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Medical Sciences Institute


Dr Diana Swales is the Programme Lead for the MSc Forensic Archaeology and Anthropology and Lecturer in Forensic Archaeology. Her teaching principally focuses on forensic archaeology at MSc level but she also contributes topics in forensic taphonomy, osteology, skeletal pathology, and torture and abuse for BSc and MSc modules. She supervises BSc and MSc dissertations in these subject areas.

She holds a BA(Hons) in Archaeology and Prehistory (2001), an MSc in Human Osteology and Funerary Archaeology (2002), and PhD (a bio-cultural study of the Saxon-Norman Black Gate cemetery, Newcastle-upon-Tyne) (2013) from the University of Sheffield.

Since 2002, she has worked as an osteoarchaeologist in both the commercial and academic sectors initially for Oxford Archaeology then as a freelance specialist. Her experience includes the excavation and post-excavation analysis of various burial contexts including Bronze Age flexed burials, Iron Age burial grounds, large scale Roman inhumation and cremation cemeteries, post-medieval church crypts, cathedral burials, Roman and Medieval mass graves and emancipated African slaves from the island of Saint Helena. 

From the completion of her PhD in 2013 Dr Swales was employed as the Demonstrator in Human Osteology in the Department of Archaeology and Tutor on the Foundation Programme in the Department for Lifelong Learning at the University of Sheffield. She joined the University of Dundee as Lecturer in Forensic Archaeology in January 2017.

Dr Swales’ research interests are focused on osteoarchaeology, biological anthropology, palaeopathology and the nature and formation of burial environments in both archaeological and forensic contexts. Her current areas of research include the formation processes of mass graves and the manifestation, impacts of, and cultural and clinical responses to, the chronic effects of degenerative joint disease in societies past and present.

Dr Swales undertakes casework in Scotland including the recovery of human remains from investigations of suspicious death, clandestine burials and fire scenes, as well as the search for missing persons. 

Dr Swales is a Member of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (MCIfA) and Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London (FSA).