Forensic Anthropology BSc (Hons)

  • For Entry: September
  • Duration: 4 years
  • School: Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification (CAHID)

Forensic anthropology serves the investigative and judicial communities by analysing human remains for medicolegal purposes.

It has adopted a pivotal role in both UK and international investigations being core to issues of repatriation, mass disasters and war crimes.

Why study Forensic Anthropology at Dundee?

Since 2004 the University of Dundee has offered the first undergraduate degree programme in forensic anthropology in the UK. We are home to the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification (CAHID), a centre which is regularly contacted for advice and input in high-profile identification cases both at home and abroad.

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.

What exactly is Forensic Anthropology?

Forensic Anthropology is best described as the analysis of human remains for the medicolegal purposes of establishing identity. It's a specialised area of science that requires detailed anatomical and osteological training. Being able to assign a name to the deceased is critical to the successful outcome of all legal investigations, and this becomes increasingly complex as the body passes through the various transitional phases of decomposition.

The course is centred around human anatomy as the identification of the deceased relies heavily on not only hard tissue but also soft tissue information. A complex subject such as identification requires a multidisciplinary approach that demands free collaboration with many other fields of research and teaching including medical and dental disciplines, biomedical sciences, environmental sciences, law and imaging analysis.

What's so good about Forensic Anthropology at Dundee?

Teaching staff delivering the course have national and international reputations, and several have practical experience of working in conflict zones including Kosovo, Sierra Leone and Iraq. The cases in which our staff have involvement are reflected in much of the research undertaken by the Centre, enabling it to maintain a high profile within the forensic community. In turn, this research feeds into our teaching, particularly at levels 3 and 4.

One of our most well-known members of staff is Professor Sue Black, who has recently been featured on BBC 2's History Cold Case, after finding proof of an African presence in medieval England.

The Medical School is part of the Ninewells Hospital and it is a wonderful opportunity for us students to be able to go on wards, ask for advice from doctors, see patients from the very beginning of our studies. The curriculum at Dundee Medical School suits my learning style perfectly and I am so glad I am a Medical student at the University of Dundee!

Related Courses

This course is taught by staff based in the College of Life Sciences (levels 1 and 2) and the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification (CAHID) (levels 3 and 4).

There are regular meetings of staff-student liaison committees. While this provides a forum for formal contact, there is also opportunity for informal contact between you and academic staff, whom you will find friendly and approachable.

We use a variety of teaching methods, with lectures and practicals forming the core. In addition, we use workshops, tutorials, computer-aided learning, and field excursions, as appropriate to each module.

ypical Degree Programme

Levels 1 and 2

Our programme in Forensic Anthropology shares common core modules in Levels 1 and 2 from the College of Life Sciences. From Level 3 onwards you will follow specialised modules for BSc Forensic Anthropology within the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification (CAHID). The Level 1 and 2 curriculum provides a general introduction to the life sciences through an integrated programme of lectures, tutorials, practical work and field excursions.

Please refer to the Biological/Biomedical Sciences degree structure and overview webpage for details of the common curriculum in Levels 1 and 2.

Modules specific to Forensic Anthropology include:

  • Human Form and Function - examines the relationships between structure and function in the human body.
  • Introduction to Human Anatomy - introduces you to the principles of the dynamics and topography of human form, particularly in relation to the skeletal system.
Level 3

At Level 3 you will specialise in the following subject areas:

  • gross anatomy
  • human osteology
  • comparative osteology

Practical human anatomy is a substantial component of the Level 3 programme.

You will:

  • begin to appreciate the intimate relationships between human form and function
  • acquire a detailed understanding of the anatomy of the human body
  • be able to identify individual skeletal elements and begin to formulate an educated opinion on their origin (human or nonhuman) and their stage of development (i.e. age at death)

Summer work placements

Many students take advantage of opportunities for summer work placements, normally between Levels 3 and 4, which are available as externally-funded competitive placements, or as voluntary laboratory work.

Level 4

Your studies at Level 4 will be at the level of current research in your chosen subject area.

  • sex determination from human remains
  • age determination from human remains
  • biological identity
  • personal identity
  • pathology and trauma
  • time death interval
  • police, the law and the mortuary

Your studies will involve extensive use of scientific literature and the opportunity to attend a regular programme of seminars given by invited speakers from Britain and abroad.

  • Research project - several formats are available including laboratory-based research under the supervision of a leading scientist, computer modelling, multimedia teaching packages, literature and electronic database review.

All modules are assessed by a combination of in-course and end-of-course procedures. Regular in-course assessments (e.g. practical reports, computer-based exercises, essays and data processing exercises) provide feedback on your progress and help you prepare for end-of-module examinations.

