• For Entry: September
  • Duration: 4 years
  • School: Science & Engineering
  • Study Abroad: No
  • Study Mode: Full Time

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.

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.

Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification (CAHID)

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.

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 following are the minimum, up-to-date entry requirements.

Courses starting 2017
Qualification Level 1 Entry Advanced Entry to Level 2
SQA Higher/Advanced Higher BBBB (minimum) - AABB (typical) at Higher including biology, plus mathematics and chemistry (Standard Grade at 3 or National 5/Intermediate2 at C) AB at Advanced Higher including biology, plus BB at Higher in different subjects, plus mathematics (Standard Grade at 3 or National 5/Intermediate2 at C)
GCE A-Level BCC (minimum) - BBB (typical) including A-Level biology, plus GSCE mathematics and chemistry at C BBB (minimum) - ABB (typical) including A-Level biology, plus GCSE mathematics and chemistry at C
Irish Leaving Certificate (ILC) AABB including biology at Higher Level, plus Ordinary Level mathematics and chemistry at C Level 2 entry is not possible with this qualification
International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma 30 points at Higher Level grades 5, 5, 5 to include biology, plus Standard Level mathematics and chemistry at 4.
A combination of IB Certificate plus other qualifications, such as A-Levels, Advanced Placement Tests or the International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme (IBCP), will also be considered.
34 points at Higher Level grades 6, 6, 5 to include biology, plus Standard Level mathematics and chemistry at grade 4
Graduate Entry
BTEC A relevant BTEC Extended Diploma with DDM A relevant BTEC Extended Diploma with DDD
SQA Higher National (HNC/HND) A relevant HNC with B in the graded unit with appropriate Science units A relevant HND with AA in the graded units with appropriate Science units
Scottish Baccalaureate Distinction with AB at AH Biology. Mathematics at SG (grade 3) or Intermediate 2 (grade C)
SWAP Access Relevant science subjects with AAA to include Biology/Human Biology at SCQF Level 6 Level 2 entry is not possible with this qualification
Advanced Diploma Grade A with ASL-A Level Biology at A. Mathematics at GCSE C
Welsh Baccalaureate Pass with A-Levels in Biology and Chemistry at AB. Mathematics at GCSE grade C
European Baccalaureate 70% overall with 7 in Biology 75% overall with 7.5 in Biology
Other Qualifications

 EU and International qualifications

English Language Requirement

For non EU students

IELTS Overall 6.0
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

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.

How you will be taught

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.

How you will be assessed

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.

What you will study

Typical Degree Programme

Levels 1 and 2

Our programme in Forensic Anthropology shares common core modules in Levels 1 and 2 from 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.

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.

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.

Benedetta Mammi, BSc Forensic Anthropology

"The first two years of the course you work on the biological sciences to give you a strong base for further study. When you get to third and fourth year then you’re glad that you’ve done this work. From third year onwards you do dissection on cadavers, you do human anatomy, embryology. You’re hit with everything that you need to learn about Forensic Anthropology. It’s overwhelming but I really like it. I thought about becoming a medical examiner, but then I thought studying bones would be a little bit more interesting, so I decided to go for that, discovered there was a course, applied and got in!"

Sara Preston, BSc Forensic Anthropology

"I came to Dundee to study BSc Forensic Anthropology at the Centre for Anatomy & Human Identification. From the outset, I was in awe of the community city, university campus-culture, teaching excellence and the educational ethos that welcomed me. I really thrived at the start of my studies; engrossed in life sciences and discovering the intricacy of the anatomy and physiology of the human body. I was awarded the opportunity to undertake an IAESTE British Council internship within the University of Belgrade Serbia, working on human identification projects and participated in residential research excavations in England during the summer months. I will always feel hugely privileged by the extensive resources and practical learning on offer to me, throughout my studies."

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

Fees for students starting 2017/18

Fee categoryFees for students starting 2017/18
Scottish and EU students £1,820 per year of study (for Sept 2016 entry). Fees for September 2017 will be confirmed by the Scottish Government in early 2017.
Rest of UK students £9,250 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.
Overseas students (non-EU) £17,950 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 Loans Company.

Tuition fees for Overseas (non-EU) students are guaranteed for the length of your course. This means that the tuition fee you pay in your first year (shown above) is the same fee you will pay for each year of your course. We guarantee that this will not increase while you are studying with us. The only exceptions to this are our MBChB Medicine, BSc Medical Sciences and BDS Dentistry degrees which charge a different tuition for the clinical years.

  Degree UCAS Code KIS Data
Apply NowForensic Anthropology BSc (Hons)FL46