory. The research dissertation can be in the form of original laboratory research in an area pertinent to anatomy and forensic anthropology.

Forensic Osteology (20 Credits)

This module will act as a concise introduction to forensic identification from the skeleton. Detailed adult cranial and postcranial osteology will be introduced to establish baseline knowledge for subsequent aspects of this module. Determination of human and non-human gross morphological features will be introduced and will enable the student to understand the importance of making this distinction. The module will introduce and consider the assessment of the four standard biological parameters of sex, age, ancestry and stature. Particular emphasis will be placed on skeletal aging and this biological parameter will be considered from both an adult and a juvenile perspective. Students will also be introduced to the various methods of recording information when dealing with forensic osteological material.

Peri and Post mortem processes (20 credits)
The module will introduce students to the operational and theoretical framework of forensic investigation in the peri- and post-mortem periods; this will introduce areas such as death investigation, forensic archaeology and body recovery from simple to complex fatality scenes and burial environments (including mass graves), estimation of time-since-death and post-mortem interval from, forensic taphonomy, and the analysis of peri- and post-mortem trauma.

Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) training (20 credits)
This online module provides a thorough understanding of the DVI process in the UK and abroad. Developed by experienced practitioners, it is based on the National DVI Training course for the UK DVI team. (Optional module, can be substituted with research methods)

Research Methods (20 credits)

This module will provide students with an awareness of current research in the fields of human identification, and the underlying developments on which this research is based. The module will also provide students with the ability to choose, design and develop their own dissertation. (Optional module, can be substituted with disaster victim identification)

Forensic Human Identification (20 credits)
This module aims to introduce students to current practice in Forensic Human Identification (FHI) as applied by Forensic Anthropologists. The subject encompasses the analysis of markers of biological identity and personal identity, combining the two into a coherent framework for identification and individuation. Biological Identity is considered to be those principle parameters which make up the standard 'biological profile' (sex, age, ancestry and stature), whereas markers of personal identity encompass a gamut of biological, physiological or cultural markers which are considered unique to an individual, Unique markers may include DNA, fingerprints, dentition, and highly individualizing skeletal traits such as numbered surgical implants, ante-mortem trauma, trabecular bone structure, or frontal sinus morphology

Forensic Science and the Law (20 credits)
This unit aims to provide a comprehensive background to the framework of forensic science and the legal profession. The module aims to provide a broad knowledge of police structure, criminal investigation, scene of crime investigation, medico-legal procedures and their relevance to the criminal justice system, as well as contextualising current forensic scientific practice (including CSI, forensic anthropology, and human identification) within the UK and European legal systems. The unit aims to provide a cogent explanation of what constitutes an expert witness, and what are the methodological, practical and conceptual boundaries of forensic science evidence considered admissible under English, Scottish and US law.

Developmental Juvenile Osteology (20 credits)
This module focuses upon the development of the human juvenile skeleton as a means to understanding adult skeletal form. This is a particularly complex area for forensic investigations and requires considerable knowledge of skeletal development. This will involve use of the unique Scheuer collection of juvenile skeletal remains housed within CAHID.

Research Project (60 credits)
Independent research project in an area of forensic anthropology supervised by a forensically active member of academic staff.

Assessments will take the form of in-course essays, paper appraisal and presentation exercises in addition to final degree examinations and MSc research dissertation.

There is a significant requirement for anatomically-trained forensic anthropologists who are competent in dealing with both soft and hard tissues in order to fulfil the requirements of DVI deployment. This course will greatly increase the professional employment characteristics of any student undertaking it who seeks a career in forensic anthropology, forensic osteology or DVI.

Where are our graduates now?

Previous graduates in Forensic Anthropology have progressed to become teachers and researchers in the field with some going on to provide their skills and services on both the national and international forensic front.

Some of our graduates have gone on to pursue careers in biomedical research, scene of crime analysis, forensic science, human biology and osteological research.

Many have chosen to enter a degree in medicine or dentistry and have found that the skills they have acquired in Forensic Anthropology stand them in good stead, particularly with regards to radiology, paediatrics, gerontology and orthopaedics.

Year of Entry: 2015

Entry Requirements: An honours degree at 2:1 or above (or equivalent) in a relevant biomedical science, or an ability to demonstrate considerable experience in a relevant field.

EU and International students visit our EU and International webpages for entry requirements tailored to your home country.

English Language Requirement

IELTS of 6.5 (or equivalent), if your first language is not English.

Please check our English language requirements page for details of equivalent grades from other test providers, and information about the University of Dundee English language courses.


English Language Pre-Sessional Programmes

We offer Pre-Sessional programmes throughout the year and Foundation Programme(s) for both undergraduate and postgraduate students which start at the beginning of the academic year.  These programmes are all designed to prepare you for university study in the UK when you have not yet met the language requirements for direct entry onto a degree programme.  Successful completion of these programmes guarantees progression to various degrees at the University of Dundee as long as you hold a relevant offer.

The 30 week (one Academic Year) Foundation Programme(s) allow applicants who have not met our typical academic entry requirements, and require additional English Language support by up to 1.0 IELTS, to gain the necessary qualifications to enter the University of Dundee degree programmes in the following year.

The 24 week Pre-Sessional programme (March – August) provides additional English Language tuition for students who do not meet our minimum English Language requirements by up to 1.0 IELTS and the 10 week Pre-Sessional programme  (June – August) (October – December) provides specialist English Language tuition for students who are 0.5 IELTS below the requirement for their degree programme.

There have been many changes to the arrangements for funding students entering higher education in recent years, yet a degree from the University of Dundee, with its high rate of employment success, remains a cost-effective option.

The fees you pay will depend on your fee status. Your fee status is determined by us using the information you provide on your application. Find out more about fee status.

Fee categoryFees for students starting 2015/16
Scottish students £15,950 per year of study
See our scholarships for UK/EU applicants
Rest of UK students £15,950 per year of study
See our scholarships for UK/EU applicants
EU students £15,950 per year of study
See our scholarships for UK/EU applicants
Overseas students (non-EU) £15,950 per year of study
See our scholarships for international applicants

Please read the Postgraduate "How to Apply" section for information on how to upload relevant documents to UKPASS before proceeding with your application.

Apply online via UKPASS

Course Contact

Dr Craig Cunningham
Centre for Anatomy & Human Identification
+44 (0)1382 388351