On-line assignments are used extensively at Levels 1 and 2, with access via a PC on or off campus. Peer assessment operates in many team projects.

As a graduate in forensic anthropology you will have an excellent grounding for a career in biomedical research, scene of crime analysis, forensic science, human biology and osteological research. Those who choose to enter a degree in medicine will find that the skills they have acquired will stand them in good stead, particularly with regards to radiology, paediatrics, gerontology and orthopaedics.

Some graduates may, of course, choose to progress to become teachers and researchers in the field of forensic anthropology or to provide their skills and services on both the national and international forensic front. This BSc degree programme provides the first stage in the Forensic Anthropology Career Foundation Path offered by this University. Your communication and transferable skills will be widely recognised and valued by a wide range of employers.

The following are the minimum requirements, please note qualifications have to be obtained at the first sitting of examinations.

Please note that the entry requirements in our printed prospectus may be subject to change. The entry requirements listed below are up to date and should be referred to in case of any discrepancy.

Courses starting September 2015

Level 1 Entry

Qualification Minimum Grade Typical Grade
SQA Higher AABB AABB
GCE A-Level
ILC Higher AABB
IB Diploma 30 points (including 5, 5, 5 at Higher Level)
Essential Subjects Biology and Chemistry (Higher, ILC Higher, IB Higher Level) plus Mathematics and Chemistry (Standard Grade at 3, Intermediate 2/National 5 at C, ILC Ordinary Level at C or IB Subsidiary Level at 4)
EU & International Visit our Your Country webpages for entry requirements tailored to your home country
Other Qualifications
SQA A relevant HNC with A in the Graded Unit with appropriate Science units
Scottish Baccalaureate
SWAP Access Relevant science subjects with AAA grades to include Chemistry and Biology/Human Biology at SCQF Level 6
EDEXCEL A relevant BTEC Extended Diploma with DDM
Advanced Diploma Grade B with ASL-A Level at B
Welsh Baccalaureate Pass with A Levels at BB
European Baccalaureate 70% overall

Courses starting September 2015

Advanced Entry (to Level 2)

Qualification Grade
SQA Advanced Higher AB (Advanced Higher) + BB (Higher) in different subjects
GCE A-Level AAB
IB Diploma 34 points (including 6, 6, 5 at Higher Level)
Essential Subjects Biology and Chemistry (AH or A-Level or IB Higher level) plus Mathematics (Standard Grade at 3, Intermediate 2/National 5 at C, GCSE at C, or IB Subsidiary Level at 4)
EU & International Visit our Your Country webpages for entry requirements tailored to your home country
Other Qualifications
SQA A relevant HND with AA in the Graded Units with appropriate Science units
Scottish Baccalaureate Distinction with AB at AH Biology and Chemistry. Mathematics at SG (grade 3) or Intermediate 2 (grade C)
SWAP Access
EDEXCEL A relevant HND with Merits in appropriate Science modules
Advanced Diploma Grade A with ASL-A Level at B
Welsh Baccalaureate Pass with A Levels at AA
European Baccalaureate 75% overall

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, in most cases, depend on your current country of residence.

The fee shown is annual, and may be subject to an increase each year.

Fee categoryFees for students starting September 2015
Scottish students £1,820 per year of study (for Sept 2014 entry). Fees for September 2015 will be confirmed by the Scottish Government in early 2015.
Rest of UK students £9,000 per year, for a maximum of 3 years, even if you are studying a four year degree. See our scholarships for rest of UK applicants."
EU students £1,820 per year of study (for Sept 2014 entry). Fees for September 2015 will be confirmed by the Scottish Government in early 2015.
Overseas students (non-EU) £15,950 per year of study. See our scholarships for international applicants."

Scottish and EU students can apply to the Students Award Agency for Scotland (SAAS) to have tuition fees paid by the Scottish Government.

Rest of the UK students can apply for financial assistance, including a loan to cover the full cost of the tuition fees, from the Student Loan Company.

Your personal statement should demonstrate an interest in the subject you are applying for and a commitment to the study of that subject. How did your interest in the subject arise, and do you have a particular career path in mind?

You should comment on your participation in both school/college/work and extracurricular activities and on the extent to which they have aided in your personal development and the acquisition of skills that will be of value to you as a life sciences student.

  • Do you have an enquiring mind?
  • Do you have good analytical skills and problem-solving ability?
  • Are you self-motivated and able to work independently?
  • Are you a good team player?
  • Do you have good communication skills?

If you are planning a gap year, comment on the intended activity and the benefits that you think you are likely to gain from the experience.

Give careful consideration to both the style and content of your personal statement as it can be an indicator of your ability to communicate as well as providing an account of your personal achievements and skills.

Please apply via UCAS



Degree UCAS Code KIS Data
Forensic Anthropology BSc (Hons)FL46