• For Entry: September
  • Duration: 12 months
  • School: Science & Engineering
  • Study Mode: Full Time

Advanced training in subject areas germane to professional requirements, which are not available collectively at any other institution in the world.

This one-year degree is designed for students who already hold a first degree (BA or BSc) in Forensic Anthropology or a related subject, and is intended to provide advanced training in subject areas which are germane to current professional requirements, but which are not available collectively at any other institution in the world.

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.

Recent mass fatality incidents have highlighted the requirement for national and international disaster victim identification (DVI) capability, and cemented the forensic anthropologist’s role as a significant component within the multi-disciplinary response facility.

Traditionally the forensic anthropologist has dealt with human skeletal remains resulting from unexplained deaths; this professional definition is unrealistically restrictive given the multi-disciplinary nature of the demands of human identification in the twenty-first century. In particular 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.

Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification

This course is taught within the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification (CAHID) and is located in the Medical Sciences Institute at the University of Dundee, Scotland.

Professor Sue Black heads the Centre. She was awarded an OBE for her International Human Identification work from mass graves and co-authored Developmental Juvenile Osteology and The Juvenile Skeleton.

The Centre’s award-winning staff are among the most experienced in the UK in the fields of human identification, forensic anthropology, craniofacial identification and the study of the human body.  Additionally, all of the forensic anthropology staff who run and teach on this course work on live cases. They are also accredited to FA I – the highest level of accreditation possible in the UK.

The core remit of the Centre is the study of anatomy. The Centre delivers high quality anatomy teaching at all levels, via whole body dissection which allows students to develop a sound knowledge of the human body. The Centre relies on the generosity of donors for the ability to teach students to the highest standard possible.

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 sought after in the country.

Aims of the Programme

The aim of this programme is to provide training in anatomically-based forensic anthropology, and specifically to provide advanced training in musculoskeletal anatomy, juvenile osteology, comparative forensic osteology and DVI training.

Specialist teaching is undertaken by case-active forensic practitioners. 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.

How you will be taught

A variety of teaching methods will be used, including lectures, practical and project work, the use of textbooks and other self-study material, and activities to develop transferable and subject-specific skills.

How you will be assessed

A variety of assessment methods will be employed including practical spot exams, online assessment and traditional essay based examination.

What you will study

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.

Human Gross Anatomy 1 (Semester 1) and Human Gross Anatomy 2 (Semester 2):

  • Provides the opportunity to conduct whole body dissection, with particular emphasis on functional and musculoskeletal anatomy
  • Exposure to human form and function with direct relevance to the identification process
  • Only institution in the UK offering the opportunity to dissect cadavers which have been embalmed using the Thiel soft-fix method, which provides life-like preservation of the soft tissues.

Developmental Juvenile Osteology (Semester 2):

  • Focuses on the development of the human juvenile skeleton as a means to understanding adult skeletal form
  • Through practical examination, each bone of the body will be studied from its embryological origin, through key developmental milestones, until the attainment of its adult form
  • Practical sessions will focus on the unique Scheuer collection of juvenile skeletal remains.

Forensic Anthropology as Expert Evidence (Semester 1)

Covering the role of the expert witness in relation to more specialised skills such as forensic anatomy, trauma analysis and age estimation in the living this module will cover the skills required to present your analyses in a court of law.

Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) training (Semesters 1 & 2):

  • 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
  • Delivers a robust theoretical underpinning for anyone undertaking DVI work on a practical basis.

MSc Research Project (Semester 3):

  • Students will undertake an advanced level practical project supervised by a research-active practitioner
  • CAHID staff have significant experience in many areas of forensic human identification, including juvenile osteology, facial anthropology, facial reconstruction, age assessment in the living and dead, analysis of sexual dimorphism and ancestry, soft tissue biometric systems, human provenance, skeletal pathology and trauma, and virtual anthropology

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 degree will train individuals to be competent in specialist areas of anatomy and forensic anthropology.

Anne Drury, MSc Anatomy & Advanced Forensic Anthropology

“The MSc in Anatomy and Advanced Forensic Anthropology is definitely a good balance between the two disciplines. A lot of the material for various modules overlaps, so I feel that I’ve gained a very cohesive perspective of these subjects. As a student at CAHID, I was always aware that members of staff are still highly active in the field of forensic anthropology casework. People here are constantly involved in projects that have a positive impact on society, and the academics you learn from and work with, really are at the forefront of their fields. I’m very excited about life after university. The department helped me to secure a five week placement at the Netherlands Forensic Institute, based at The Hague. It’s a great opportunity and I really appreciate that the department takes the time to help graduates with their next step.”

Jared Divido, MSc Anatomy & Advanced Forensic Anthropology

“I felt very at home from the moment I arrived at the University of Dundee. Since I became a student at CAHID, I’ve gained invaluable practical knowledge of forensic casework, as well as a good understanding of aspects of disaster victim identification and comparative osteology. The opportunity to learn from internationally respected professionals in this field has been truly remarkable and the small class sizes ensure that you are recognised as an individual within the department.”

A degree at 2:1 or above (or equivalent) in osteology, physical anthropology, forensic anthropology, anatomy or a related subject. Alternatively an ability to demonstrate considerable experience in a relevant field will be required.

 EU and International qualifications

English Language Requirement

IELTS Overall 6.5
Listening 5.5
Reading 5.5
Writing 6.0
Speaking 5.5

 Equivalent grades from other test providers


English Language Programmes

We offer Pre-Sessional and Foundation Programme(s) throughout the year. These are 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.

 Discover our English Language Programmes

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 statusFees for students starting 2017/18
Scottish and EU students £15,950 per year of study
Rest of UK students £15,950 per year of study
See our scholarships for UK/EU applicants
Overseas students (non-EU) £17,950 per year of study
See our scholarships for international applicants

You apply for this course via the UCAS Postgraduate (UKPASS) website which is free of charge. You can check the progress of your application online and you can also make multiple applications.

You'll need to upload relevant documents as part of your application. Please read the How to Apply page before you apply to find out about what you'll need.

  Degree Course Code
Apply NowAnatomy & Advanced Forensic Anthropology MScP048738

Course Contact

Dr Lucina Hackman
Centre for Anatomy & Human Identification
+44 (0)1382 386311