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MSc Bioarchaeology

  • Delivery:
    Full time according to Funding Council definitions, Part-Time

Bioarchaeology is concerned with the investigation of human and animal skeletal remains to understand the lives of individuals and communities in the past, in relation to their social, cultural, economic, palaeoenvironmental and evolutionary contexts. The subject sits firmly at the interface of the science and humanities within archaeology and anthropology, and it has strong links with a range of academic disciplines, including archaeology, archaeological science, physical and social anthropology. We offer two specialist pathways within the overall context of bioarchaeology:

  • MSc Bioarchaeology (Anthropology)
  • MSc Bioarchaeology (Osteoarchaeology)

The anthropology pathway is set within the wider context and perspective of archaeological studies, with options to explore evolutionary and palaeoenvironmental themes, whilst the osteoarchaeology pathway gives you the opportunity to engage in more advanced study of non-human faunal remains. Practical experience of the methods and techniques used for recording and analysing osteological remains is imperative and therefore embedded throughout the course.

Detailed study in skeletal anatomy and analysis of all common forms of human remains encountered in archaeological settings prepares you for the in-depth study of major aspects of the human life, from demography to diet, disease, activity, mobility, genetics and mortuary behaviour. The aspects of taphonomy and degradation of human remains as elements of critical appraisal of the source material will also be covered. Animal bones and human remains are amongst the most common finds on archaeological excavations of all periods. They can provide abundant information about past human populations, their behaviour and beliefs, diet, economy and the natural world. The archaeological profession has an established and increasing need for staff with osteoarchaeological training, to assist in the interpretation of archaeological sites and understanding the human experience in the past, particularly their relationship with animals.

The osteoarchaeology pathway aims to enhance career opportunities for graduates from a variety of fields and for practising archaeologists seeking to expand their expertise. The sub-disciplines of human and animal osteoarchaeology have much in common at a core level. By covering both human and animal remains, this course affords a breadth of knowledge, leaving you well placed to specialise further through the research project. The pathway provides an excellent foundation if you wish to pursue a career as a specialist osteoarchaeological practitioner, researcher or as an academic within the archaeological profession. Similarly, the anthropology pathway provides opportunities in the direction of the deeper human past and is ideal if you intend to pursue doctoral-level study of human evolution.

Key information

Next start date:

September 2020, January 2021, September 2021


Bournemouth University, Talbot Campus


September: 12 months full-time. January: 16 months full-time. 2 years part-time

Required subjects:

Archaeology, History, Biological Sciences, Biological Anthropology or Anthropology

Entry requirements:

A Bachelors Honours degree with 2:1 in a required subject. For more information check out our full entry requirements.

International entry requirements:

If English is not your first language you'll need IELTS 6.5 (Academic) with a minimum of 5.5 in each component. For more information check out our full entry requirements.

Course details

General entry requirements


Forensic archaeology is an expanding international field. Upon completion of the course you will join other BU graduates who are acknowledged as some of the most experienced forensic archaeologists in the field.

This will open up a wide range of career prospects for you, and you could end up work anywhere in the world examining crime scenes, mass graves & disasters and educating other researchers in new forensic science approaches.

Your application

Costs and fees

You can find full information about the deposits required and how to pay your fees in our postgraduate fees and funding section, including details of the Postgraduate Loan (subject to fee status).

All fees are quoted in pounds sterling and are per annum. Fees quoted are for tuition only unless stated otherwise. Your tuition fees will be the same for each year of your course.

Find out more about living expenses for postgraduate students

Our staff

On this course you will be taught by staff with relevant expertise and knowledge appropriate to the content of the unit. This could include senior academic staff, qualified professional practitioners and research students, many of whom are actively engaged in research and/or professional practice which is integrated into the teaching of this course. Please note that teaching staff can change.

What our students say

Sara McGuire

My studies have enabled me to develop skills in the study of human skeletal anatomy, and apply them many fields including archaeology, forensic anthropology, evolutionary biology, and the study of primate societies.

Hear from our staff

Professor Holger Schutkowski

I love standing in front of students and suddenly seeing this sparkle as you get people hooked on an idea - it’s one of the things I love about teaching.

What our students say

Helen Slater

I get to spend 8 months in the Sumatran jungle, with orang-utans, gibbons, monkeys, tigers, leopards, rhinos, elephants and much more. Who else can say that?!