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

Forensic archaeology and forensic anthropology have adopted a pivotal role in UK and international investigations in cases of inter-personal violence and homicide, repatriation, mass disasters and war crimes


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Forensic archaeology is the application of archaeological skills to the location and recovery of human remains and forensic evidence.  Forensic anthropology is the analysis of human remains for the medico-legal purpose of establishing identity. 

Our MSc Forensic Archaeology and Anthropology course provides students with training in both disciplines in dedicated laboratory areas. You will have exclusive access to the unique skeletal collections in the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification (CAHID). 

You will develop the skills and knowledge required by those who undertake searches for missing people and will be involved in the recovery of remains from clandestine burials. You will also gain the skills required to present evidence as an expert witness in court.

MSc Forensic Archaeology and Anthropology

We offer a mix of theoretical subject matter combined with hands-on experience, and our academic staff are world leaders in the field.

Award-winning staff

Our staff are amongst the most experienced in the UK in the fields of human identification, forensic anthropology, forensic archaeology cranio-facial reconstruction and the study of the human body. We are regularly contacted for advice and input in high-profile forensic cases both at home and abroad. Staff are able to bring this experience into their teaching.

Our students and staff are also involved in forensic research which is informed by casework and is thus relevant and current to modern practice.

Our student feedback reflects the outstanding facilities and teaching collections that are available to support their learning experience.

You will be supervised by a research active member of staff and have the opportunity to pursue an area of research that is of specific interest to you.

Top 10 reasons to study Forensic Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of 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 both the standards set by the 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

How you will be taught

Content delivery will be by a mixture of lectures, tutorials and practical based work, both in the lab and externally. All of the subjects taught have a practical component and the ability to apply theory to practice has always been a strong tradition for all CAHID courses, equipping those attending for the skills for future employment.

Expert witness experience is gained through involvement in a mock trial presided over by skilled legal practitioners.

How you will be assessed

  • in-course essays
  • paper appraisal
  • practical exercises
  • final degree examinations
  • MSc research dissertation


What you'll study

The research dissertation can be in the form of original laboratory research in an area pertinent to forensic archaeology and forensic anthropology.

Forensic Human Osteology (10 credits)

Trauma and Taphonomy (10 credits)

Forensic Archaeology I (20 credits)

Disaster Victim Identification (20 credits)

Forensic Human Identification (20 credits)

Forensic Archaeology 2 (20 credits)

Forensic Science and the Law (20 credits)

Research Project (60 credits)

You will gain a comprehensive background to the framework of forensic science within the law and the role of the expert witness.  A broad knowledge of criminal investigation, scene of crime investigation, medico-legal procedures and their relevance to the criminal justice system will form the core of this module. You will acquire knowledge of the role of the expert witness and the methodological, practical and conceptual boundaries of forensic science evidence.

Gives you an overview of forensic archaeology within major crime investigations. Learn the theoretical principles which underpin the discipline within domestic and international investigative frameworks. We'll discuss taphonomic modification of human remains and forensic evidence, including forensic ecology evidence types.  Learn the techniques of crime scene investigation.

An introduction to forensic identification from the skeleton.

Detailed adult cranial and postcranial osteology: establish baseline knowledge the rest of the module.

Determination of human and non-human gross morphological features. Discover the importance of making this distinction.

Learn how to asses the four standard biological parameters: sex, age, ancestry and stature.

We place particular emphasis will on skeletal aging. We'll consider this biological parameter from both an adult and a juvenile perspective.

You'll also learn various methods of recording information when dealing with forensic osteological material.

The operational and theoretical framework of forensic investigation in the peri- and post-mortem periods.

Discover death investigation, forensic archaeology and body recovery. Examine simple to complex fatality scenes and burial environments (including mass graves). Plus estimation of time-since-death and post-mortem interval from, forensic taphonomy. Analysis of peri- and post-mortem trauma.

Introduction to current practice in Forensic Human Identification (FHI) as applied by Forensic Anthropologists.

Discover the analysis of markers of biological identity and personal identity. Then learn to combine the two into a coherent framework for identification and individuation.

Builds on the skills and knowledge gained in Forensic Archaeology 1. You'll learn search and location techniques which are utilised within major crime investigations including geophysical search methods. Key concepts and practices covered will include:

  • evidence collection
  • photography
  • scene documentation and reporting

You'll also have the opportunity to practice their skills in relation to archaeological excavation and recovery of remains from surface scatter scenes.

  • 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

Exclusive collections

You'll have exclusive access to the unique skeletal collections in the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification (CAHID).

There is a significant international requirement for forensic archaeologists and forensic anthropologists who are competent in dealing with body recovery and identification in order to fulfil the requirements of Disaster Victim Identification deployment. This course will greatly increase the professional employment characteristics of any student undertaking it who seeks a career in forensic anthropology, forensic archaeology or DVI.

Megan Williams

Studying at CAHID is a brilliant opportunity. If you get an offer, you should definitely accept it! You are getting to study within a leading forensic institute and are being taught by staff who are actively working in the field.

Megan Williams

Nicolas Lockyer

I instantly knew that this was where I wanted to study. There are many reasons why I loved my time at the University of Dundee, but one of the main reasons was how inspiring it was to be a part of this centre of excellence.

Nicolas Lockyer

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

 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
See our scholarships for UK/EU applicants
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 NowForensic Archaeology and Anthropology MScP052626

Course Contact

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