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

Postgraduate Course: Analytical Methods in Human Osteoarchaeology (PGHC11464)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe course is an introduction to the principles and techniques of the analysis and interpretation of human skeletal remains from archaeological contexts. Topics include taphonomic process, burial practices, sex assessment, age-at-death, stature, metric and non-metric variation, cremated human remains, aDNA and stable isotope analysis. Students will be also be introduced to human skeletal anatomy and differences between human and animal bone, as well as to more general analytical skills such as scientific photography and Health & Safety awareness.
Course description The course consists of weekly lectures and practically-based sessions covering different topics relating to the analysis and interpretation of human skeletal data.

The course aims to introduce, via lectures and practically-based sessions, the principles and techniques of analysis of archaeological skeletal remains.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements This course is available to students on the Human Osteoarchaeology (MSc) only.
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 22, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 18, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 154 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 60 %, Practical Exam 40 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Coursework:
Osteological Report (60%)

Practical Exam:
Class test (40%)
Feedback Students will receive written feedback on their coursework, and are encouraged to discuss that feedback further with the Course Organiser during their published office hours for this course or by appointment.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate a detailed and critical knowledge and understanding of analytical methods in human osteoarchaeology;
  2. Analyse and interpret human skeletal data in its context;
  3. Analyse and reflect critically upon relevant scholarship concerning human skeletal analysis;
  4. Demonstrate intellectual integrity and maturity and a considerable degree of autonomy.
Reading List
Bass, W.M. 2005. Human Osteology: A Laboratory and Field Manual. Fifth Edition. Special Publication No.2 of the Missouri Archaeological Society. Columbia, Missouri.

Brickley, M. & McKinley, J. 2004. Guidelines to the Standards for Recording Human Remains. BABAO & IFA. (Available electronically on:

Brothwell, D.R. 1981. Digging up Bones. Third edition. British Museum (Natural History). Oxford University Press. Oxford.

Buikstra, J.E. & Ubelaker. D.H. 1994. Standards for Data Collection from Human Skeletal Remains. Arkansas Archaeological Survey Research Series No. 44. Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Cox, M. & Mays, S. (eds.) 2000, Human Osteology in Archaeology and Forensic Science. Greenwich Medical Media Ltd. London.

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.

White, Tim D. & Folkens, P.A. 2005. The Human Bone Manual. Academic Press.

Scheuer, L & Black, S. 2000. Developmental Juvenile Osteology. Elsevier Academic Press. Oxford
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills The strong analytical and practical aspect of the course makes it relevant for developing a more generic, employability skill-set, which includes independent working, effective communication of complex information, critical thinking and problem solving.

- Competence in the methods and skills involved in academic research
- Developing the skills to work independently and to effectively communicate complex information
- Developing the ability to identify, define and analyse archaeological problems
- Gaining experience and enhanced ability to make a critical review of discussions, articles
- Being able to critique texts by scholars in light of the time and social circumstances of their writing
- Gaining the skills to extract key points from book chapters/articles
- Developing a knowledge of the subject area that takes in changes in its development over the past 150 years, and be aware of current themes
- Gaining a good understanding and appreciation of the importance of the ancient and environment within research
- Improving ability to conduct independent research using largely electronic sources, and investigate additional online sources
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Jonny Geber
Tel: (0131 6)50 3534
Course secretaryMiss Mel Baker
Tel: (0131 6)50 4030
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