This course is one of the first of its kind in the UK to give a unique perspective of investigating and interpreting past societies through the appreciation of their skeletal remains in the context of prevailing socio-cultural, political and economic circumstances.
Our academic team of internationally known experts will offer a programme of study that puts theoretical knowledge into hands-on experiential learning in one of the best-equipped specialist laboratory settings in the country. Intensive training in human functional anatomy and skeletal examination will prepare you for the in-depth study of major aspects of the human life course, from demography to diet, disease, activity, mobility, genetics and mortuary behaviour. You also will be learning about the taphonomy and degradation of human remains as elements of critical appraisal of the source material.
A Bachelors Honours degree, 2:1 or above or equivalent in a relevant discipline and/or relevant comprehensive professional experience. If English is not your first language you´ll need IELTS 6.5 (Academic) or above.
Archaeology of human remains: Human remains, preserved as skeletons or otherwise, contain complex messages about the biological individual and social persona they represent, as well as the population or community they belong to. Bioarchaeology endeavours to decipher this information and to interpret it against the backdrop of ambient social, cultural, political and economic circumstances. This unit offers the means to do this by giving you a contextualised understanding of human remains through a combined appreciation of the osteological and archaeological evidence and natural science applications. It puts theoretical knowledge into hands-on experiential learning, allowing for the in-depth study of major aspects of the human life course at individual and population levels. Themes include demography, diet, health and disease, activity, mobility, genetics and mortuary behaviour, complemented by fundamental considerations of taphonomy and degradation.
Human functional anatomy: Lectures and laboratory practicals, the use of teaching casts and skeletal material, anatomical drawing hand-outs and anatomy reference sources will develop your osteological and general study skills. Accessing the laboratory outside teaching hours gives you the opportunity to self-direct your learning and to study materials in your own time. The aim of this unit is to enable you to gain detailed knowledge of human musculoskeletal anatomy that emphasises a functional approach to identifying and describing human remains, intact and fragmented, recovered from archaeological and forensic contexts. It provides you with proficiency in distinguishing morphological variation and produces a working knowledge of human functional anatomy. This includes considering developmental processes in the human skeleton and understanding biomechanical approaches to human movement.
Human evolution: The global record of human evolution from seven million - twelve thousand years ago. You´ll explore the many lines of evidence which contribute to our understanding of this period including archaeological material, fossil anatomy, geochronology, landscape change and ancient DNA. There will be much emphasis the Old World, although the global dispersal of humans will also be covered. You´ll develop a critical understanding of theories underpinning the study of human evolution, including evolutionary theory, adaptive ecological strategies and behavioural and biological change. The overarching aim is for you to achieve a deep understanding of the interdisciplinary basis of human evolution, and to develop the skills for navigating expanding and rapidly changing field independently. Unit delivery will be aimed at developing expertise in analytical and critical thinking, and confidence in communication and presentation.
Humans, animals & diet: Gain a detailed understanding of the history of animal exploitation for food and the inter-relationships between humans and animals in different periods and regions. This unit aims to provide you with knowledge of the major developments in animal exploitation in Britain. A number of central themes in zooarchaeological studies will be explored that can be applied to the study of human diets in European, Asian and New World contexts. You will also be developing critical awareness of the range of cultural attitudes towards animals, in different human societies.
Principles & methods in human osteology: An introduction to the basic principles of analysis and interpretation involved in studying skeletal remains of modern humans from archaeological and forensic contexts. This covers the principles and application of biological profiling from the skeleton. Characteristics covered include age-at death, biological sex, stature and metric and non-metric variation. You´ll also get a general introduction to skeletal anatomy, the sub-adult skeleton and the dentition and differences between human and non-human animal bone. The unit functions as a self-contained introduction to human osteology at Master´s level which can stand alone or form the foundation for more advanced study of human skeletal remains.
Research project: Develop your expertise in research methods, data collection, analysis, interpretation and synthesis and explore in detail core aspects of your subject area, with a view to generating new practical or theoretical insights. You will develop methodological, research, presentation skills and advanced communication skills by producing an extensive dissertation or report on your research.
Option units (choose one):
Management of archaeological material
Marine environment, heritage & spatial planning
Principles and methods in zooarchaelogy
Techniques of archaeological recovery & recording