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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : Postgraduate (History, Classics and Archaeology)

Postgraduate Course: Analytical Methods in Human Osteology (PGHC11230)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course teaches an awareness of the wide range of analytical methods that are applied routinely in the study of human remains, including ageing and sexing of individuals from bones, estimation of stature, isotopic analysis of ancient diets and radiocarbon dating of bone. The taphonomy of human remains will also be studied. This is a discipline aimed at reconstructing the post mortem history of a skeleton; it is the critical evaluation of bone assemblages that have been continuously affected by natural agents and human activity alike. Understanding the processes that have altered the preservation of human remains is essential to meaningful archaeological interpretation of osteological data. A special form of post mortem bone modification is burning. Cremation is of great cultural importance and identifying calcined bone takes special skills, which are also taught on this course.
Course description The Analytical Methods in Osteology course consists of weekly lectures covering various aspects of skeletal analysis that form the basis of the discipline. Topics include an introductory class on ethical issues relating to human skeletal remains, methods on sexing, assessing age at death in both juveniles and adults, metrical analysis, dealing with cremated remains and full skeletal analysis are covered. These sessions are co-ordinated with the Practical Osteology course where students have the opportunity to practice the methods covered in lectures. In addition, there are 'awareness' lectures by specialists involved in scientific analysis of remains such as stable isotope analysis of diet, and strontium and aDNA analysis. Coursework takes the form of a class quiz and a 2,000-word essay.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Students MUST NOT also be taking Analytical Methods in Osteoarchaeology (PGHC11131)
Other requirements All students taking this course must attend the Health & Safety Awareness training session at the start of the semester. If this course is not on your Degree Programme Table you must seek the permission of the course organiser before being enrolled in this course.
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2016/17, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 26, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 168 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 50 %, Practical Exam 50 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Assessment consists of essay and a 40-question short answer class test.

The essay should be 2,000 words and counts for 50% of the assessment, with the class test accounting for the other 50%.
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate in an essay and class test a detailed and critical command of the body of knowledge concerning analytical methods in human osteology
  2. Demonstrate in an essay an ability to analyse and reflect critically upon relevant scholarship concerning analytical methods in human osteology, and conceptual discussions about the accuracy of osteological methodology
  3. Demonstrate the ability to develop and sustain original scholarly arguments in oral and written form in seminar discussions by independently formulating appropriate questions and utilising relevant evidence considered in the course
  4. Demonstrate in the essay originality and independence of mind and initiative; intellectual integrity and maturity; an ability to evaluate the work of others, including peers; and a considerable degree of autonomy
Reading List
Brickley, M. & McKinley, J. 2004. Guidelines to the Standards for Recording Human Remains. BABAO & IFA. (Available electronically on: )

Buikstra, J.E. & Ubelaker. D.H. 1994. Standards for Data Collection from Human Skeletal Remains: Proceedings of a Seminar at the Museum of Natural History, Organized by Jonathon Haas. Arkansas Archaeological Survey Research Series No. 44. Fayetteville, Arkansas

Mays, S. 2010. The Archaeology of Human Bones. Second Edition. Routledge. London

Roberts, C.A. 2009. Human Remains in Archaeology: A Handbook (CBA Practical Handbook. Council for British Archaeology

Schaefer, M., Black, S. & Scheuer, L. 2009. Juvenile Osteology: A Laboratory and Field Manual. Elsevier Academic Press

Van Beek, G.C. 1983. Dental Morphology: an illustrated Guide. Wright Elsevier

White, Tim D. & Folkens, P.A. 2005. The Human Bone Manual. Academic Press
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsAnaMethHumOsteo Analytical Methods Human Osteology
Course organiserDr Kathleen Mcsweeney
Tel: (0131 6)50 2373
Course secretaryMr Gordon Littlejohn
Tel: (0131 6)50 3782
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