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Advanced human osteology


Compulsory attendance


Admission requirements

BA3 course Osteoarchaeology 1 and Osteoarchaeology 2 (or an advanced undergraduate Osteology class deemed to be equivalent by the instructor).


This is a graduate seminar in advanced human osteology designed to further knowledge about what human remains can tell us about the past. This class is for students who already have comprehensive training in the identification and basic analysis of human skeletal remains. It will be necessary for students who are developing research topics for their Master’s theses in osteoarchaeology, and of value to students who want to acquire the knowledge necessary to undertake doctoral research that involves human osteology.

The course emphasises how the application of scientific methods and the integration of biological and archaeological evidence to research hypotheses can aid in enhancing our reconstructions of human history. Methods covered include forensic anthropology, growth‐related studies, biomechanics, ancient DNA, dental anthropology, stable isotope and trace element analysis, and metric and non‐metric variation.

The course is open to RMSc-Bioarchaeology students. Although participating in the same lectures, their assignments will have a different focus involving enhanced depth and critical review with additional minimum requirements for the number of referenced sources. Written (i.e. essays) and oral (i.e. presentations) assignments will involve researching a topic to achieve comprehension of its significance to the field as a whole, utilising critical thinking skills and formulating directions for innovative new research.


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Course objectives

  • To develop an understanding of current methodological and theoretical topics in biological anthropology;

  • To increase knowledge about science-based approaches within the field of osteoarchaeology;

  • To practice basic human osteology identification and reporting skills;

  • To develop professional presentation and instruction skills;

  • To develop critical thinking skills.

In addition to the above, RMSc-students develop:

  • Ability to critically review the significance of current research within the field as a whole;

  • Ability to report such reviews in written and oral formats;

  • Ability to formulate new and innovative directions of research.

Ects distribution

The course load will be distributed as follows:

  • Lectures (21 hours, 1,5 ects);

  • Laboratory work (10 hours, 0,5 ects);

  • 280 pages of literature (2 ects);

  • Essay (1,500-1,800 words, 1 ects).


Course schedule details can be found in the MA time schedule.

Mode of instruction

  • Lecture;

  • Open laboratory time.

Assessment method

  • Laboratory assignment;

  • PowerPoint presentation of textbook chapter;

  • Participation;

  • Research paper.

Assessment deadline

All assessment deadlines (exams, retakes, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in the examination schedule.

Reading list

  • M.A. Katzenberg & S. Saunders, Biological Anthropology of the Human Skeleton, 2nd edition. John Wiley and Sons Ltd. (2008);

  • Instructor and student assigned journal articles.


Register for this course via uSis.
Instructions for registration can be found in the uSis manual.

Contact information

For more information about this course, please contact mw. dr. S. Inskip.